There is buzz around the word “influencer” unlike ever before. Companies are increasingly allocating more and more of their advertising budgets to collaboration with influencers.
And why not?
Influencer marketing consistently has a high ROI, helps increase brand visibility, engagement, and establishes credibility, while compensating influencers and allowing them to experience new products. Overall, a pretty mutually beneficial arrangement.
Here are some key trends and possible downsides of influencer marketing to watch out for in 2019:
Shift from Macro to Micro
Companies are increasingly realizing and capitalizing on the power of micro, and even nano-influencers. Micro-influencers typically have a following of 50,000 followers or less while nano-influencers have a following of 1,000 or less. In these cases, quality precedes quantity. Building the right connections with the right people is key, and someone who is a genuine brand advocate comes across as more credible than an influencer who gets compensated based on just reach for a one-time post. Micro-influencers, especially niche ones, are generally regarded as more trustworthy and can lead to long-term relationships – while costing about one tenth as much as macro-influencers to work with. Thus, engagement > reach.
Content creation has reached new high, which also means that one-off campaigns are no longer a choice. To have a high impact, marketers need to work with multiple influencers with a diverse following for an extended period of time. Solely relying on influencers with a large following will help you reach a wide audience; however, it will not necessarily engage people with your brand. So a mix of reliable brand advocates and high growth influencers can be necessary components for an effective social media strategy.
Fake followers can negatively impact a company’s advertising budget as many so-called influencers buy robot followers to boost their own image. Accounts like this typically have a high following but low engagement, or receive spam comments. In 2018, $744 million were spent on influencer marketing, and $102 million are said to have been wasted on fake followers, as reported by Points North Group. Companies that have been hit especially hard by this phenomenon are Raw Sugar Living, Clarins skin care, Zappos, and even Ritz-Carlton.
Instagram stories are more popular than ever with over 400 million people tuning in daily. They provide a great platform for brands and followers to communicate and foster engagement with features such as polls, Q&A’s, and embedded links. Stories can be highly stylized to attract followers. The newly added highlights feature further help brands create a visually appealing and interesting profile that can draw in new customers and build brand image and profile.
Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics will help predict results not only in the form of reach, but also sales, as well as have the ability to locate the right influencers that will deliver optimal performance for a brand’s target audience and campaign objectives. AI can additionally be used to measure engagement and help curb the fake follower problem, resulting in higher transparency and efficacy. Not only that, marketers will be able to attain even more granular insights such as follower growth and engagement by using deep-learning algorithms. By taking into account all these factors, marketers will be able to better allocate advertising spend and optimize performance.