2017 is the year influencer marketing entered the mainstream. And its popularity shows no sign of slowing.
There are a myriad of emerging trends shifting this exciting young sector. In this post we pick out 12 we think will shape the industry in 2018.
#1 Expect to pay more
Higher demand for social influencers’ creativity will translate into higher tariffs for their services, especially in popular verticals such as fashion and style.
Additionally, organic reach will start to be squeezed (see below). Brands will have to pay to ‘amp’ their influencers' reach with paid promotion.
#2 Increased focus on ROI
With increased influencer marketing spend comes a greater need to demonstrate value return on investment (ROI). Accurate data and robust, independent campaign performance evaluation, along with industry benchmarking, will become a fundamental part of the influencer marketing campaign planning process.
#3 More structured approach
Communicators will run more structured influencer marketing programmes. This will be as a result of:
- Increased investment
- Heightened need to demonstrate ROI
- Need to put paid post promotion behind sponsored work
- Move from ‘tent-pole’, event-driven campaigns to long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between brand and creator
There is a groundswell within influencer marketing to tighten contracts and make creative briefs more prescriptive. It is right that both influencer and brand agree what to expect from one another. Carefully thought out guidelines can help a campaign succeed without restricting influencer creativity.
Communicators will increasingly spend more time undertaking pre- and post-campaign measurement. They will check:
- Engagement ratio between branded and non-branded content
- Best-performing themes for branded content
- How relevant the influencer’s following is to their brand
#4 Video as a dominant force
Video content will continue to rise in popularity. More than one in two internet users (56%) watch video on social platforms each month according to GlobalWebIndex data. These engagement levels (up from 38% in 2015) are set to rise further as platforms concentrate more on their video offering.
#5 Decline of organic reach
In June Instagram rolled out its paid partnership tag. At first sight this looks like a step towards improving transparency around brand sponsored content:
- Users can easily identify which posts are organic and which are paid for
- Regulators (Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Competition and Mergers Authority (CMA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC)) are reassured the platform is taking disclosure seriously
- And brands get access to some under-the-bonnet performance metrics
On the other hand, this may be part of a longer-term goal to kill off organic reach, just as Instagram's parent, Facebook, has done with its brand pages.
#6 More integrated communications plans
Influencer marketing began as a bolt-on to core media plans. It is now increasingly a key element within an integrated communications strategy, a trend set to continue throughout 2018.
Intelligently targeted paid promotion will go hand-in-hand with carefully selected influencers, given the leeway to produce content which resonates with their audience and which sits on both earned and owned assets.
Expect to see influencers being integrated throughout the customer journey, too. Brands will blend the voices of mega-influencers with the power-middle and micro influencers to reach their audience.
#7 Increased focus on compliance
Regulators will get even tougher with those flouting disclosure regulations. Lack of effective disclosure erodes trust with an audience.
Recent figures from the ASA, the UK advertising watchdog, reveal there were 1,824 complaints about content on social networking sites in 2016, up 193% from 622 in 2012.
Expect to see stricter rules and higher penalties for influencers, brands and marketers who ignore them.
However, satisfying influencer marketing disclosure regulation is good for brands, good for influencers and good for their audiences.
#8 Fewer, more meaningful long-term relationships
Brands and influencers will look to forge fewer, but more meaningful relationships with each other. One-off campaigns will be replaced with longer, often episodic, co-created content which mines deep insight and understanding about both - the interests of the target audience and knowledge of the brand’s product or service.
Finding the right fit between brand and influencer will go far beyond follower count and will include shared values, tone of voice, future aspirations and genuine advocacy by the influencer for the brand.
#9 Artificial Intelligence
AI (artificial intelligence) is revolutionising every industry, from finance to farming. Influencer companies will increasingly embed AI technology into their platforms, providing marketers with identification, activation and real-time measurement solutions. Expect many to say they’re using AI, but few to offer something genuinely groundbreaking.
#10 Fake followers, gamed engagement and buying credibility
Expect to see a rise in fake influencers as more money flows into the industry.
Buying followers instead of organically building a loyal community is just one fraud issue influencers are using to grow their visibility. It’s becoming one of the biggest challenges marketers and platforms have to face when working with influencers.
Look out, too, for fake engagement via Insta pods and attempts to buy credibility by paying thousands of dollars for Instagram verification.
#11 More influencers will build their own brands and sell their own products
Influencers will build their brands beyond content, converting their audiences into consumers. Rather than earning money solely from the promotion of established brands, more influencers will start to create their own products and services.
Kylie Jenner, who is probably best known for starring in reality-TV show ‘keeping up with the Kardashians’, conceptualised, founded and leads Kylie Cosmetics. The company is forecast to hit 1$B revenue company by 2022. This is an extreme example of the phenomenon.
#12 Instagram will pass 1 billion active users
Instagram is the powerhouse platform driving influencer marketing revenue. User numbers have accelerated throughout 2017. The image-lead platform, owned by Facebook, currently has 800 million users engaging with the service each month. The site added 100 million users between April and September, alone. 500 million users login each day.
CampaignDeus is the leading independent provider of influencer marketing campaign data for Instagram and YouTube. Our platform identifies and classifies brand sponsored influencer campaign performance metrics, tracking hundreds of thousands of posts.
We use this data to provide Brands & Agencies with industry insights across verticals, benchmark campaigns against vertical & competitor averages, and equip clients with in-depth reporting and recommendations on how to make campaigns more effective. Get in touch for more details.