It’s easy to forget how recent a phenomenon influencer marketing is – Instagram isn’t even 10 years old yet! As such, the techniques and rules that govern it have had to grow quickly – and they’re still evolving.
Over the last three years, however, influencer marketing has gone from strength to strength, thanks largely to greater regulation and the efforts of brands to create more impactful, authentic campaigns.
But as we progress deeper into the new year, what does the future have in store for influencer marketing and what is the potential for businesses considering entering or re-entering the market?
New metrics key to business opportunities
Ever since Instagram announced its global-trial to hide ‘likes’ last November, the influencer industry has been preparing its permanent rollout. While there has been some backlash, such as Nikki Minaj stating publicly, she’ll boycott Instagram if ‘likes’ are removed, the overall reaction has been positive.
If the trial does become permanent, vanity metrics such as ‘likes’ and follower count will become a less relevant way for businesses to measure influencer marketing success.
Instead they will need to explore metrics that represent conversions further down the purchasing funnel, for example the number of users saving, ‘swiping up’ or sharing a post. This will encourage marketers and influencers to make their content as creative, compelling and shareable as possible which will in turn improve the impact to the bottom line for businesses.
Brands and influencers favour exclusive partnerships
Short-term influencer-brand partnerships are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Instead, brands and influencers are increasingly looking for long-term exclusive arrangements with one another.
This relationship gives businesses more opportunities to monetise their partnerships with influencers across multiple channels in a much more strategic way, for example via events and product development, and above-the-line advertising, such as TV, magazines and billboard ads. Converse’s One Star Hotel campaign in 2018 is a great example of this. It used both celebrity and influencer endorsement throughout its build-up and was heralded as one of the most successful campaigns of the year, gaining the brand 40,000 new Instagram followers and generating 226 million media impressions.
Our recent whitepaper found that 34% of consumers in the UK, US and Germany say they are influenced or strongly influenced to purchase products or services based on influencer’s content, rising to 91% among 16-24-year olds. And if consumers see influencers they trust posting about products over a longer period of time and across a variety of channels, it establishes an influencer’s genuine affinity for a product or brand, making their endorsement more authentic and trusted.
Using influencer imagery on above-the-line activity
Alongside longer-term partnerships, we are seeing more influencers sell the rights to their content to brands for use on other channels and platforms.
Influencers are increasingly using more professional equipment to ensure higher-spec quality content that can easily translate to a brand’s advertising activity beyond Instagram.
This investment in better quality tech allows influencers to monetise their content beyond social media and act as the consistent brand spokesperson across channels.
It’s a new area of influencer marketing and the norms are still developing. However, what is clear is that the results can be stunning – we worked with a luxury car brand on the launch of a new model. The outputs were amazing, one influencer in particular shot a TV-quality ad using drones for a fraction of a normal creative budget!
What’s clear is the influencer marketing sector is changing. Popular techniques of the past, such as short-term partnerships and solely image-based campaigns, are quickly being forgotten as brands and influencers form more collaborative wide-ranging partnerships with profitability as a priority. As these partnerships progress, we’ll increasingly see more holistic, multi-channel and creative influencer-led campaigns. It’s an exciting time for businesses to explore the sector further or dip their toes in for the first time.