The power of influencer marketing is no longer a question, but the endurance and sustainability of influencers based on their authenticity is in question, particularly as the market is now being flooded by the “next generation” of digital celebrities.
Linqia, a market research firm reported that nearly 40% of marketing executives are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets. At the same time, these marketers are not sure what their real returns are on influencer campaigns and are struggling with the saturation challenge.
There are tools being advanced to measure the effectiveness of campaigns, with data shared with both the influencer and the brand paying them for their support, detailing engagement rates – clicks, impressions, reach and conversions – and on social media likes, shares and comments.
Influencer marketing is not going away anytime soon – or ever – but it is undergoing a transformation typical of disruptive industries in their early years, including regulation as a challenge, when brands are called out by the US Federal Trade Commission for ignoring Endorsement Guides.
These guides are instructive when it comes to the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading.
With realistic claims.
The guides also provide direction regarding transparency. The connection between an endorser and the marketer should be disclosed, including financial compensation provided to the to recommend the product or service.
Influencer marketing can happen on any social media platform, but the most popular for influencers Is Instagram, and one fast-growing company based in Silicon Valley has developed what industry experts consider to be one of the smartest influencer marketing technology platforms in the world, founded by Heidi Yu, who now is not only a successful serial entrepreneur in her twenties, but one of the top women in blockchain.
Heidi Yu, CEO & Founder of Boostinsider and BOOSTO, founded Boostinsider, an influencer marketing agency at the end of 2016, after receiving her degree from Stanford, followed by an MBA from Seattle University and completing her work for e-commerce platform Pocomaru.
In a very short period of time, the BOOSTO platform she pioneered was providing in-depth data analytics for 350,000 active social media influencers connected with over 2 billion followers.
Three years after starting Boostinsider, Yu launched SocialBook, a comprehensive influencer data analytics platform leveraging blockchain technology.
The platform allows brands and influencers to view the demographics and psychographics data of the audience of influencers including detailed social media listening and competitor tracking.
All this is supported now on BOOSTO, a decentralized blockchain platform that connects social media users with the blockchain community, empowering influencers to launch their own e-commerce stores.
In these stores, influencers can directly sell products and engage with their audience through distributed applications, driving a decentralized influencer/fans-driven economic system, in theory.
Influencers benefit with new revenue streams in addition to data and analytics the platform offers, while marketers have a more sophisticated means for influencers to directly sell their products, disrupting the current affiliate marketing models based on influence only, and not actual sell-through.
“Given the speed with which disrupting can up-end traditional businesses, influencer marketing’s popularity rose fast, and so fast, in fact, that traditional influencer marketing may have already commoditized, with marketers now having more options, and therefore able to negotiate with influencers,” Wu said, “This is not a positive development for the influencer economy.”
According to a Bloglovin’ study, 84% of micro-influencers charge $250 or less for each sponsored post on Instagram. And 97% of them charge no more than $500 for each Instagram post. Blog cost $500 – $1,000 for each post, but even those rates are coming under pressure.
The genius of BOOSTO is that its platform, even as it evolves to support the development of independent Distributed App Stores (dAPPS), is neutral, providing tools to all participants in a next-generation influencer marketing “exchange” and is succeeding based on the same principle as other exchanges – valuable market data that cannot be sourced elsewhere.
“Authenticity is becoming increasingly important to the success of campaigns,” Wu explained, “and while it is less tangible than likes, shares, comments and clicks, it is trackable through popularity and reputation management, including responding to negative comments which can often become more viral than positive comments.”
“Blockchain technology is an interesting choice when it comes to #truth and authenticity, given the very nature of blockchain as a distributed ledger that allows influencers, and other content creators, to develop deeper relationships with followers,” Yu explained. “With Boosto.io, influencers can stand up decentralized app stores, created to help them build their own brands and e-commerce capabilities and control the integrity of the data, while enabling purchasing using crypto currency.”
Influencers will soon be able to partner with developers in this environment to create dedicated apps that are uniquely tailored to their needs, allowing them the ability to offer performance-based services to followers, like classes or private coaching sessions, or merchandise.
“The use of smart contracts on the blockchain makes it possible to enter into partnerships with a greater level of safety and trust, giving influencers new options in monetizing their talents, like selling personalized services and products from brands that they have partnered with,” Yu said, laying out her vision for the blockchain-powered platform, built for developers supporting the next generation of marketing influencers.
And while we’re still in a wait and see mode on dAPPS generally, Yu believes disruption happens only when companies and entrepreneurs are bold.
As one of the few women CEOs in blockchain, Yu comes across as enthusiastic and even fearless, but this confidence comes from developing a successful software platform including AI and machine learning features, capturing and processing over 200 million social posts, and working with over 300 brands, and 350 thousand influencers.
“Boosto.io has been in testing since the fourth quarter of last year and is being warmly received by those who recognize traditional app stores are crowded and expensive,” Yu said. Traditional app stores take a third or more of margins away from products and services made available through Apple and Google’s marketplaces.
Boostinsider, established in 2014, headquartered in Silicon Valley and has offices in Beijing, Chengdu, and Shenzhen.
Yu speaks to audiences around the world about the adoption and the benefits of the blockchain, including appearances over the past year at API World, AIMA’s Future of AI in Advertising, Global Blockchain Connect, WITI’s 24th Annual Women in Technology Summit, Blockchain Economic Forum, Global Blockchain Forum, Startup Grind, ‘Femigrants of Silicon Valley’ Forum of Female Immigrant Leaders, and the Future of Tech Summit.