This is part 3 of a 5-part series about my time at the SXSW Interactive Conference 2017. I’ve consolidated information around five trends and some of the most interesting things I learned about each of them. (Originally sent as a series of emails to a smaller group of associates, RPA thought this was so great that we decided to archive them on our website.)

Today’s trend from SXSW is influencer marketing.

There was lots of buzz around the various ways brands are working with influencers across different channels. And a lot of speakers talked about how people are increasingly using their time online for discovery. No longer are we typing what we need, but discovering things visually – and then searching for it. Instagram shared that 75% of users reported taking an action based on something they saw in their feed. Influencers are a powerful way for brands to insert themselves into that discovery process in a more authentic way. But that doesn’t mean that social posts themselves can’t be action-oriented. New and changing social products mean the ways brands can partner with influencers is constantly changing. And fans are getting increasingly savvy at sniffing out what feels authentic and what feels like…advertising.

Here are some highlights and best practices:

  • 82% of people said they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro influencer over one from a celebrity. Micro influencers are more relatable and people can project themselves on them more easily
  • Influencers provide 22x more recommendations weekly on what to buy versus average consumers. So there is a healthy appetite for influencer recommendations
  • We know Millennials are skeptical of messages coming from brands. Influencers can connect with your audience in that setting in a more native, authentic way
  • A single ad doesn't drive sales and influencers should be thought of the same way. They are just a part of the mix
  • ShopStyle will do specific promo codes for influencers to help with measurability and to give the influencer a way to provide a “perk” to their audience
  • With multiple social channels and digital video placements, there’s an endless need for content. Influencers can help with filling your content calendar goals
  • Ask influencers what they are trying to achieve and what their goals are. They know their audience and they need to be true to themselves in order for their content to resonate. Great branded content is enabling an influencer to do something they’ve always wanted to do
  • Louis Vuitton and ShopStyle are thinking about influencers as virtual store windows and are adopting always-on approaches to their influencer strategies
  • The GAP CMO said with influencers you have to let go, see what works, and move on. As a result, their creative review process has completely changed. They are using influencers on IG to test out various concepts/messages and then, if successful, amplify that content through other channels or produce that content for other channels (like TV)

The last installment of “What I learned at SXSW” comes tomorrow. Stay tuned!