It’s mid-November and Thanksgiving is just around the corner…but since marketers have to constantly live, eat and think three months in the future (minimum), we’re already well into 2020, people! NOW is the time to think about what’s coming down the pipe in influencer marketing, as most major brands report increasing investment in influencer spend (which is already expected to hit $15 billion by 2022).
There’s no time to lose, so let’s get started.
The Most Human Company Will Win
As marketing guru Mark Schafer writes, today’s worthwhile brands are created through an accumulation of human impressions, not ad impressions. People have an innate ability to sense when they’re being communicated to with authenticity and genuine human care – and that carries over into marketing.
It’s yet another reason why content creators have acquired such influence over their followers, and why 86% of young adults aspire to become an influencer. When done right, influencer marketing is about finding new and creative ways to communicate brand messages using their genuine voices – using the jokes they use, the language they use, the cultural sensibilities they use. In other words, the things that make them…human!
Celebrities Will Become Less Relevant
Content creators have undoubtedly replaced celebrities as the ones who we turn to for advice, guidance and entertainment all in one place. One significant reason behind this is the two-way connection they share with their audiences – while celebrities remain inaccessible, walled-off, and even protected from the public, influencers encourage communication and interaction.
Marketers have realized that it takes more than simply being famous to hold influence in a niche. Real influencers – the ones your brand needs to be working with – earned their status as genuine community builders by attracting like-minded individuals and providing valuable content. In other words, they’ve earned the trust and attention that keeps them going strong.
If trust is the most valuable currency of today’s social economy, then your brand can’t waste time with hollow and disingenuous advertising.
It’s also worth noting that some influencers have acquired such a high level of fame, they can be as expensive to work with as a traditional celebrity. Many influencers, once at a certain level of success, also find ways to enterprise their personal brands, either with merchandising or other services, and so they don’t necessarily depend on influencer marketing as their primary source of income.
That’s where mid-tier and micro influencers come in. Data shows that creators with a smaller but more engaged audience can be just as effective (if not more) in delivering ROI while keeping costs down. Don’t always assume that a high follower count always means better results.
Creative, Valuable… or Nothing
While it’s a phrase that gets said a lot in our industry, it just so happens to be true – and it’s becoming truer with each passing year. Social media is a crowded, noisy place, and the standard for what is considered fresh and exciting content continues to rise, especially for platforms such as Instagram, which have become saturated with unoriginal content and similar aesthetics.
Meanwhile, social media platforms themselves are offering more creative features, such as AR filters, easy editing tools, and others that make some formats such as TikTok videos so engaging (and addicting). These platforms are becoming equal-parts social media network and all-in-the-box editing tools. In addition, there’s a plethora of apps and software to quickly design high-quality content for not much money.
If brands want to get their messages across, they need to make sure they’re being told in the most creative way possible, and optimized for each platform. That means partnering with people who break the mold for a living – social media influencers.
Audio/Video Will Continue to Dominate
Social media has always progressed side-by-side with technology. Blogs rode the first wave as household computers became standard – then images, followed by audio and video. While there are shiny new technologies brewing on the horizon (such as Virtual Reality), right now we’re still experiencing the upward climb of Audio/Video. Mobile phones come equipped with more advanced cameras each year, which makes it easier than ever to make the leap from text to A/V-focused content.
Standardization Around Metrics
In the early days of influencer marketing, agencies focused on KPIs that didn’t meet marketers’ needs, such as Follower Counts, Likes and other vanity metrics. The past few years, however, have experienced an industry-wide consolidation to KPIs that are more commonly found in other forms of advertising, such as Views, Reach, Impressions etc.
As we go forward, we can expect to see even clearer and more standardized goals around bottom-funnel metrics, such as click-throughs and purchases, or even brand-lift studies such as what’s being offered on Facebook currently.
A lot of changes are on the horizon for 2020 – Instagram tweaking its Like policy, the rise of TikTok, and much much more. No matter what happens, one thing is for certain – it will be influencer marketing’s biggest year yet. See you then!