The Evolution of Influencer Marketing

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Is influencer marketing just a fad? You must have been hearing a lot of buzz around Influencer marketing these days. But is it something that’s limited to businesses and brands alone?

Not at all. The average person too, has realized the impact of social media and the power of influencers. Just search on Google Trends for “how to become an influencer” and you’ll see its growing popularity.

Google Trends

Image via Google Trends

This popularity is not just a fad. It is backed by data that proves the real value of influencer marketing for marketers today. And we truly believe it is here to stay. In this article, we’ll discuss the future of influencer marketing and what it means for marketers.

You may be wondering how influencer marketing has become so popular so rapidly. The truth is that it isn’t a new concept. Influencer marketing has been in existence for ages. However, there has been a continuous evolution in its form and application.

In the past, it existed as of word-of-mouth recommendations from people you knew. Later, marketers took to celebrity endorsements to influence their target audience.

Today, social media and the internet have opened new doors for influencer marketing. Influencers and their social media followers have overshadowed celebrity endorsements. And this trend is all set to rule the future too.

The Future of Influencer Marketing

So, what does the future of influencer marketing look like? Before we get to that, let me share some interesting facts that about influencer marketing.

Content posted by popular social influencers can go viral in seconds. Marketers have realized that influencer marketing not only improves ROI, but also boosts trust and credibility of brands.

Influencers have loyal followers who trust their reviews and feedback on brands and their products. Marketers have been quick to leverage such word-of-mouth marketing to win over customers who act upon influencer recommendations.

The best part about influencer marketing? Marketers don’t need to spend exorbitant amounts on influencers as compared to traditional celebrity endorsements. Of course, with businesses getting impressive returns, influencers have started to increase their compensation too.

So, the big question is, what’s the future of influencer marketing? Let’s find out.

Top Influencer Marketing Trends for the Future

1. Instagram Will Continue to Reign

A recent study found that 78% of influencers prefer Instagram over other platforms for posting branded content.

Instagram Will Continue to Reign

Image via eMarketer

You may have heard of the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Influencers understand this too well and prefer Instagram due to its stronger visual appeal. They also find it  easier to create content using an image rather than writing long posts.

What this means for marketers?

Leverage Instagram for your influencer marketing if you still haven’t. Instagram will continue to be integral in shaping the future of influencer marketing.

2. Leveraging the Power of Micro-Influencers

The beauty of influencer marketing lies in the fact that you don’t need to collaborate with celebrities alone to be successful. In fact, working with micro-influencers can deliver greater engagement at a fraction of the cost. With increase in the number of followers, the engagement rate of an influencer steadily declines.

Because of their ability to build strong relationships with their followers, micro-influencers are able to generate higher engagement rates. So they are also the preferred choice of many brands.

What this means for marketers?

Make micro-influencers an integral part of your influencer marketing strategy.

3. Multi-Channel Approach

In a survey by Salesforce, 63% of marketers said they’re focusing on distributing their marketing efforts across devices and channels. In fact, successful marketers are 12.8X more likely to do so than underperformers.

What this means for marketers?

When you’re working out your influencer marketing strategy, make sure to include a mix of social channels.

4. Increased Budgets

Another shift in the influencer marketing game is the growing demand from influencers for fair compensation as opposed to free products. Marketers have realized the value of influencers and the need for competitive compensation to keep them motivated.

In fact, a study found that 37% of marketers set aside budgets for influencer marketing today. And, 67% of them are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets in future.

What this means for marketers?

Gone are the days of collaborating with influencers in exchange for free products or services. If you’re serious about being in the game, offer them fair compensation.

5. Adherence to FTC Guidelines

The FTC has now made it mandatory for influencers to disclose their relationships with brands –  whether their endorsements are paid for or compensated with free products.

Not only that, the disclosure must be clearly visible with a clear indication of sponsored posts.

Lord & Taylor, a fashion retailer, worked with 50 fashion influencers on a sponsored campaign. However, they failed to disclose this partnership which appeared as deceptive advertising in the eyes of consumers. As a result, they were sued by the FTC and were forced to settle the dispute legally.

What this means for marketers?

Make sure that your influencers clearly disclose details of the collaboration on their branded posts. On Instagram, this can easily be done by using hashtags such as #ad or #sponsored.

6. The Use of Technology in Influencer Marketing

Another change being witnessed in influencer marketing in recent years is the use of technology. Companies are more focused than ever on measuring their influencer marketing outcomes. This is possible using influencer marketing platforms or software.

You can measure metrics such as click-through rate, engagement rate, etc. to analyze the effectiveness of your campaign. Grin’s influencer marketing platform can help you track your campaign progress and measure ROI easily. It allows you to see which posts are performing better than others so that you can make adjustments accordingly.

Data-centric influencer marketing campaigns allow marketers to choose influencers who are right for their business. It indeed saves a lot of time, money, and effort.

What this means for marketers?

Leverage influencer marketing platforms to make the most of your campaigns.

7. Shift from Transactional to Long-Term Relationships

The idea of influencer marketing as a transactional relationship, (limited to a one-time paid sponsorship or promotional campaign), is taking a backseat. Brands are now focusing on treating influencers as partners rather than a mere transaction.

As a result, influencers are more invested in their collaborations – not just for money and fame but also because they feel respected and valued. So, their passion in these brands reflect in their content too. And this makes them more authentic and appealing to their followers.

So, how do you build long-term relationships with influencers? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Trust your influencers and provide creative freedom.
  • Offer fair pay.
  • Follow your influencers on social networks and engage with their content.
  • Share their blog posts and comment meaningfully on them.
  • Mention them your brand campaigns.
  • Help them become more visible in your professional networks by organizing events.

What this means for marketers?

Treat your influencers as people, not tools. Focus on building personal relationships that can be mutually beneficial.

Final Thoughts

Following a well-planned strategy will definitely help you succeed in all your future influencer marketing campaigns. All you need to focus on is finding the right influencers and developing long-lasting relationships with them. I’m sure you are now convinced that the future of influencer marketing looks pretty bright.

How are you planning to make your influencer marketing strategy work in 2018 and beyond? Let us know in the comments below.