For the last three years, Kindred has been on the bleeding edge of influencer marketing, pioneering creative strategies for the world’s leading brands and most exclusive events in entertainment. What used to be a forward-thinking marketing risk is quickly becoming the norm as research suggests the benefits of influencer marketing over traditional marketing and advertising. What we’ve learned from the trenches and from the earliest stages of the influencer marketing movement is that everyday influencers, with moderate to massive audiences, can have an incredible impact when they work together on behalf of a brand. Instead of tapping celebrities and athletes for one-time endorsements, these voices orchestrate to amplify a brand’s message, creating loyalty through personal connections with audiences and immediately amplifying word-of-mouth benefits for viral and lasting results. What’s more, is that by creatively activating these networks, strategic influencer marketing campaigns appear to be organic. Much like product placement in television and film, brands are woven into photos and conversations in a natural way that promotes social validation, which, research shows, is far more effective than self promotion, especially for the elusive millennial demographic. However, we’ve also learned that the first few years of influencer marketing evolved through trial and error, and the industry has yet to be standardized or professionalized in any meaningful way. Many influencer marketing firms misunderstand its benefits and use influencers as a vehicle for self-propagation, missing the mark of audience members by appearing flagrantly promotional, devaluing both the brand and the integrity of the influencer. Without a creative strategy, influencer marketing can fall flat, or even backfire. Furthermore, influencers are rarely compensated appropriately for their hard-won audiences, which leads to uninspired content. With 84% of marketing professionals planning to execute influencer marketing campaigns in the next year, according to the market research firm Schlesinger Associates, a number of influencer marketing firms have popped up to meet demand. It’ll be essential for brands to do their homework before engaging an agency in order to reap the rewards that influencer marketing has to offer.