Influencer marketing is a hybrid of old and new marketing tools. It takes the idea of the celebrity endorsement and reconfigures it to fit with today’s social media–driven world.
Unlike celebrities, influencers can come from any background or industry, and they can have varying amounts of followers. One thing they all have in common is that they are social media figures who have gathered a defined audience around themselves. Their ability to influence others allows them to give a human voice to brands. Influencer marketing is less direct than traditional forms of marketing, but when done well, it creates an authentic way of connecting with customers. So, before you set out to build your next influencer campaign, here are some trends you need to keep your eye on.
- Increasing emphasis on influencer marketing.
More brands are using influencer marketing than ever before and this trend is sure to continue in 2019 and beyond. The reality is that old-school, traditional marketing centered on TV and radio is not as effective as it used to be. So brands are focusing their efforts on the places where their audiences are spending their time; online, and often on social media.
Influencer marketing is incredibly effective because we inherently trust the people we follow on social networks. After all, we would not be following them if we did not like them! So when an influencer sincerely advocates for a service or product, their audience listens.
- Micro-influencers are making an impact.
As it turns out, bigger is not always better when it comes to influencers. Brands are homing in on the power of micro-influencers, or influencers who generally have fewer than 10,000 followers on social media. Micro-influencers are seen as more like “normal” people.
They engage and interact with their followers more frequently, and are viewed as more relatable and authentic. Meanwhile, “mega influencers” and celebrities may have hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers, but they are not always as interactive with their audiences and can seem less approachable.
Micro-influencers tend to be knowledgeable about their niche, and their followers are more likely to trust their recommendations. They are also more affordable than enlisting a celebrity as an influencer or brand ambassador.
- Focus on storytelling.
At its core, influencer marketing is about storytelling. The best campaigns are crafted when a brand partners with an influencer to create unique content that really engages the audience. Storytelling connects with customers and makes them more likely to make a purchase.
For the content to really resonate with a target audience, the influencer needs to capture their followers’ attention in a compelling way. A simple photo featuring a product in the background will no longer draw audience attention to the brand or elicit consumer sales. Video content is a natural fit to help a story come alive and resonate with customers.
- Video content and live streaming are growing on social media.
We are short on time and attention, but we love to be entertained. This is why video marketing is growing across all platforms, and currently represents more than three quarters of all internet traffic.
Videos feel more authentic and are fun to watch, which is why influencers will continue to experiment with video-marketing trends. Influencers are tapping into the engaging nature of video content, which can be more effective in driving sales than text-based content.
Brands are also sponsoring influencers’ live feeds on social platforms, including Instagram and Facebook. Live-streamed influencer collaborations can include real-time product unboxing, Q&As, activity and destination promotions, and behind-the-scenes footage at events, there are countless possibilities. The key is to keep it authentic and engaging, and include creative brand mentions throughout the broadcast.
- Transparency in advertising.
Transparent advertising also levels the playing field, so influencers and brands are all playing by the same rules. So make sure you disclose every paid piece of content. Even if the content seems like an obvious ad, you need to disclose the partnership in each paid post. One option is to use hashtags such as #ad, #sponsored or #paidpost to make it clear that a post has been sponsored.
- Expand your pool.
Because most micro-influencers have a relatively small audience, brands need to find ways to multiply their influencer impact. To do this, they often look to expand the pool of influencers they use.
To put it simply, you do not want to put all your eggs in one influencer basket. Using multiple influencers increases product mentions and audience engagement with the brand. And using different influencers will allow you to reach different audiences, as well as tap into different influencers’ unique ways of framing a product.
The more influencers a brand uses, the more complicated a campaign can become. The key is to incorporate influencers as part of the marketing team. Get them on board and excited about a project, and set clear expectations, but give them room to work their creativity and engage with their followers.