“Influencers care about their content and their readers, or they wouldn’t be influential. If brands want to succeed with influencers, they have to first develop a relationship that is valuable for both sides.”
– Jennifer Beaupre, vice-president of marketing at Oildex
Influencer marketing has been gaining traction over the last several years and has become a force to be reckoned with in the advertising arena. And that momentum will only build in 2017 as depicted by virtually every “top trends for 2017” list.
A recent study uncovered that a whopping 84 percent of marketers intend to launch an influencer campaign this year.
As larger percentages of ad budgets move away from traditional advertising modalities and into the digital arena, and with the use of ad blocking technology increasing every year, influencers are the key to getting a brand’s message to audiences in an effective way.
A recent Google study revealed that 70 percent of teenage YouTube users relate more to the channel’s creators than celebrities and 40 percent of millennial subscribers believe their favorite influencers are more in-tune with them than their own friends are. That’s powerful stuff.
This phenomenon is not quarantined to just YouTube, which means that brands need to start heavily investing in influencers to make their voices heard.
For those who are new and not-so-new to influencer marketing, here’s how the landscape is set to shift in 2017.
It’s Not Who You Are, It’s What You Create
Among marketing agencies that practice this discipline, micro influencers are already gaining lots of attention. In 2017, however, these folks will take the main stage.
Since its inception, influencer marketing has grown thanks to the efforts of large “celebrity” influencers; massive names like Unbox Therapy and Jenna Marbles.
While folks like these are the ones who helped define an era in marketing, they are becoming less effective (and much more expensive) for brands to recruit.
Why? Because: Math.
If a brand hires an influencer with 10 million followers, maybe only 500,000 of those individuals will actually be interested in that company’s offering. Many of these folks are followed simply because of who they are, and less because of the content they generate.
Micro influencers, on the other hand, have significantly smaller yet much more targeted and engaged followings. Because of their more limited size, these folks are able to have increasingly intimate relationships with their audience and, therefore, produce higher levels of engagement and much more profound results for brands.
Chris Gonzalez, CEO of the micro influencer platform Gnack, has witnessed this effect firsthand:
“We see micro-influencers get an average of two-to-five times more organic engagement per Instagram post, compared to those with more than 100,000 followers. . .”
If you’re getting into influencer marketing in 2017, this should be your area of focus.
A Platform War over Influencers
Vine’s demise left many of its users and influential figures deeply saddened.
Melancholy aside, the fall of the video platform is having some unintended consequences within the influencer community.
As Digiday reports, Vine’s stars are left with no option but to jump ship to other social platforms, with Instagram and Snapchat leading the way.
This dispersing of Vine’s social celebrities will lead to an all-out war between the two platforms.
Snapchat was a rising star in 2016 reaching upward of 150 million active users and is currently drawing in many of Vine’s former influencers. While Instagram’s user base crushes that of Snapchat’s, many don’t get the same sense of “rawness” or intimacy on the platform when compared to Snap.
But Instagram is fighting to acquire new talent — its parent company, Facebook, has made various moves to mimic the features that Snapchat originated. This, combined with its live video elements and higher engagement rates, means that Snapchat is a big underdog in the battle.
Influencer Platforms Begin to Crumble
Alongside the rise of influencer marketing came a surge of influencer platforms that housed thousands of social superstars and linearized identification.
These platforms brought something new to the table because they allowed marketers to search a database of influencers and negotiate rates and terms directly through the tool.
Since their breakout into the mainstream, the market has become flooded with such services. The fact that most of these platforms view influencers as products to be bought and sold, and the fact that that they mostly only solve the identification hurdle means that many will fall to the wayside in 2017 as more advantageous tools are formed.
The influencer platforms that will survive this period are those that will continue to innovate. Marketers don’t just need help finding influencers, they need to pinpoint the ideal influencer for a campaign. More than that, many brands need assistance with managing campaigns and budgets, creating contracts, the means to nurture long-term relationships, and all of the other facets of influencer marketing.
My bet is that one of the first (if not the first) to begin establishing these components will be the Google-owned Famebit.
Not only does the company have virtually unlimited resources at its disposal, but Google also has a long history of innovation and constant product-improvement. It would come as no surprise if this platform would be the first to address the many other pain points advertisers face with influencer marketing, effectively killing off less robust platforms and creating an all-in-one.
Influencer marketing is a practice that is constantly in flux; 2017 is no exception. While these trends are most likely the ones to take center stage at some point this year, there will undoubtedly be many other progressions and emergences that help to shape the industry’s future for many years to come.
Have you tried your hand in influencer marketing? What other influencer-focused shifts do you expect to see as the year progresses?