- 325% increase in Google searches of phrase “influencer marketing” in last 12 months
- 67% of marketing firms to increase their influencer marketing budget
- More than double the increase in new influencer marketing platforms and agencies
This data is from the Influencer Marketing Hub 2017 study. And what these astounding numbers reiterate is that influencer marketing is in, and it’s here to stay.
It may be fairly new to the game, but influencer marketing is seeing tremendous growth. And that trend will continue in 2018. The last five years saw influencer marketing moving from an obscure strategy to one of the bigger marketing phenomena in the digital world.
The continuing rise of influencer marketing will continue in 2018. With a drop in print and TV advertising, it will continue to be a driving force when it comes to brand marketing. An increasing number of brands will turn to influencers to expand their reach. This authentic and organic marketing method is one of the most effective ways to engage customers.
So what will be the top trends that will dominate influencer marketing this year? Let’s take a look at the top 10 influencer marketing trends that we should expect to see in 2018.
1. More Brands will use Influencer Marketing
A strategy is successful when you know that it is giving tremendous returns. Businesses are getting solid returns when it comes to influencer marketing. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub 2017 study, businesses are making $7.65 on an average for every $1 spent. It is no surprise then the influencer marketing platforms have more than doubled in the last 2 years.
This new kid on the block’s growing popularity is also evident from the search engine trends. According to Google Trends, the number of times “influencer marketing” has been searched has grown by close to 90% from 2013 to present day.
Image viaGoogle Trends
More than half of marketers believe that they get better customers because of influencer marketing. With a greater allocation of budget for both influencer and content marketing, this trend will be in the spotlight this year too.
You can use influencer marketing to have experts, relevant to your industry, create content surrounding your products. A perfect example of this would be Torrid Fashion, the plus-size retail store for women. They regularly partner with plus-size models like Ashleigh, here, who promote body positivity.
2. Year of the Micro-Influencers
Another trend that has emerged is the kind of reach that micro-influencers have. Despite a following of only 1,000-10,000 on social media, micro-influencers have a higher engagement rate than mega influencer and celebrities with hundred of thousands or millions of followers.
People tend to place more trust in micro-influencers. They are also seen as more authentic. Greater engagement with followers is important not just beneficial for the influencers, but also for the brands that partner with them.
Just look at what Alex Aldeborgh has done for Organic Girl and Safe Catch Foods. Paired with the image of an appetizing salad, she’s shared a quick recipe for it too. Notice how she casually mentions both brands.
Choosing the right influencers is the key to a successful campaign. Brands need to find those influencers who identify with what they represent. This way the campaign will be able to effectively target its niche audience.
3. Brands will Engage More with Influencers
With more people entering the influencer marketing space, it will get more crowded. Brands will need to have a clear policy in place when it comes to engaging the influencers.
A one-off campaign with an influencer is no longer going to work. Brands will have to realize that they need long-term working relationships with influencers.
According to the earlier quoted Launchmetrics report, 78% of marketers who launched influencer marketing campaigns in 2016 have been working with influencers for at least a year. Fostering a long-term relationship between brands and influencers has become important. Influencers working as brand ambassadors will help enhance the brand’s value.
A classic example of a long-term influencer relationship would be Old Navy and their collaboration with Meghan Rienks. The fashion retailer partnered with Rienks in the summer of 2016 to create travel and packing tips. They partnered again for a holiday season-themed video series later that year.
Most of these influencers have a presence on multiple social media platforms. With the right kind of relationship with the influencers, your brand can be showcased across multiple platforms.
It is natural that with its growing popularity as a marketing tactic, demand for influencers will rise. Those who entered this space earlier will have the edge.
4. Influencer Content will be Desirable
Authenticity can make or break a campaign. 2018 will see a rise in influencers taking more control of the content. If you’ve chosen well, your influencer will understand your brand and the market. Their ideas on the campaign come from what they have learned from their engagement with their followers.
When it comes to social media, influencers know the space. So when they give you their valuable insights, listen to them. They know what they are talking about.
In order to nurture a long-term relationships with the influencers, brands will have to communicate better with them. Make sure you are not breathing down their necks or giving them guidelines that are too restrictive.
You want to give your influencers the kind of creative freedom Next Games gave Lele Pons to promote their new Walking Dead game. In this hilarious skit, Pons is featured with other influencers like Anwar Jibawi as the game comes to life while they play it on their mobile. She even offers a special giveaway to motivate users to download the game.
For campaigns to evolve from run-of-the-mill ads to something more creative, influencers’ involvement with the content is crucial.
5. Enhanced Content: More Videos
New platforms for influencer marketing are emerging, and that is likely to continue this year too. Good quality, creative content with a good production value will grab more attention and engagement.
As far as trends go, video marketing is a still a sought after model that continues to produce results. Integrating videos in marketing campaigns will increase the digital reach.
A study by gen.video and Geometry Global showed that video was the most powerful tool to increase sales. 90% of social media users are influenced to buy a product after seeing what it’s about.
Even social media platforms seem to have realized its effectiveness. Instagram launched their video “Stories” feature in 2017, similar to its rival Snapchat. The popularity of live-streaming, video apps and looping shows that videos are still preferred when it comes to greater visibility.
Its mass appeal is reflected in higher viewer engagement through Facebook Live, Twitter Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Twitch, Snapchat, Boomerang, and now Facebook Watch.
Kohl’s collaborated with renowned YouTube vlogger, ItsJudyTime, to boost their Black Friday sales. The influencer took her mother to Kohl’s for a Black Friday haul and live streamed it on her Facebook page. She even included descriptions and links of the products they bought to promote their Cyber Monday sales.
6. The Rise of Instagram
In the last few years, Instagram has seen an explosion of use as compared to other social media platforms. If statistics are to be believed, 95 million photos and videos are posted daily on Instagram, with users liking 4.2 billion posts every day.
Even brands have increased their spending on Instagram social influencers, and are achieving a higher engagement rate than Twitter. Looking at Snapchat’s third quarter earnings report from November 2017, and it is clear that they’re struggling. Their stock price has taken a 20% hit, and they have also seen a 60% drop in advertising rates. Unless their influencer-friendly steps take root, their decline will continue.
Cashing in on the popularity of Instagram, 25 million businesses have profiles on Instagram. A Mediakix study reported that 80% of Instagram users follow a business. Brand-sponsored influencers posts have also seen exponential growth between 2015 and 2017.
The online shopping company, Wish, has been all over Instagram recently with their brand-sponsored influencer content. In paid partnership with soccer stars like Paul Pogba, seen here, they’ve released a series of video ads. The ads showcase how the brand is making the wishes of these stars come true.
7. Influencer Marketing in Retail to Grow
Many fashion brands are using influencers to reach out. Department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Harrods, and Bergdorf Goodman have entered into partnerships with fashion influencers to connect with consumers. Zara and Sephora also launched successful marketing campaigns through fashion and beauty influencers on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Social media influencers have more say on buying trends as compared to celebrities. A study by the social media marketing company MuseFind reported that 92% of consumers trust influencers more than a celebrity endorsement.
Lord & Taylor got 50 influencers to post a picture on Instagram wearing the same dress. The dress sold out at all of their stores in three days.
ASOS, Revolve, Daniel Wellington, and Nordstrom are a few of the names in retail that have seen tremendous growth through influencer marketing campaigns.
8. Measuring ROI will be Vital
The surge in companies using influencer marketing tactics has certainly grown, but measurability continues to be a big challenge. A lot of companies are hesitant to enter this space as tracking returns is still a problem.
Brands are already tracking results through likes and comments on posts, use of coupon codes, use of hashtags, retweets, and clickthroughs. In 2018, marketers should expect better tools and programs to help them track the success of their campaigns.
Speaking of coupon codes and giveaways, here’s a good example of how you can do that. Loot Crate sponsored YouTube sensation PewDiePie’s “Weird Stuff Online” web series. In return, he posted a special discount code for the brand’s products.
9. More Investments in ESports
ESports is a new domain that influencer marketing, if correctly deployed, can bring in huge results. It is expected to be a $1.5 billion industry by 2020
With the niche following it has, influencer marketing will play an important role. Competitive gaming’s followers are a passionate bunch. Successful aligning their passion points with the right brand will be something to lookout for in 2018.
Mindshare research shows that 49% of eSports fans spend all of their time online either watching games or reading more about the field. Players, commentators, writers, and broadcasters are major influencers in the space, with great engagement rates with their fans.
Brands like Red Bull have been heavily invested in the esports industry since 2006. Apart from sponsoring several players and teams, they also host and broadcast numerous events and competitions. Most of which they then promote on their social media channels. They’ve even got dedicated pages on social media, Red Bull Games, where they post relevant gaming content.
10. Rise of B2B Influencer Marketing
The growth of influencer marketing has been seen primarily in the B2C world. Now more and more B2B brands are experimenting with this tactic, but with a major difference. Instead of looking outside, companies are appointing their employees as influencers.
If you are looking to buy a product, wouldn’t you trust someone from the company to know more about it than anyone else? There has been a whopping 191% increase in employee advocacy programs from 2013 to 2015.
Look no further than Landis+Gyr and their employee advocacy program. The pioneers in the energy industry started a pilot program in which they leverage the social media accounts of their employees.
The aim was to spread the word about their focus on customer needs, innovation, and core values. And their employees delivered. One of their campaigns managed to garner more than 1500 engagements, 1800 plus shares, and earned media close to $10,800.
Influencer marketing will continue to be an important strategy for brands in 2018. We will probably see more benchmarks set by it that will continue this year and beyond. Over 67% of marketers claim that finding the right influencers for their brands is a huge challenge. It will be a work in progress.
Brand promotion is increasingly becoming more authentic, and influencers will be the kings and queens of authenticity. One more thing to remember in 2018 is that as the demand for influencers is growing, marketers need to come with an adequate compensation model for them. The days of free merchandise or a campaign for mere goodwill are gone. Influencers have become social media stars, and they need to be treated as such.
Measuring true influence and ROI are often the grey areas of marketing, but hopefully by the end of 2018, we will see more growth in this area. All in all, expect some cool trends this year in the world of influencer marketing. If you know about any other new trends , please share them in comments below.