While Vine Camera’s Future Is TBD, the Lessons for Influencer Marketing Are Clear

It’s too early to say whether the 'Vine famous' content creators will embrace Vine Camera

The announcement of Vine’s closure toward the back end of last year marked a sad, nostalgic day for digital content creators. So it came as quite the surprise when, last month, Twitter relaunched the social platform as Vine Camera, an application that allows users to share their six-second videos directly to Twitter.

It’s too early to say whether the “Vine famous” content creators will embrace Vine Camera, but it does give influencers a new, quick and easy tool for creating micro-video content, which has, of course, turned a few heads within the brand marketing world.

Should brands embrace (or re-embrace, rather) micro-video content as part of their influencer marketing strategy? Well, the question is more complex than it may seem. After all, as a social platform, Vine had minimal branded content—it was reliant upon influencers creating engaging videos to sustain user interest.

Yet all of the Vine stars started making their money on YouTube rather than Vine through the Google-owned video site’s monetization program, causing them to spend more time on their YouTube content. Once the most prominent influencers on Vine started to desert it in favor of more lucrative social channels that also offered a wider range of creative content possibilities (i.e., not limited to a six-second format), the writing was on the wall.

Vine’s misfortunes did, however, highlight one major learning for the fledgling influencer marketing industry: Fans are loyal to influencers, not platforms. Ultimately, the social marketplace is constantly changing, and platforms need to keep up as influencers mature and evolve as content creators. Vine wasn’t keeping pace with the needs of the influencer marketplace. It failed to listen to its creators and execute on a monetisation strategy, which is why the platform wasn’t sustainable.

Fast forward to 2017 and influencer marketing has exploded. Just last year, it was reported that 86 percent of marketers were allocating budget towards influencers, and we think influencer marketing is going to continue to grow and expand.

Yet many companies are still making the mistake of viewing influencer marketing as solely a distribution plan, rather than taking the time to identify the right influencers for their brand—irrespective of the platform they exist on.

This is not to say that distribution and quantitative metrics are not important. Creating content with a variety of influencers with a proven history of performance does help guarantee hitting predetermined key performance indicators. It should not, however, be the only factor when choosing the right influencers with whom to work.

Brands need to look beyond platform, follower count, demographics, likes and other quantitative metrics and ask more fundamental questions, such as: Is a specific influencer aligned with a brand’s messaging and goals? Is his or her content appropriate for the brand? Does the messaging fit in seamlessly with the influencer’s content?

Furthermore, influencer marketing is most effective when it is composed of a creative partnership and content production—not just a checklist of agreed deliverables such as the number of tweets or namechecks a brand gets for its money. Influencers have created their followings through their own unique voice and style; their authenticity is a vital component of their success, and they should be given license to interpret the brand in their own way.

In the case of something like Vine Camera, smart brands won’t dictate that an influencer has to post X number of Vines to Twitter. Instead, they’ll discuss the creative possibilities with the influencer and identify whether Vines could represent a potential content opportunity based on what is right and appropriate for both parties.

Don’t forget that the world’s most popular influencers are in high demand and have become their own business entities. They can afford to be selective about who they work with, and the brands that afford them license to do what they love—creating engaging content for their audiences—are the ones they’ll prioritize.

However, this is not to say that brands wishing to step up their influencer marketing efforts must cede all control over the outcomes of each influencer partnership. Many brands are now becoming more sophisticated in their payment strategies by comparing results directly with traditional media and paying influencers based on the results they deliver.

This makes sense from an influencer’s perspective, too—it gives them focus and direction when considering the content and approach to take, ultimately allowing them to further hone their craft. If an influencer can demonstrate tangible brand success, they give themselves a strong platform from which to secure future brand partnerships.

Time will tell as to whether Vine Camera breathes new life into the Vine community, or indeed, whether it plays a meaningful role in Twitter’s ongoing effort to re-energize the platform and make it a more compelling proposition for both brands and influencers.

From a big-picture perspective, though, it’s evident that influencer marketing is only going to become more important—particularly now that the influencer world has become innate to younger audiences. Some social platforms may thrive, while others may subside. The power of influencers will only grow.

Ricky Ray Butler is executive vice president of global client services at product-placement network Branded Entertainment Network.