It’s a great time to be an influencer. It’s an even better time to be a savvy influencer.
Brands are investing more money than ever into influencer marketing, and more brands than ever are including it in their mix. In fact, 75% of national advertisers have partnered with influencers, with those same advertisers planning to increase their budgets by 43% in the coming year.
And for those advertisers not currently utilizing influencer marketing, 27% of those plan to do so in the next year.
Now let’s talk about the monetary possibilities for your pockets. Influencer marketing is projected to be a $10 billion industry. That’s a lotta dough!
So to recap: More brand activity. New brands looking for influencers. More money to be spent.
Are you poised to take advantage of these growing opportunities? To help you grow your brand and fill your empty swimming pool with Uncle Scrooge-like money, we’ve gathered the hottest trends in influencer marketing.
If you’re short on time, browse, take note, and get back to your latte. But if you want to grow your brand and absolutely crush it in 2019, start capitalizing on these trends and thank us later.
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Trend 1: Start Measuring KPIs and ROI Today
Now, stay with us. We know that acronyms might make you drowsy and bored, but with more and more brands engaging influencers, and more money being spent, advertisers expect to get the most bang for the buck.
TV ads are too expensive. Radio ads are hard to track. Yet digital advertising and email continue to grow because analytics are readily available for marketers. Open rates, CTRs, you-name-it. Influencers need to take note of advertisers’ reliance on analytics by offering KPIs and ROI measurement up front.
For KPIs, choose traffic, total reach, clicks, shares, profile views, new followers, or engagement (such as time spent, comments, downloads, etc). Before a campaign launches, work with the brand to choose relevant KPIs, then measure these statistics through Google Analytics, Instagram Insights, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, etc. to verify the campaign’s success.
You’ll be able to prove the success of your work to brand marketers, making it more likely they (or other marketers) will hire you for future initiatives.
Trend 2: The Rise of Micro-Influencers
You don’t need to be a Kardashian to be a successful online influencer. (Remember the $10 billion mentioned earlier? There’s PLENTY to go around!) What many brands are realizing is that although the biggest names may have tens of millions of followers, their actual influence on their community may be far less than a niche influencer with a smaller, but passionate, community.
Love cars? There are plenty of car influencers. But what about a car influencer who specializes in desert racing? There aren’t too many of those. Or what about Baja desert racing? There might be less than a handful, but thousands of enthusiasts follow every SCORE race and short track racing series.
Love traveling? Warning: there are many influencers who specialize in travel. However, could you own a particular country, region, or town? Or a certain type of traveling? You could be an expert on a certain vacation town, unknown beach town, or even a particular country (like Wales, for example) where the amount of travelers to influencers has a gap (Tourists spend $8.2 billion+ a year in Wales, so if you “owned” that space, you would have a potentially large, yet targeted, audience.). Or you could focus on adventure travel, gap year travel, or volunteer travel, etc.
Trend 3: Experiment, Then Own, Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories has more than 400 million users. You might want to read that sentence again. 400 million!
The product will be a $10 billion business by 2019 and there’s no stopping it. Facebook knows it has a cash cow and therefore continues to upgrade the creative possibilities (and tools) of Instagram Stories in particular.
These stats really mean one thing for influencers: If you’re aren’t utilizing Instagram Stories to its full potential, you may be left behind.
Here are a few updates that you could start using today. Familiarize yourself with them, noodle with them, and start becoming the Instagram Stories expert in your field:
- Voting functionality
- Linking capabilities (to blogs, to websites, to YouTube videos)
- Sharing Spotify songs with a sticker (to any photo or video)
- Adding GIFs
- Utilizing Augmented Reality (AR)
Don’t continue to do the “same ol, same ol” with Instagram Stories. Experiment, learn and improve. Some techniques may not work. No worries. If you continue to surprise your followers and evolve your brand, you’ll be rewarded.
Trend 4: Take Advantage of Augmented Reality Filters on Instagram
Poor SnapChat. We heard the AR craze for a few years, then everyone and their grandmother got a smartphone and everyone ran to SnapChat. Those days are over. Instagram has added AR filters and their implementation is growing in popularity.
If you read the Instagram Stories statistics in the previously mentioned trend, then you know the opportunity that awaits the online influencer who delivers their content with AR filters. It’s an experience that could add pizzazz to your posts.
You can create your own custom filter (like Kyle Jenner’s popular AR lipstick filter), partner with a brand to create a custom filter (like the NBA is doing), or you can try an AR filter from an account you already follow.
5. Transitioning From One-Off Campaigns to “Always-On” Strategies
Stay true to your brand. You probably heard that tip from the very first day you realized you had become an actual brand. It’s powerful because it’s true.
Influencer popularity with brand marketers has grown exponentially due to one-off, tactical campaigns. Product releases. Product trials. Brand awareness campaigns. Sponsorships. Events.
However, we’ve seen marketers lean heavily upon influencers even after a tactical campaign has run its course.
Old Navy has partnered with actress and social influencer Meghan Rienks on multiple projects, for example.
Triangl Swim has continuously been sending its swimwear to bloggers and has partnered with the “Triangl Girls” for numerous campaigns. They’ve even dedicated a section on their website to their influencers. (Complete with real names, of course.)
When influencers are a natural “fit” for a brand, they can represent the brand by being “always on” over time, rather than tied to merely one specific campaign. Which basically means, being themselves and creating consistent, valuable content. It’s a win-win.
Sure, tactical campaigns such as GAP’s Styld.by or WalMart’s #FightHunger campaigns may get substantial budget support and eyeballs, but long-term relationships are also great for influencers as well as for businesses, as long as you stay true to yourself and deliver the authentic value your followers expect. You can plan for the next calendar year together with the brand, track performance better long-term, and improve collaboration and the value delivered because you’ll be true partners. The always-on approach transforms the relationship from one that feels transactional to one that’s centered on collaboration. For these reasons, expect many brands to turn towards ongoing relationships with their influencers of choice in the future instead of merely going campaign to campaign.