When it comes to marketing, there are two things that determine the efficiency of the method in use – reach and credibility. The latter is probably the strongest trait of the influencer marketing since recent studies have demonstrated that about 70 percent of younger audiences trust influencers more than any other source of information.
This is hardly surprising due to the nature of content on platforms such as YouTube, where influencers are coming out with new stuff day in and day out and in this way create a relationship based on familiarity with their subscribers.
Another reason why influencers are so trusted is that every time they endorse a product on their channel or via their content, they are virtually vouching for it with their own reputation. This idea that they have something to lose if the product fails to deliver acts as the guarantee that online audiences need.
Finally, influencer marketing is seldom perceived as paid marketing, at least not as openly as TV commercials and similar techniques. With this in mind and without further ado, here are a few trends that might just shape influencer marketing in 2018.
1. A blurred line between an influencer and a celebrity
One of the most interesting things about influencer marketing is how quickly the line between an influencer and a celebrity is getting blurred out.
A teenager these days may follow a celebrity on Twitter or Instagram without knowing their full portfolio, as well as without any previous knowledge of whether they were a big deal in the pre-social media world or not.
In other words, the world of social networks often functions independently of the real-world, seeing as how you are served the image of the online persona that they want you to see. It is more than clear that this trend will carry on in 2018, as well.
2. Micro influencers are a huge deal
Perhaps the simplest division of influencer types is based on the number of followers they have. For instance, a person with 10,000 to 90,000 followers is a micro influencer, while a person followed by hundreds of thousands and millions is a macro influencer.
However, is the endorsement by a macro influencer always better than endorsement by a micro-influencer? Well, it all depends on the context.
One of the things that everyone could have noticed in the past is just how big of a flop it is when a celebrity wants to tackle a huge issue they know absolutely nothing about. While some people are captivated by a near-divine status that these people have in our society, there are those who can see through their lack of expertise and automatically dismiss any opinion coming from them as irrelevant.
On the other hand, a person who is a figure of authority in a certain niche speaks with a voice that resounds strongly among all of their followers.
Think about it: would a person rather purchase a smartphone recommended by their favorite actor or the one suggested by a YouTuber running a tech channel they have been following for years now?
In other words, finding the right influencer to endorse you goes much deeper than simply finding a person with the greatest reach. This is where you can see the full extent of the credibility factor we mentioned in the introduction.
3. Influencer marketing and SEO
Furthermore, according to numerous renowned white hat SEO experts, influencers can be used to induce an organic rating boost to your website. Apart from boosting your overall visibility, influencers can also encourage a much greater engagement by your audience in more than a few ways.
Look at it this way – an item that is properly introduced is bound to attract those interested in either buying it or learning more about it, which means that you can expect the minimal bounce-rate on your landing page.
Moreover, influencer marketing can also be used to help you build inbound links through different content formats. Needless to say, this can easily help your content, your ideas or your messages avoid getting labeled as sponsored, without changing their nature.
4. Paycheck or influence
The next thing you need to keep in mind is that an influencer isn’t necessarily there for the money alone. In the past, some influencers have mostly focused on the hefty paycheck offered by the companies they were supposed to advertise for.
Still, in 2018, not many of them would be willing to endorse a product that could tarnish their reputation. In other words, most successful influencers will value their influence over one-time monetary incentives and won’t be willing to compromise it. Therefore, companies negotiating with them will need to adapt their approach, as well.
Recently, the Kardashian family, which represents one of the most widely known influencer groups online faced a complaint threat for concealing the paid product placement in their social media posts.
In order to remedy this situation, they have recently started adding hashtag #ad next to all of their product promotions. While some may argue that they came under the looking glass of the Federal Trade Commission solely due to the size of their personal brand, this effect might snowball in the nearest future.
What this means is that next year, the spotlight might turn to some smaller influencers, as well, forcing them to become more transparent about their brand contracts. In other words, the division between brand ambassadors and influencers might become even greater.
6. Influencers and PR
One of the things that you have to keep in mind is the importance of public relations in the modern world. Now, one of the easiest ways to mitigate a crisis or solve an existing problem is to place a familiar face in front of one’s audience.
As of lately, many argue that the credibility of one’s PR department is never that great, due to the fact that they are directly employed by the company whose interests they represent.
This is why, in 2018, more and more companies might try to give their PR efforts a credibility boost by employing influencers to take up their cause. An endorsement by someone who is seemingly an independent party might add to the value of your statement, whether it is damage control or a new product/service announcement.
In other words, influencers might take over more and more responsibilities from a PR department in the following year.
7. Brand ambassadors vs. influencers
While brand ambassadors may be more cost-effective than influencers, the fact remains that not everyone’s word resounds with the same strength in the digital environment. Keep in mind that influencers are highly revered in the digital community for a reason.
Still, there are more than a few ways to give a significant boost to the brand ambassador program.
In the previous section, we mentioned how your influencers might take over some of PR’s responsibilities. Because of this, the PR department might become partially repurposed. One of their new responsibilities might become the training of potential brand ambassadors in the ways of digital marketing. Not only will it level out this form of marketing, but also make media monitoring of a brand much easier.
8. You may soon not have a choice
A big part of the YouTube community currently argues that the era of small content-creators is at its end. As the main culprit, they list YouTube’s latest policies, like the one involving a massive demonetization of videos that aren’t deemed as advertiser-friendly.
Still, pointing the finger at YouTube is much easier than admitting that people simply aren’t interested in the content that these small-creators are making. Due to the growing number of creators out there, it is hard to be surprised at this phenomenon of audience oversaturation.
9. Cost efficiency
There is an interesting 2017 statistic which claims that 86 percent of most-viewed beauty products are made by influencers, compared to only 14 percent of those made by the brand itself. Keep in mind that the cost of video-production is many times lower than the one made by a company.
It gets even better. The cost of content production usually doesn’t fall on the company but on the influencers themselves. Needless to say, this gap is expected to become even more noticeable in the following year.
As you can see, the overall value of influencer marketing keeps growing year after year. While some of the above-listed statistics may differ from one demographic to another, it all seems as more of a matter of finding the right influencer, rather than changing the overall game-approach.
Still, the coming year promises to be full of surprises and it is nearly impossible to tell in which way advancements in trends like machine learning will affect the algorithm and in this way, influencer marketing, as well.
This is why, although highly effective, influencer marketing still works best as a cog in the machine of your digital marketing, rather than the sole winning ticket your company is playing on.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.