Influencers. Only a few years ago this word didn’t ring a ball for you. Now it does. It’s remarkable to observe how fast the biggest brands in the world are jumping on the band wagon of the Influencer Marketing. Influencers are people with a huge online audience on social media (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest). They’ve built the level of trust with their audience many brands can only dream about. So companies are seeking an opportunity to present their products and services, via this growing community of social media influencers, to their potential end users.
We reached out the best Influencer Marketing agencies teams to tell us what they have to say about how fast will the market continue to grow, how will the industry deal with issues such as fake followers, auditing, what sectors will see the most growth of changes and more.
Influencer Marketing Thought Leaders:
- Yoav Adomi
- Stephanie Stabulis
- Harry Hugo
- Tim Armoo
- Pablo Davidov
- Mathew Micheli
- Jennifer Li Chiang
- Emilie Tabor
- Alessandro Bogliari
- Jake Hay
- Sarah Hughes
- Maria A. di Fonzo
- Sam Foroozesh
And so here’s what our experts had to say on the topic. If you want to contribute your view on influencer marketing trends fill in the form here.
Swiftic – Yoav Adomi, Co-Founder & CEO
Creators and influencers experienced during 2018 how problematic it is to relay solely on the social platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc.) for monetization.
The change of the Facebook algorithm alongside demonetization action taken by Youtube and other platforms, forced the creators to find new direct monetization tools.
Using Fan Clubs (www.swiftic.io) or monetization tool like ‘Goals’ (Goals.swiftic.io) will allow creators and influencers to both monetize their fan base directly as well as collect valuable users’ data to be used for future influencer marketing campaigns.
HireInfluence – Stephanie Stabulis, Strategic Social Media Marketing & Integrated Communications
Brands will contract more long-term partnerships with influencers that feel more genuine instead of one-off campaigns. This goes hand-in-hand with the focus from both brands and influencers to remain authentic and real with audiences; influencers will continue to work only with brands that align with their values and will push to have some creative control over content to assure it’s created with their audience in mind.
We will likely see brands continue to heavily pursue micro-influencers for their ability to carry a more authentic message, be less commercial in their presence and extend brand influencer networks and campaigns at a great value. We should also expect a bigger push from brands on data markers for potential influencers (demographics, engagement rate, view rates, etc.) to determine partnership rates.
We expect to see more video content on the rise (whether it’s feed videos, live, or IGTV), as it brings another level of authenticity and connection with influencers, beyond just a static image. Additionally, we expect to see see a bigger push from influencers and brands to involve podcasts as a main influencer marketing platform – adding a brand new focus on audio as a promotion consideration that allows brands to provide more value through collaborative content, be more rich in their campaign context and provide more talking points about their brand than allowed through dominant platforms like Instagram.
The Goat Agency – Harry Hugo, Co-Founder
Influencer marketing is now an integrated part of a brands marketing strategy, so 2019 should be the year of innovation as brands move beyond the ‘why’ should we use influencers to ‘how can we’ use influencers. This year will see huge innovation in influencer engagement and social platforms.
I’m expecting to see a level of professionalism being bought to the industry. The Business of Influencers Board has been set up to independently aid the influencer marketing industry, from governance to accountability they will be bringing some order to the industry. I’ll be joining as one of 6 members on this board and am looking forward to supporting its progress.
FanBytes – Tim Armoo, CEO
I think influencer marketing is going to undergo a major change and that’s to influencers being seen more as distributors of content.
Fundamentally what influencers provide is media space with a large and engaged audience. As a consequence, they are going to be treated as media entities with them distributing content rather than them being seeing as content creators.
Brands are going to want to have control of the content and separate that with distribution being handled by influencers solely.
This will then mean that influencer marketing will be able to be used en par with other social media marketing like Facebook and Instagram ads.
Amecia Noize – Pablo Davidov, Digital Marketing Growth Hacker
We believe that two of the main trends of 2019 in Influencer Marketing will have to do with authenticity and ROI.
Authenticity: Influencers wanting to boost their image and numbers in order to receive larger deals is nothing new. First of all, fake followers used to be purchased in order to increase the size of the influencer’s perceived audience. Then, when they were being called out because their “large audience” was not engaging with content, the influencers started buying likes and comments, in order to boost their engagement rate. Now the evolution has gone to the extreme where some influencers have actually been faking “sponsored” posts, in order to demonstrate a track record of Influencer Marketing campaigns. Thankfully the majority of influencers are honest and have strong work ethics; however, it will take just one bad apple to rot an entire campaign. To that point, agencies are taking stronger steps in coming up with in-house solutions to identify influencers with artificially inflated numbers.
ROI has always been the “million dollar” question in Social Media Marketing as a whole. It is no different for Influencer Marketing. Whereas Influencer Marketing really started as a channel meant to drive brand awareness, more and more companies are leveraging this marketing channel to drive sales and conversions. Being able to calculate the ROI of a campaign is critical to demonstrate performance. The accurate calculation of a campaign ROI will take a much stronger importance in 2019.
VIRAL NATION – Mathew Micheli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner
Brands are going to exploring and implementing more conversion based campaigns to truly measure ROI.
Brands are going to be treating influencer marketing more as an emphasized part of their overall marketing mix vs a line item in their production budgets.
MuseFind – Jennifer Li Chiang, CEO
The main trend is the demand for influencer marketing and the access to it for all businesses: Big and small.
IMA – Emilie Tabor, Founder & CMO
Driving Social Change & Impact – The impact of social media & screens on our everyday lives has had a huge impact, and we believe that influencer marketing will be instrumental in raising greater awareness and moving the needle on these topics.
Industry Transparency – Unpacking influencer marketing and how it is run in different brands, agencies and clients alike is a mammoth task. But what we do know is that we are all moving towards standardizing practices including pricing and advertising guidelines to create a more transparent practice.
B2B and Employer Branding – There’s been such saturation around consumer marketing leaving a huge gap for employer branding and B2B players. We’re now seeing clients using influencers for their marketing strategy, and have no doubt this will be a huge trend this year.
The Influencer Marketing Factory – Alessandro Bogliari, Co-Founder
More quality in influencers selection (not just vanity metrics but also comments quality and real community). More focus on KPIs and CAC + ROI. More Asian companies trying to enter the US marketing through Influencer Marketing.
PopShorts – Jake Hay, Partner & Head of Business Development
I see this year having a similar growth to the previous couple of years. More brands are buying in and the brands that have already been in this space for some time are doubling down.
When it comes to fake followers and the authenticity of an influencer’s audience, this really is not an issue. Platforms have begun really cracking down on these bots and inactive accounts. Additionally, there are several data tools in the market that can audit a creators audience for fake followers.
When it comes to where the largest amount of growth will be, I believe it is going to be in industries that were slow adopters of influencer marketing. Things that have sensitive messaging like pharmaceuticals or government programs. These will be interesting spaces to keep an eye on.
With regard to platform growth, it is pretty easy to say that Instagram and Youtube are the dominant forces in this space and they aren’t going anywhere. I think platforms that will be interesting to watch are ones that appeal to younger audiences such as TikTok or any of the new emerging apps. These have some serious opportunity for growth in 2019.
Overall I think influencer marketing is no longer seen as an optional piece in many brand’s media plans. The past few years have really cemented the effectiveness of using influencers. If you are not currently working with influencers I’d encourage you to take a look at similar companies in your space and see where their dollars are being allocated on social media. There’s a strong chance they are already working with influencers and having a positive ROI as a result.
Collective Bias, an Inmar Company – Sarah Hughes, Product Marketing Manager
Prepare for the rise of the chatbot and user-generated content.
With 1.2 billion users on Facebook Messenger alone, the chatbot era is here to stay. Many brands began implementing chatbots as a way to communicate quickly with customers and troubleshoot customer service issues, but in 2019 we are going to see the role of chatbots continue to grow and develop. Not only will this platform continue to serve as a direct line of communication with customers, but brands will start tapping into messenger bots to provide personalized product recommendations, discounts and rebates, and even user-generated content.
There will be a united front combating influencer fraud.
The hottest Influencer Marketing topic in 2018 was influencer fraud, and that conversation isn’t stopping in 2019. We are going to see a united front between brands, agencies, and platforms pushing back against fraudulent behavior in influencer marketing. Agencies are already starting to take a concrete stand against influencers engaging in unethical practices such as buying followers or engagements. Platforms like Instagram are working to remove fake followers. We can’t leave the crackdown to the FTC alone.
There will be an increase in Content to Commerce.
It’s no secret that shoppers like to save money. We recently conducted a Google Shopper Survey and 42 percent of online consumers are more likely to buy an influencer or celebrity endorsed product if there is an associated promo code!
In 2019, we will see more influencer content tied to offers/promotions. Contextual influencer content can take advantage of consumer adoption of rebates, cash back opportunities, and promo codes tying content to commerce. And Brands and Retailers need additional tools in their arsenal to reach today’s shoppers. Influencers, SMS messaging, and chatbots are just a few ways marketers can deliver personalized, timely offers direct to consumers
Vanity influencer metrics will finally lose importance.
Influencer marketing has mostly been viewed as a tactic to drive awareness, not concrete results (like sales) – but in 2019, that is going to have to change.
Vanity metrics, like reach, will lose importance. We are already seeing marketers talk about nano-influencers or micro-influencers, which shows reach is not the holy grail, but more importance on engagement and quality of the influencer’s audience.
Influencer agencies are going to have to get smarter with their campaigns, from influencer selection to media placements, in order to prove a positive ROAS. Offering measurement tools like sales lift studies or foot traffic analyses are going to be crucial to showing that influencers do more than just raise awareness: they can drive sales. Analytics coupled with technology, such as AI will help refine influencer marketing to deliver better, more predictable results.
Traackr – Pierre-Loïc, Co-founder
Brand marketers will focus on alignment and brand fit over followers. Out with the old, in with the new. As brands have historically paid influencers based on their reach, in 2019, they will reassess this metric of working with influencers and place their focus on the quality of engagement, identity and voice of the influencer, audience relevance and how the audience is interacting with the content relevance
Brand marketers will move away from transactional to relational influencer marketing. Historically, many brand marketers saw influencer marketing as a straight ad buy. Brand marketers learned the hard way that this strategy often appeared inauthentic to their audience, resulting in a lower ROI than expected. In 2019, brand marketers will shift from transactional strategies and instead begin investing more in cultivating organic relationships in-house with influencers as well as longer term partnerships with paid influencers.
Brand marketers will focus on creating an advanced approach for measuring success. Brand marketers in 2019 will gain deeper insights into understanding how influencers fit into their consumer journey and quantifying the impact influencer programs have on marketing objectives. This advanced approach will give brand marketers deeper insights into how to optimize their influencer investments and create stronger alignment with their business goals.
Music Audience Exchange – Maria A. di Fonzo, Director, Social Media Programs
As recently as 2016, the average following of Instagram creators used in campaigns was around one million; today, that number has dramatically decreased. This trend is due in large part to a shift in KPIs among brands from campaign reach to measurable trust. With brands looking to work with smaller influencers with high engagement rates and a deeper connection with their audiences, the influencer marketing industry should expect the follower count metric to disappear. Social media users with as few as a hundred followers (nano influencers, who are similar but even smaller in size than micro-influencers) will be more and more leveraged for social campaigns. The key will remain to choose the right influencers to help brands engage with existing and potential audiences in a relevant and authentic way.
Cure Media – Sam Foroozesh, CEO, Co-founder
Companies that master the art of influencer marketing have primarily one thing in common; long-term thinking and continuity. These companies have the courage to invest much of their total marketing budget on influencers and are today among the fastest growing consumer companies in the world. Understanding the value of, and knowing how to integrate, influencer marketing in the media mix will be crucial in 2019, and more companies will need to embrace a more strategic approach to succeed.
I also believe that total reach will be replaced by actual reach – this is critical for success. We need to stop focusing too narrowly on the number of followers, not least because of fake followers, bought engagement and algorithms that distort reality. Providing the right type of information to our customers will be a critical task for agencies and influencer marketing platforms in 2019.
The market for influencer marketing will continue to grow rapidly. More and more of the largest, and historically more traditional, advertisers have now started to see influencers as a main channel in their media mix. A rough estimate is that the industry will grow by about 30-50% depending on the market, primarily in the business to consumer market, but also in the business to business segment.
Finally, I believe that in 2019, smarter target group selection using AI will be more important than ever. If a certain influencer performs well, you can, by means of AI, find lookalike audiences. Even virtual influencers are on the rise, and only time will tell if this phenomena will play a significant role in the influencer marketing arena in the future.
So this is how the aggregated picture of the Influencer Marketing future for this 2019 looks like, if you ask people who’re doing Influencer Marketing for living professionally. The overarching theme is that influencers will be treated by brands as media space holders rather than just content creators. As successful influencers are at the moment, many of them realize how much they depend on Social Media giants like YouTube, Instagram and others. The moment these companies change the rules of engagement with influencers, chances are it may disrupt influencers revenue. This is the point where Influencer Marketing agencies can help them out to smooth out these rough corners.
As the number of smartphone owners continue to grow and social media continue to be a dominant reason for these people to spend time on their shiny mobile devices, Influencer Marketing will continue to grow rapidly but not without bumps on the road.