What does the future of influencer marketing look like? The influencer industry is booming and predicted to be worth $10 billion by 2020. By 2022, brands are expected to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing.
Collaborating with social media influencers has become a major Marketing Strategy component for many brands. However, as the industry is undergoing constant changes, marketers must continuously evolve and amend their strategies. This brings up the question, what the future of influencer marketing will look like? Following are 6 social media trends that are likely going to reshape the way influencer marketing works today.
#1 Constant platform changes
Whether it comes to Instagram, Pinterest or TikTok, changes & updates occur on a monthly basis. An example is Instagram, who is currently testing “hiding like counts”. Brands often use an influencer’s engagement rate (likes and comments combined per post, divided by followers) as a first selection criteria when screening them for a potential collaboration. Upon like count removal, they will need to look for other options. This could mean, that brands will need to work with social media agencies. Those usually still have access to Instagram’s API and information such as like counts & quality of followers.
Meanwhile, Instagram recently announced to accelerate the depreciation of their API platform to improve user privacy and security. Therefore, no one knows how long and which type of data will still be publicly accessible in the coming years. This means that brands need to be prepared for constant changes.
#2 Focus on micro influencers
A major challenge companies face when working with social media influencers is fake followers and engagement. Many influencers buy fake followers, thus their engagement rate is low. Often, micro influencers (people with a following of less than 10k) have much higher engagement rates. Also, micro influencers are way more affordable. Brands like Coca Cola or Daniel Wellington have previously partnered with micro influencers and achieved great success in increasing brand awareness & exposure.
#3 “Company internal” influencer programs
Brands start to realize that working with social media influencers can be quite challenging. Approaching them, negotiating a reasonable pricing, evaluating the quality of their followers & briefing them accordingly takes a lot of time, budget and resources. Therefore, next to working with external influencers, some brands start creating “company internal” influencer programs. They turn their own employees to brand ambassadors and influencers. This allows them to work more closely with their teams and to better control content distribution. A great example is the company Macy’s, who currently has one of the biggest in-house ambassador programs for their employees. Also, companies such as Bosch started using LinkedIn as a content sharing platform for their employees. While this concept is still in its early stages, company internal influencer programs will drastically increase in the coming years.
#4 Changing policies & guidelines
In the past, influencer marketing got a bad reputation for being unfair and immoral. Many brands took advantage of the new influencer trend in trying to get unpaid partnerships to increase their brand exposure. Also, consumers weren’t able to distinguish between sponsored and non-sponsored posts. To stop unfair practices, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) started implementing new laws & guidelines to protect consumers. The guidelines make it mandatory for social media influencers to highlight sponsored posts with hashtags like #paid or #ad. Also, social media influencers increasingly start to ask for a remuneration when advertising for brands. While the process of regulating the influencer industry has already begun, the future is likely to bring even stricter guidelines and regulations.
#5 Promotion of CGI influencers
The latest trend in the social media industry are CGI (computer generated image) influencers. One of them is the influencer LilMiquela. She has 1.2m followers. The company Brud created her as a social experiment. Her social media success has transcended the app. She has been featured in magazines, worked with known brands such as Nike, Prada and Calvin Klein, released hit songs & interviewed celebrities. This brings up the question, why CGI influencers are interesting for brands. One reason is that brands are able to entirely control how, when and where their content is shared. This can be challenging when working with human influencers. CGI influencers are likely going to be used more and more by brands, not only for social media advertising purposes, but for games and apps as well.
#6 AI in the influencer industry
Artificial Intelligence is another area that is going to further evolve in the influencer industry. TikTok recently announced that they are working on a new feature. Users on the platform will be able to press a “search” button, drag a rectangle around a target area, and instantly perform a visual search for the area’s content. This mean that, by selecting a shirt someone is wearing, the app will try to locate the exact same shirt on an e-commerce site. The feature is currently still in the testing phase, but might be globally available soon. Developments such as the ones on TikTok show that we are still in the early stages of how social media platforms and e-commerce might work in the future.
Final thoughts on the future of influencer marketing
The Future of influencer marketing & the influencer industry looks promising and full of new developments. For companies, this means that constant changes and ongoing training, to stay ahead of competition, will need to be integrated in their marketing strategy.
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