5 Ways Influencer Marketing Won’t Change In 2018

 

Earlier this week we shared what we believe to be the top 4 ways the influencer marketing industry will evolve in 2018. Today, we’re going to focus on the parts of this growing industry - expected to be worth $10B by 2020 - that will stay consistent moving from 2017 to 2018, regardless of whatever crazy tools, dashboards, VR/AR devices, and compensation models get launched in the market place.

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Authenticity Will Still Be Sacred To Influencers

An influencer’s authenticity, whether genuine or perceived, is the most valuable currency an influencer can have.

Authenticity is how an influencer attracts their legion of fans and followers.

Authenticity is what separates one beer-stagrammer from the next.

Authenticity is what makes someone stop what they’re doing to say, “You know what? I like the cut of this influencer’s jib. His tone, personality, and message resonate with me. I think we could be best friends in real life. I’m going to follow them!”

That thought process isn’t going to change in 2018. In fact, as more influencers enter the market, authenticity will become even more critical to an influencer’s success.

When an influencer loses their authenticity, either from appearing to be bought or by losing touch with their core fan base, their audience will start to erode, engagement rates will drop, and people will switch allegiance to a different influencer in the same space.

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Audiences Will Almost Always Trust Influencers Over Brands

The word-of-mouth recommendation is the most trusted form of marketing. A whopping 92% of individuals say that they would trust a brand or product recommendation from a friend, family member, or other trusted source. In the same survey, 76% of individuals say that they’re more likely to trust a message shared by a “normal” person than a message shared by a brand or organization.

To the average consumer, influencers are “normal” people. As long as the influencer is trusted by their audience, a recommendation from an influencer will carry more weight than if that same message was shared by a brand. Authenticity is a key component for fostering trust, which is what makes it so valuable to influencers. The more consumers believe in an influencer, the more they buy into what the influencer is selling. Having a large reach is great, but if an audience doesn’t believe in an influencer’s recommendations, any shared brand message is going to fall on deaf ears.

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Brands Will Utilize A Mix Of Influencer Types

Through all this, keep in mind your influencer marketing strategy doesn’t have to (nor should it) rely on celebrities or pseudo-celebrities with million-follower audiences to drive results and ROI. 2017 saw the rise and adoption of micro-influencers and the continued reliance on brand advocates to share marketing messages. This mix of different types of influencers will continue to be a part of 2018 influencer strategy.

While micro-influencers and advocates may not have the staggering high audience numbers of a Kardashian, they have their own network of friends, family, and followers that trust their recommendations and view their messages as authentic. They are also less expensive than their celebrity cousins.

By forming an official advocacy marketing campaign (say, through SocialToaster), your brand can leverage its own personal army of advocates and micro-influencers, who share branded content to their personal feeds. Instead of negotiating for a single one-time post with a celebrity, you can recruit advocates and micro-influencers that are encouraged to share multiple posts throughout the year.

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FTC Regulations Are Here To Stay

93% of influencers in 2017 were found to be non-compliant with FTC regulations. This gap in compliance resulted in huge fines and lawsuits (or worse) for both influencers AND brands involved. These rules and regulations aren’t going to magically disappear in 2018 - if anything, they may be tightened and enforced more often. Influencers will need to continue to be on top of how they communicate when a post or recommendation is brand-driven or sponsored.

Facebook put a new requirement in place that requires all influencers to label sponsored content on both Facebook and Instagram. Even if the influencer isn’t paying to show the content as an ad, the influencer needs to disclose if they received any compensation for the message, including freebies, discounts, trade, or VIP perks.

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Want to learn more? Check out our blog post for more information on what the FTC expects from influencer posts.

 

Paid Ad ROI Will Continue to Diminish

Across the board, digital advertising costs are increasing, rising 5x faster than inflation. Facebook advertising costs alone increased 136% (CPC) to 171% (CPM) in 2017. Couple that with the increased use of ad blockers among consumers, and you start to see that, in many ways, paid digital is losing its effectiveness to reach consumers at an appropriate cost.

This dip in paid performance is what is helping to drive many brands to influencer marketing. 67% of marketers surveyed last year thought that influencer marketing campaigns had helped them reach a more targeted audience. This increase is also what may compel marketing managers to dedicate more budget to influencer marketing in 2018.

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Bottom line, influencer marketing is going to evolve in 2018, make no mistakes about it. However, the foundation that influencer marketing is built on - authenticity, trust, connection - those elements aren’t going away. Brands need to understand both this connection and how to leverage it to succeed in influencer marketing in 2018.

Want to learn more about starting an advocacy marketing campaign in 2018? Sign up today for a free demo and learn how SocialToaster can help you reach your growth goals.