3 Rules for Brands Wanting to Capitalize on the Evolving Creator Economy and Make The Most of Their Influencer Marketing Spend


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Whether your brand is new to the creator economy or has been at it for some time, here are three rules to help maximize your influencer marketing investments.

Influencer marketing plays a key role in the creator economy, accounting for $5.89 billion in marketing spend in the U.S. According to EMARKETER, more than 80% of marketers are allocating a portion of their budget to influencer relationships, leading to influencer marketing ad spend growing at a faster rate than social ads.

“U.S. influencer marketing spend growth will remain in the double digits through 2025 (the end of our forecast), while social ad spend growth lingers between 4% and 10%, according to our forecast,” reports EMARKETER.

Brands are entering the creator economy and investing more of their budget in influencer marketing strategies because they work. Deloitte’s 2023 “Creator Economy in 3D” report revealed that 77% of the 2,000 consumers surveyed follow creators because of a shared interest or desire to learn something new. Three out of five consumers say they’re more likely to recommend a brand to others, purchase a product from that brand, or explore other products by a brand when the brand is endorsed by a creator they follow.

Just like any other social media marketing strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to building effective influencer marketing campaigns. But there are three tried and true rules when it comes to implementing influencer content that drives engagement and builds deeper relationships with your customers.

Influencer Marketing: 3 Primary Rules for Successful Brand-Influencer Relationships

#1: Brand alignment is critical

According to Emplifi’s research, 80% of influencers use products from the brands they promote and 58% work with brands to design content strategies. These data points reflect the critical nature of choosing creators who not only are already aligned with your brand’s values and regularly use your products or services, but are also involved in the creative process and know which type of content moves the needle on your biggest social media marketing objectives.

Giving your influencers creative leeway takes a certain level of trust—and there are always exceptions to the rule. Brands can establish creative guidelines for content, craft key messaging points to be used in posts, and call-to-actions for influencer campaigns, but handing over the creative reins requires alignment between the brand and the influencers they use.

It’s important to remember that building successful relationships with the influencers takes time. Start slow and test the waters to ensure the influencer knows your brand and creates content that aligns with your creative goals and objectives.

#2: Authentic content is a must

Emplifi surveyed over 2,000 consumers in the U.S. and UK and found that more than half regularly research images or videos of a product being used by real people (versus an advertisement) before making an online purchase. More than 70% agreed that “authentic” positive customer ratings and reviews made a real difference in purchasing decisions.

The more authentic an influencer is when touting your products or promoting your services, the more likely they are to move the needle on your biggest marketing goals. An influencer who is able to speak honestly about how much they love your products is going to have a lasting impact on your most important audiences. With the right influencer relationships, the consumer trust is already there—their followers are interested in what they say and take their recommendations to heart.

The reality is that today’s consumers are rarely swayed by costly celebrity testimonials. They want authentic content with real-life reviews from people they trust. Leveraging niche influencers who are lockstep with your key audiences can help drive revenue while also introducing your brand to consumers who may be on the hunt for whatever products an influencer is promoting. A potential buyer that finds your brand through someone they trust is much more likely to engage with the influencer than they are to respond to a run of the mill ad that shows up in their Instagram feed.

#3: Keep it legal

Last year, the FTC proposed new rules for consumer reviews and endorsements and announced newly revised guidelines for marketers leveraging social media influencers. The proposed ruling prohibits businesses from deceptive practices, such as selling or obtaining fake consumer reviews, misleading consumers by repurposing reviews for one product to promote another product (“review hijacking”), buying positive reviews—or paying for negative reviews to be posted on competitor sites, selling false indicators of social media influence, like fake followers or views, and more.

For the most part, the FTC’s proposed guidelines involve rules that reputable brands already follow. It all goes back to implementing authentic content that builds trust with your audience. Fake reviews and deceptive influencer marketing practices may get a brand a quick-win, but it’s not how you build long-term, profitable relationships with consumers. In fact, it’s the fastest way to losing credibility and critically damaging your brand’s reputation.

Ultimately, marketers who can effectively navigate the creator economy and maintain successful influencer relationships will garner more value from their social media marketing strategies and generate stronger outcomes for their brand. The benefits are far reaching—more brand exposure, deeper and longer lasting relationships with key demographics, and improved revenue gains.

In fact, according to Deloitte, the creator economy is fundamentally changing how consumers engage with brands, media, and purchasing channels: “What used to be an incremental opportunity for messaging engagement now represents a $250 billion revenue opportunity that is set to nearly double over the next five years.” That’s a lot of money on the table for marketers who understand just how valuable the brand-influencer relationship can be.

Andrew Higgins, Mr.
Andrew Higgins is the Vice President of Growth Marketing for Emplifi, a leading customer engagement platform. With more than a decade of experience leading growth marketing strategies, Andrew joined Emplifi in 2023 when the company acquired influencer marketing platform Pixlee TurnTo where he held various roles including Director of Marketing, General Manager of EMEA, and Vice President of Marketing. Andrew is a veteran brand marketer and influencer marketing expert and has worked for leading brands, including ESPN and Paramount Pictures.


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