Five Influencer Marketing Trends of 2019
By now you probably know what influencer marketing is, but just in case you don’t, influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole on social media. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers and orients marketing activities around these people or pages.
MediaKix released a commonly cited report claiming that the industry could be worth between $5 billion and $10 billion by 2020. It’s big business and it’s here to stay, although quickly adapting. Here are five influencer marketing trends to anticipate during 2019.
#1 Instagram Will Dominate Influencer Marketing Spend
Instagram will be the platform that directs the most influencer marketing spend. Instagram's more than 500 million active users place it well ahead of Twitter (326 million active users) Snapchat (150 million active users), and Pinterest (250 million active users) (Source). Instagram is dominating consumer attention and with that, it’s likely to attract the ad spend as well.
Image Source: Instagram
Recently Instagram announced their latest feature, Instagram Checkout. This enables users to buy a product they see directly from the Instagram app. This feature is currently in closed beta, but it’s likely we can expect to see a broader roll-out in the near future. This can have massive implications on the influencer marketing space as brands would be able to potentially integrate checkout functionality into the pages of influencers they leverage for an activation.
Image Source: Recode
Lastly, Instagram Stories, a feature that lets users share videos and posts that are removed after 24 hours took the world by the storm quite quickly. It took only 10 months to reach 250M daily active users, and now boasts more than 500 million daily active users as of December 2018. Instagram Stories also enables swipe up links for pages that have over 10,000 followers. This is an attractive method for brands to drive call-to-actions as linking on the Instagram feed is not currently possible.
#2 Micro & Organic Influencers
Have you heard the term micro-influencer? It’s all over the place these days. So what are they? It depends on who you ask. A micro-influencer is a person who typically has a smaller following ranging between a few thousand to 50,000 followers. They typically have a specialization on a specific niche or indsutry. You can learn more about the different types of influencers here.
Why is the micro-influencer becoming so trendy? For a few reasons:
- They often specialize in a specific niche or industry making them great for hyper-targeting
- They are effective as 82% of consumers have a higher likelihood of acting upon recommendations from micro-influencers
- Their audience isn’t subjected to as many advertisements as 70% of micro-influencers work on less than five marketing campaigns in a year
A lot of data points to the idea that micro-influencers are more effective than the typical macro-influencers which maintained the spotlight as influencer marketing first started gaining more attention. Brands are learning that bigger is not always better.
Given that bigger is not always better, it leads to an interesting point about organic influencers? So what are they? It’s customers and everyday people. On average, a person has 5.54 different social media accounts. Each person averages 338 friends on Facebook, 707 Twitter followers, and 150 Instagram followers. Sure it’s not much, but activating 1000s of these people in a single campaign can have a massive impact.
Image Source: Nielsen
There is also something to be said about seeing something online from friends and family that paid influence cannot compete with. 90% of people trust reccomendations from people they know, beating out every other form of advertising by a high-margin. So while it’s not the ‘talk-of-the-town’ just yet, we expect the trend towards micro-influencers to bring organic influence to the table.
#3 Long-Term Partnerships
One-off activations were originally a typical practice when it came to leveraging influencer marketing, that is, brands would leverage an influencer just a handful of times a year, typically only once during a campaign.
We can expect the trend to move towards long-term partnerships with influencers rather than one-off events. One major benefit of this is that brands and influencers can grow together. If a brand discovers an influencer that syndicates well with their offering and metrics point to this influencer being on the up-and-up, they can partner with them long-term to garner that value from the get-go.
This also enables a brand to create a higher-presence and more trust with the same consumers when executed properly, rather than a quick hit-and-run styled activation that often comes with a one-off purchase.
Not only this, but consumers are getting smarter and less tolerant of in-your-face advertising through influencers. In 2017, the FTC introduced regulations to improve disclosures of paid relationships between influencers and brands. This helped to draw the line between an organic promotion for a product or brand that an influencer genuinely liked, versus getting paid to promote a product that they may not actually stand behind.
There are many examples of brands and influencers getting called out for “shilling” products and creating a massive breach of trust from consumers, take the recent Fyre scandal for example.
This makes it the benefit of both brands and influencers to have a focus on finding partnerships that truly syndicate and support their offering/audience and creatively integrating it into the content strategy long-term in a way that resonates value and transparency with consumers.
#4 Higher Focus on Measuring Value
Next, we expect to see a higher focus on tying better ROI metrics to each influencer activation as marketing technologies advance and influencers are being held to a higher standard.
The fact of the matter is that many influencers pull their prices out of thin air. They have no tools or insights to justify their value. Most, if not all, are choosing a price that seems right to them. They test the waters to see what brands are willing to pay, and often times brands are paying far too much.
Image Source: Influencer Marketing Hub
It is reported that the average earned media value created from each $1 spent on influencer marketing is $5.20. While I appreciate the effort being put into attempting to place a value on influencer marketing, I personally have my doubts behind statistics such as these. The reason? Measuring the ROI of influencer marketing is not as clear-cut as other media forms.
The existence of technologies that make it as cut-and-dry as dollars in dollars out is minimal right now. It’s not the easiest problem to solve. 76% of marketers said their biggest challenge is determining the ROI of their influencer marketing programs. Of course, when brands are going straight for conversion, they can leverage affiliate links and referral codes, but many times that is not the case and even that system isn’t perfect as someone may not make a purchase immediately from that influencer. This is a problem we solved and you can learn more about the metrics we leverage when analyzing ROI.
Image Source: Linqia
It’s a problem we expect more technologies and brands to put a higher focus on. This is beneficial to everyone involved. It will help provide influencers with insights to understand their true value and will ensure brands aren’t overspending on influencers that don’t lead to an ROI they were expecting.
#5 Paid to Owned
Lastly, we expect to see a higher focus on brands converting paid influence visibility into owned media acquisition. This means capturing a means to contact a consumer through channels that are owned. This could be an email, SMS, or messenger subscription.
Initially, we saw a high-focus on brands trying to convert influencer audiences into their own audiences through the form of followers on their social media accounts. I still see this as a popular tactic, but expect it to decline over time.
When Facebook presented a newsfeed algorithm change in 2018 to reduce newsfeed visibility for brands and pages, it was a wake-up call for many of us. Social media is borrowed real-estate and shouldn’t be classified as owned media. At any point, social media platforms can limit the reach and visibility of your content, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Not only this, but as the number of users of social media platforms grows, it makes newsfeed visibility far more competitive. This is why we expect brands to put a higher focus on converting paid influence visibility into owned channels as fast and cheaply as possible.
There are a number of ways to do this, one of the most popular strategies is through contests. Brands are leveraging influencers as a channel to promote their contest so they can capture a fraction of that audience into their owned media channels that enable them to reach these people for free on their own. Checkout these five contest examples.
Influencer marketing is here to stay. It’s a powerful marketing format that when leveraged correctly, can do great things for your brand. However, it is and will continue to rapidly transform. Remember to never get comfortable and keep an eye out for what’s ahead so you can be sure you are maximizing your chances of success with this transformative marketing format.