Will influencer marketing survive 2019?
Influencer marketing – it’s an industry that has has exploded with the dramatic rise of social media.
In 2016 total brand spend on influencer marketing was $81 billion and it’s expected to reach $101 billion by 2020, according to an April 2017 study from ANA and PQ Media. But after a remarkable rise this magic new medium for engaging younger generation has started to reveal some holes.
The need to maintain a positive reputation in the light of some embarrassments and increasingly strict regulation could pose some challenges for the year ahead. So where does influencer marketing stand for 2019?
What exactly is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing as a concept is far from a new thing. Indeed the practice of celebrity endorsements has been used to great effect since long before the dawn of television advertising.
In today’s marketing environment influencer marketing refers to the practice of partnering with individuals who have a large social media following. These people are said to have ‘influence’ over a number of people and are therefore well placed to popularise brands and services.
Partnering with influencers allows companies to access a community on social media through a trusted voice who that audience sees as authoritative and interesting. This allows brands to bypass traditional marketing channels which are increasingly viewed as untrustworthy.
So who can be an influencer? One big misconception is that successful influencers need to be big hitters in terms of follower numbers – essentially the celebrities of the social media world. In fact influencers should be seen in much broader terms – they are people who have the power to influence others. While this definition may apply to the Kim Kardashians and Zoellas, it also includes micro-influencers who may not be commonly known but are very powerful within their own tight-knit communities.
Why is influencer marketing so attractive?
Harnessing social media can be a very fruitful strategy. 60% of respondents have taken blog or social media posts into consideration while shopping according to a recent study by Collective Bias. Furthermore a study executed by TapInfluence and Nielson Catalina Solutions showed that influencer marketing generates 11x more ROI than traditional marketing methods.
So why is this the case?
- Expand your reach: Influencers give your business intimate access to wide and ready-formed communities that traditional advertising may not reach. For example fitness influencers, beauty influencers or even gardening influencers (yes they exist) hold sway over an enthusiastic group who are ready and listening. It is difficult to acquire this sort of interest from other channels.
- Harness user generated content: Influencers are fantastic at generating content that consumers value – that’s why they are so popular. This means that you get to reap the benefits of expertly generated content and even distribute it on your own channels.
- Improve your SEO: Most influencers have high domain authority so linkbacks from their websites can be a great boost to your own SEO strategy. With any luck it will also send more traffic to your own site.
What are the challenges to influencer marketing in 2019?
Despite influencer marketing’s exponential growth and wide-ranging success in the age of social media, as the industry has matured some challenges have appeared.
- Fake followers: The market for creating virtual followers out of thin air is booming. Research by Points North Group into P&G’s influencer marketing found that 32% of Pampers’ and 19% of Olay’s paid influencer followers were fakes.
- Influencers not aligning with your brand: Celeb endorsements have always brought the risk of rogue behaviour or a public scandal reflecting badly on the brands associated with them. Influencer marketing is no different. The need to post regular and interesting content can sometimes lead to embarrassment for everyone. YouTube stars Logan Paul and PewDiePie were both dropped by contractors as a result of tasteless and offensive videos.
- Regulation requirements: As the influencer market grows it is likely that there will be an increasing number of regulations to contend with. The Federal Communications Commision now requires paid influencers to disclose any advertorial relationship with the brand they are promoting.
- Increasing audience distrust: Influencers are currently so valuable because they are trusted by the audience. Increased audience awareness of the practice of influencer marketing and required declarations of paid deals may create a similar movement as is currently being seen in TV adverts and older channels – namely, increased distrust.
In reality, despite some emerging challenges, influencer marketing is an industry that is likely to go from strength to strength in 2019. Not only is it an inventive way to deal with the rise of social media it also engages younger generations who are increasingly moving towards phones over traditional screen advertising.