A few short weeks ago, Facebook introduced new controls and capabilities for branded content marketers, giving brands the opportunity to promote influencer posts as ads. The update allows brands to drive paid media amplification behind influencer posts, while also giving brand marketers access to campaign results, including metrics around audience reach, engagement, total spend and CPM to help them determine the effectiveness of their influencers.
After Facebook announced the new updates for branded content, marketers went into a frenzy to say the least, as there was a preconceived notion that Facebook will suppress influencer posts altogether if brands don’t promote or “boost” them. After thinking about the update a few weeks in, I beg to differ — the update is not harmful to influencers. In fact, this assumption itself has merit, but it is not unique to Facebook. Every social platform struggles with balancing the mix of user-generated content with revenue-generating paid ads. In the war for “usage” platforms that overstep the algorithmic line of user vs. ad content will suffer greatly. This is even one of Snapchat’s core issues, but they’ve been very careful as they understand that too many ads can quickly and drastically impact usage.
Marketers think the update will eventually eradicate influencers’ audiences; however, an influencer’s audience is not the same as a brand’s audience, and Facebook knows this. If it were the same, then Facebook’s feed algorithm changes over the last 3 years (to all Pages) would have already negatively impacted influencer content performance as it did to brands using the platform. Most importantly, if they were the same, brands wouldn’t need influencers.
Audiences want to see influencer content, not more ads, which is why Facebook is choosing to better facilitate relationships between brands and influencers. Facebook wants a fair share of the incredible success and value created by influencer marketing, and rightly so.
We need to remind ourselves that we can’t use celebrity influencers, like the Kardashian family or Cristiano Ronaldo, as the norm to represent influencer marketing. It’s misleading because this is actually an example of celebrity endorsements, which is a small part of the influencer marketing industry and has been proven to be less impactful in terms of engagement and brand sentiment. Celebrities are both a small percentage of influencer marketing in general, and not a tactic that generates the highest return on investment for the majority of brands. With this update, rather than basing results on reach or celebrity status, brands will have to focus more on quality of content (both in terms of production quality and it’s realness) and use “boosts” to double-down on the content that is performing best.
The new feature is validation that influencer marketing works, that Facebook and other social platforms see the value and want to capture a share of it. It’ll help brands work more closely with influencers — whether they’re “boosting” the content or not — and also get a better understanding of the ROI and granular results of influencer marketing, which is very useful to brands that believe incomplete transparency.
Gone are the days when free samples alone were sufficient to generate sales. Now, content matters most, and influencers are driving results through authentic voices that align with brand messaging and are targeted to interested audiences. Because of this, influencer marketing platforms need to promote authentic voices, content, and audiences.
Facebook is not synonymous with influencer marketing, and while the industry has always — and will always — continue to constantly change, this new feature from Facebook is not the change that some were hoping for.
Influencer marketing is Real, at Scale.