Influencer marketing is already used by 57% of companies, and is set to grow to a $10 billion market by 2020. It's also been attracting headlines for opaque practices and even fraudulent activity, causing concern for major advertisers. Admap's February issue goes inside influencer marketing.

Is it true that where there’s smoke, there’s Fyre? Following the high-profile shambles that was Fyre festival, and the shady deals that organisers appeared to strike with internet stars, the business of influence is front and centre in the public imagination.

In the February issue of Admap we examine influencer marketing from all angles so brands can be informed about best practices, learn what’s happening around the world and how to avoid influencer pitfalls for your brand. If you’re short of time, check out our summary deck, which collates insight from all the articles.

Influencer measurement, guidelines and new research

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for reaching an engaged audience, but to use influencers effectively it’s important to take an analytical approach to choosing who to work with and in measuring the success of campaigns. In her article “Celebrities, macro influencers, rising star creators and micro influencers: what brands need to know”, Tania Yuki, founder and CEO of Shareablee, shares expert advice on how to select an influencer, the benefits and risks of different types of influencers, and explains what to measure in your influencer campaign.

In an industry-first study, Farhad Divecha, managing director of Accuracast, shares the results of research into influencer engagement rates for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn in “Exerting your influence: Benchmarking influencer marketing”. Looking at more than 60 million datapoints across 1200 influencer posts in a range of categories, Divecha identifies useful benchmarks for engagement for in-house-, mega-, and micro-influencers across the four platforms.

Instagram is regarded as the most important platform for influencer marketing, and with the tremendous earning potential for influencers has come a rise in fraudulent practices on the social channel. Rochelle Bailis, VP of marketing at Mediakix, sets out “Eight tips for spotting fake influencers on Instagram” – available for free download. These timely tips will help marketers to identify influencer fraud and ensure they are paying for authentic engagement.

Influencer marketing is a bigger opportunity than paid celebrities and YouTube stars. Ed Keller and Brad Fay, of Engagement Labs, with Matt Dodd, Kantar Analytics, focus on the “influencer next door”, the one in ten consumers who frequently make product and service recommendations to their network. In their article “The power of everyday influencers in driving business outcomes”, they share research about the power of unpaid, everyday influencers, tracked both online and offline, in improving short-term sales and long-term brand equity.

Focus on influencer marketing in Asia

The issue also features an in-depth look at influencer marketing across Asia, with three articles on the region. China’s influencer marketing industry is three to five years ahead of the rest of the world. In his article “Look East to know the future of influencer marketing”, Elijah Whaley, CMO of PARKLU, explores current trends in China’s influencer marketing ecosystem and highlights how these developments may disrupt Facebook and Google in the future.

At their worst, influencers are mercenaries hawking weight-loss products, photoshopping fake lifestyles and promising fake benefits. At their best, they are the opposite. As genuine voices who represent their own personalities or specific communities, they offer authenticity and genuine connection. In her article “Influencer marketing in Asia: time for brands and influencers to reclaim its true promise”, Ida Siow, Head of Planning at JWT Singapore and Southeast Asia, celebrates powerful influencers in China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Ana Thorsdottir, head of influencer marketing strategy at Mediacom, looks at the state of influencer marketing in India. Her article, “India’s influencer evolution” reveals the growing importance of influencer marketing where content creators, as well as celebrities, are starting to have more impact and outlines five tips to ensure successful influencer partnerships in the country.

Leveraging the power of micro-influencers

Micro-influencers, those with smaller number of followers, are set to be a key area for marketers in 2019 as they can achieve higher engagement at a lower cost. In “The rise of micro-influencers and why they are important”, Chelsea Carter and Will Rix from Whalar share insights from their work with micro-influencers and in “How to work effectively with micro-influencers” Saffron Steele outlines best practices, including how to identify the right micro-influencer for a particular brand.

Joel Davis, founder of agency:2 and Mighty Social takes the science behind selecting influencers to the next level, with a focus on using artificial intelligence to analyse influencer content. In his article, “Harnessing the influencer ecosystem”, he shares a technical approach to optimising influencer marketing.

Finally, in “Integrating influence”, Neil Waller from Whalar advocates a considered approached to integrating influencer marketing into a media plan.

We do hope this collection sheds light on this fast-growing area of marketing, and provides some useful tips for working with influencers.