Four Ways Influencer Marketing Will Evolve In 2018

 

The influencer marketing industry was estimated to be worth $2B in 2017. This number is expected to hit $10B by 2020. Whether you’re in food or fashion, B2B or retail, influencer marketing continues to be a growing focus for brand managers and marketers. Activate by Bloglovin’s research found that 67% of marketers think influencer marketing campaigns have helped them reach and engage with their target audiences.

Brands can’t ignore the results of this increased reach, which is why 55% of marketers report that they plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2018.

As budgets and spend increase so too does the marketing world’s expectations on ROI, transparency, and measurability in the influencer industry. Influencer marketing as it stands now will need to evolve to meet these new expectations. Here’s how we see that evolution playing out...

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Less One-Shot Deals, More Long-Term Partnerships

It can take hours (even days) to find that perfect influencer in an ideal niche. Then comes the negotiations, the contracts, the campaign ideas. Make no mistakes, starting an influencer campaign takes time.

With all that time invested, it’s almost a waste when that perfect influencer is only used to send out a single announcement, product review, or Instagram glamor shot. Brands are starting to wise up to this discovery-to-action differential as well, which is why in 2018 we’ll see brands start to leverage influencers for longer engagements.

These “always-on” relationships are similar to the “spokesperson” model of the past, only instead of just being a pretty face behind the product, today’s long-term influencers will dialogue with both brands and audiences. They’ll be able to share the latest product announcements with their following while at the same time communicating to the brand any new trend or piece of feedback they’re hearing from their audience.

 

Influencers Won’t Be Synonymous with Big Audiences

When people think of an influencer, they tend to think of those celebrities or Insta-celebrities that have amassed a following of 100K+ people. In 2018, brands are going to be more committed to the understanding that leveraging micro-influencers and everyday brand advocates in your influencer marketing strategy can provide stronger results than blowing your entire budget on a single celebrity.

For the sake of definition, a micro-influencer is an influencer who has amassed an audience of between 10,000 - 90,000. An everyday brand advocate is a “regular” consumer - just a loyal customer who likes your brand enough to talk about it online with their family, friends, and followers. They typically have an audience of between 400 - 600. (You can read more about the differences between these influencer types here.)

Small audience doesn’t mean small impact either. Micro-influencers’ engagement rates on social posts are higher than that of most larger influencers. A smaller audience gives the influencer more time to develop a personal touch with their loyal fans, which leads to a stronger connection between the audience and the micro-influencer.

In the same vein, your everyday advocates have more say on potential buyers than you might realize. A recommendation from a consumer’s friend or family ifs 50x more likely to trigger a purchase. Even more important, because it’s being posted from a personal account, a recommendation an advocate publishes to their social media profile is going to be seen by a greater percentage of their audience because personal posts aren’t reach-throttled at the same level as posts from business accounts.

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Mixed-Media Influencers

While blog posts and websites will continue to be a staple of influencer marketing, 2018 is going to belong to the influencers who produce images, podcasts, and videos for their audiences.

Each day, the average American spends a whopping 10 hours and 39 minutes consuming media on their various devices, including about 5 hours on mobile. Video alone will make up 82 percent of all internet traffic in 2021 according to Cisco. Your consumers and potential customers aren’t reading as many blogs as they were in 2014. Instead, they’re using the internet to watch fun videos, check out new podcasts, or look for inspiration by thumbing through Instagram. If your influencer marketing strategy is based solely on blog posts and Ebooks, you’re going to be missing out on a large chunk of potential engagers.

Pro Tip: If your influencer is creating the content, that’s one less piece of media that has to be pushed out by your production team. Save time and money by working with influencers that know how to produce their own media content.

 

B2B Influencer Marketing Will Become A Stronger Sales Driver

B2B influencer marketing isn’t a new concept. Ninety-one percent of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making their buying decision, and in 2018, we’re going to see the use of influencers in the B2B space continue to grow.

In 2018, B2B brands are going to stop focusing on leveraging influencers for a one-time sales blast. No more, “Hey, can you shoot out on this promo code to your 25,000 person email list?” Instead B2B brands are going to focus on fostering a deeper connection with a select number of hand-picked influencers.

B2B companies are going to focus on turning influencers into evangelists, experts that understand their B2B brand partner inside and out and can speak with authority and authenticity on their service offering.

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As digital advertising costs rise, brands will continue to grow their reliance on influencers in order to ensure their marketing messages are reaching their target demographic. The increased reliance on influencers will have a direct impact on how this industry will evolve in 2018.

Are you ready to take your influencer marketing and advocacy marketing efforts to the next level? Schedule a free demo today to see how the SocialToaster platform can help increase your 2018 sales through advocacy marketing!