This article will cover:
More Transparency in Marketing Relationships Due to FTC Regs
One-Off Tactics Won’t Work Anymore
Instagram Stories Will Take Over Influencer Market Share
Instagram is Awesome, But More Social Media Platforms Will Be Utilized
Micro-Influencers Reign Supreme
Shareable Content from Influencers Will Propel Brands to New Success
More Personal Brands Will Spawn from Influencers
Big Brands Will Increasingly Partner with Influencers
It seems almost counterintuitive in our sci-fi, AI, fast-paced world, but people want human interaction more than ever before.
You can buy synthetic meat, install an App on your smartphone that will tell you where to buy your shoes, and in less than a year autonomous cars will likely flood our highways.
Yet we yearn for that old-fashioned, mom-and-pop feeling, as 83 million millennials “interface” with one another on their phones, even in countries where people don’t have electricity or roads. We covet hope and interaction.
The United States’ largest generation prefers to shop at small and local businesses and only trusts people that they have developed a personal or community relationship with – even if it is a virtual one.
Forbes explains that the global industry is booming but not in the way that it did for Baby Boomers.
Millennials value experience over goods.
From concerts to social events, and give-back campaigns, the way your business will reach out to the modern consumer is through locally inspired influencers who have built trust and community.
Entrepreneur predicted the future in an article written more than 3 years ago. In it they stated,
“Business is moving from products to services to experiences. If you think about the next five years, it’s going to get harder and harder to make money in transactional businesses, so you’ve got to figure out some way to break out of that. The future of small business is more and more about mutual-benefit partnering on a global scale, which we call “the reciprocity advantage.”
We don’t know where they got their crystal ball, but the influencer marketing trend has not only come true, but it seems to be displacing transactional business entirely.
And if you aren’t convinced that your business needs to embrace influencer marketing trends as we move into the next decade, take a gander at this summary from a study conducted by Business Insider:
The biggest driver of sales in the modern marketplace is TRUST.
The report states specifically that “content on [successful] platforms is more likely to be viewed as forthright and honest, which increases the persuasiveness of ads and marketing messages that appear alongside it. This also creates ideal conditions for thought leadership and branded and sponsored content to flourish.”
Potential customers need to trust they’ll make a safe landing on your site.
Marketers are catching on, and at least 84 percent say that they plan on working with an influencer in 2018.
GDPR is also introducing a whole set of new regulations on data, so navigating social media platforms will be more challenging than ever before. Without influencer marketing – done right – your business is leaving money on the table.
Now that you understand how important influencer marketing has become, let’s look at the biggest trends for 2018 and beyond.
Speaking of trust, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has enacted some strict rules that prohibit influencer marketing from being “hidden” from consumers.
To sum up what this means for influencer campaigns, people will no longer be able to make Twitter, Instagram or Facebook posts pretending to “reflect the independent opinions of an impartial user,” to put it in FTC parlance.
If someone is promoting your product or service, they will have to disclose that openly.
This translates into an even greater need to develop relationships with influencers who have already developed trust and buy-in from their audiences.
Transparency of relationships between brands and the influencer will reign supreme.
Another influencer trend going by the wayside are one-off marketing tactics.
Inc. suggests that sticking with one influencer for a decent length of time will make more sense to brands than just hopping in bed with every influencer they come across.
By trying to have multiple influencer relationships in an attempt to cover more digital real-estate companies are diluting the “trust” factor and the authenticity which millennials crave.
WARC reveals that brands like Target and Band-Aid are abandoning transactional marketing and developing long-term relationships with influencers – and its working.
Take the time to develop a long-term relationship with a trusted influencer, and your business should see positive results.
Instagram Stories will be the preferred method for influencers to share content.
This video and image sharing tool has taken social media by storm. Instagram stories last only 24-hours, but if you use this as an advertising tool you can place stories on Instagram Stories’ user feeds as a “commercial.”
You can follow this easy how-to to make your own Instagram Story, but let’s look at how this single tool is stealing market share and reaching the massive mobile-friendly audience like never before:
- Instagram Stories had over 300 million daily users when it launched in 2016 and it is growing exponentially every day. According to Adweek, it is one of the fastest growing social media tools.
- Airbnb used Instagram Stories to get users to take a poll, and J. Crew used the tool to promote a “pre-sale” to Instagram users. Their conversion rates went through the roof. Most businesses see a 15-25 percent swipe-through rate increase when using this medium.
- Jay Rockman, director of marketing and business development at the anonymous social platform Whisper said that within just two days of adding links to their site from Instagram Stories they got an additional quarter of a million views.
As awesome as Instagram is for influencer marketing, other social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for example, will all see a rise in influencer marketing.
Research is showing that celebrity isn’t needed, necessarily, and that higher engagement with brands happens when there is an affinity for an established influencer.
Video reach is especially high on YouTube. It allows for a connection that cannot be ‘faked’ as it usually is with traditional brand communications. Even the CMO of General Motors agrees.
TechCrunch also offers a sneak-peak into influencer marketing trends on Facebook.
There is a new tool available to Facebook marketers called the Branded Content Matching search that allows you to select the biographical characteristics of a creator’s fans (remember our hint about millennials preferring local businesses?).
From there, companies can contact influencers and negotiate terms for collaboration.
Other social media platforms are catching on too, to make influencer marketing easier for B2Bs with updated tools.
Multiple social media accounts will be needed to establish authority as a brand with influencer marketing and to reach the most people.
Big companies have thus far targeted influencers with 100,000 followers or more, but the trend will be to develop relationships with smaller influencers. There are a few good reasons why this is happening:
- Using a micro-influencer can yield your brand 60% higher engagement.
- Micro-influencers get you 22.2% more engagement on social media.
- They cost about 7 times less than mega-influencers.
Techfunnel states that while 67% of marketers say that influencers have helped their companies reach their sales goals, more brands are turning to micro-influencers due to their lower cost and greater reach.
As an example, the beauty company Glossier took advantage of micro-influencers to grow their brand 3 times over in a few months. They are now recipients of at least $24 million in Series B funding. They use a host of micro-influencers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other sites to help promote their beauty products.
The micro-influencer is tapping into a billion-dollar industry, and smart marketing CEOs from every brand you can think of are using them.
Micro-influencer, Allie Lerner who writes about her love of yoga and wellness and posts pictures of her yoga practice on Instagram has partnered with the yoga-inspired clothing brand Spiritual Gangster to help promote yoga pants, shirts, and more.
It’s the story that sells the clothes, and not necessarily the clothing itself. Though Spiritual Gangster offers catchy, yoga-related sayings. No one’s going to pay $79 for a t-shirt without some edge and creativity behind the brand.
This ability to create a narrative around a brand will propel influencer marketing more than ever.
Addidas is using micro-influencers and long-form video to promote their brand. They launched a long-form video series in 2016 that utilizes their relationship with Tango Squad FC to help grow their brand in Tango Squad’s influenced communities across the UK and Europe.
Quan Mai a micro-influencer in Los Angeles says,
“I like keeping my work simple but significant and focus on my passion for multimedia. The challenge is how do you sell yourself without selling your soul, right? I mean, getting to collaborate with brands is great, but I have to know that I can be authentic before I agree on any projects. I will not do and say things I don’t know or have experienced, I only talk about things I know — that’s where authenticity lives. I want people to believe in what I say and respect what I do.”
This is the type of collaboration that brands will increasingly seek to remain authentic in the marketplace.
The trend in content from influencers of all types is video, video, video, with some pictures and infographics thrown in. Just look back to Adidas’ long-form video as an example.
Or look at the meteoric rise of Instagram Stories, micro-video clips that are highly relatable and put a real face on activities, products, and services that every-day people can sink their teeth into.
- 85% of the US internet audience watches videos online.
- Over 500 million (half a BILLION) people watch videos on Facebook every day (Forbes).
- Video grows revenue 49% faster for companies who use it than for companies that don’t.
The question is, do you want Chinese water-torture type growth for your company, or a Niagara Falls of new customers clicking on your site?
Video, just like micro-influencers, trigger much higher engagement rates.
A branded video from Momondo, for example, captures the real-time emotions of joy, surprise, and awe as people discover their heritage through DNA testing.
This is a perfect example of the type of highly-shareable media your brand should be creating to gain market share.
Intuit CEO Scott Cook has said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is,” and partly due to this sea change in marketing, more brands will evolve from the influencers themselves, aside from just being courted as partners for larger brands.
This is happening in part because true influence can’t be counted simply with the number of Twitter or Instagram followers they have. True engagement with the world comes from being authentic, passionate, and engaged yourself. People respond to these traits in another human being, and naturally, gravitate toward them.
An example of a brand-builder that became a brand can perhaps be found to no greater degree than in Kylie Jenner. Love them or hate them, the Kardashians have incredible influence on social media. Her Kylie Cosmetics brand is now a $420 million-dollar empire. Enough said.
Digiday explains how larger companies are planning to use influencer marketing in the years to come:
Brands are cutting back to use 25 influencers or less where they used to use hundreds.
Authenticity is more important than ever.
Additional, free tools to find influencers include:
Influencer marketing will utterly change the virtual landscape. People increasingly want a connection with like-minded individuals and experiences rather than “stuff.”
Gone are the days of click-to-pay. They have been replaced by relationship, authenticity, passion, and creativity.
The micro-influencer, with inventive and inspiring content, will grow new brands and propel existing brands into newfound success.