If I was pushed to give the hottest marketing trend of the year, I’d have to plump for influencer marketing. You couldn’t move for talk about the tactic at Social Media Week Bristol back in November. Most marketers seemed to agree that it will dominate the marketing landscape even more so in 2017.
It’s seen as the way to get content in front of eyes in these times of ever-increasing quantity levels. In the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2017 report, some 70% of respondents said they expect their firm to produce more original content next year.
However, there’s only so much content business professionals and consumers alike can physically consume. That’s where influencer marketing comes in, harnessing the power of individuals to get your brand in front of your target audience.
You only need to search for an influencer marketing hashtag (#spon or #ad) to see that the strategy works. Just look at the metrics on this post:
So what EXACTLY does 2017 hold for influencer marketing? It’s difficult to say – other than to suggest it will grow even stronger – but Social Media Today has had a stab at some predictions on how it will develop:
1. Instagrammers and YouTubers to be in high demand
Getting celebrities to endorse your brand tends to be a fairly expensive strategy – they’re no good for B2B businesses either. Plus, it might not even be that effective, as people can see straight through the celebrity’s supposed recommendation.
With Instagrammers and YouTubers it’s all a good deal more authentic. A recent study by Google found that Millennials see YouTube stars to be more influential than celebrities.
It’s fair to suggest, then, that Instagrammers and YouTubers will be in high demand in 2017, as businesses go in search of higher engagement, which will lead to more collaborations between brands and influencers.
2. Regulation will find its feet
A study by influencer agency Takumi, back in April, suggested that as many as six in 10 marketing and PR professionals flout the UK’s official code for influencer marketing. This led to a warning from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the body which enforces the rules, that it takes a “dim view of marketers who admit to ignoring the ad rules” and that brands risk enduring some negative publicity resulting from having their ad banned.
The crux of the rules are that you’ve got to ensure ads are clearly identifiable as such. Yet, for whatever reason, influencers have been guilty of not including the label of #ad or #spon on their posts to signify that they’re ads.
Here’s a prime example:
However, it’s not just the influencer that needs to remember to tag their posts; it’s everyone’s responsibility – the talent, their manager, the agency and the brand – to enforce it. In 2017, the penny will drop for brands, who will work closer with influencers to ensure the rules are adhered to. At least, we hope!
3. Price of influencers to be standardised
Influencer marketing is predicted to become a more serious business in 2017. That means less of the ‘bartering’ – posts in exchange for products etc. – that has dominated negotiations between brands and influencers this year.
“In order for the industry to grow and mature, marketers need to evolve past bartering and get comfortable paying a standardised rate for the value influencers provide,” writes Social Media Today contributor Kirsty Sharman.
She’s right, you know. Marketers need to know how much it is going to cost them for X number of posts from an influencer in order to budget for them. The only way they can budget with any certainty is if they insist on standardised rates. Otherwise, you will end up with a very haphazard influencer strategy indeed.
4. Onus on quality over quantity
Sharman alludes to brands starting to favour quality over quantity by pointing out that they are going in search of the platforms that help overcome challenges, rather than just offer an infinite number of influencers to choose from.
It’s a wise move, as studies show that as an influencer’s follower total rises, the rate of engagement (likes and comments) with followers decreases, highlighting how crucial it is to team up with the RIGHT influencer.
Makerly’s research, which involved analysing more than 800,000 Instagram users, found that those with less than 1,000 followers generally received likes on their posts 8% of the time. Users with 10 million+ followers, however, only received likes 1.6% of the time.
Meanwhile, users with less than 1,000 followers generate comments about 0.5% of the time, compared to 0.04% for those with 10M+ followers.
This led the influencer marketing experts to conclude: “We believe influencers in the 10k-100k follower range offer the best combination of engagement and broad reach, with like and comment rates that exceed influencers with higher followers.”
That’s a nice bit of advice to end on and should act as the basis for your 2017 influencer marketing strategy. Yep, that’s right, influencer marketing is now developed enough to require a documented strategy. In fact, in 2017, some brands are going to be dedicating their entire strategy to influencer marketing, we reckon. Just you watch…