Inherently a hybrid of old and new marketing tools, influencer marketing is constantly evolving, with new trends and tactics continuously emerging. With such a wide set of applications, the practice continues to find appeal among various companies and organizations.
For businesses of all sizes, staying on top of the latest trends can help them optimize their influencer marketing program and maximize their results. With 2019 well underway, here is a look at some of the top trends surfacing in the world of influencer marketing:
1. Rise of Micro-Influencers
It’s easy to picture influencer marketing as obvious collaborations between well-known celebrities and a particular product—such as an NBA player advertising for a pair of Nike shoes or a film star promoting a certain brand of whiskey. However, micro-influencers—or individuals and social media personalities with 1,000 to 10,000 followers—also provide valuable marketing opportunities, particularly through authenticity and engagement.
According to data from the “2018 Global Micro-Influencer Study,” micro-influencers have seven times the engagement rate on Instagram as influencers with larger audiences, and 99 percent say they believe in what they promote. Because micro-influencers have a high level of engagement and their opinions are highly trusted by their viewers, their use allows brands of all sizes to access the benefits of influencer marketing, despite having a smaller budget.
2. Increased Video Content
Video continues to be a dominant marketing tool in many realms. Citing a recent study, Forbes states that, by 2019, 80 percent of online content consumed will be video. According to the article, marrying “the growth of video with the effectiveness of influencer marketing, we arrive at a holy grail of sorts in terms of a powerful media combination.”
Companies can incorporate video into their influencer marketing campaign in various formats, including live video (IGTV), Instagram or Snapchat stories, YouTube videos and pre-produced videos to share on social media, websites and other marketing channels. Videos can deliver an advertising message and connect viewers with the right channels to complete the entire shopping experience.
3. User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) is emerging as an effective tool leveraged by brands in their marketing campaigns. UGC can take many forms, but in general, is any content—blog posts, reviews, social media posts, or videos—created by customers, or users, that organically and authentically promotes a brand or their product. Sometimes companies will provide direction for the creation of this content, through contests or Facebook polls or other means, but its power lies in being seen as significantly more authentic than brand-created content while also affordable.
Companies can combine the two concepts, influencer marketing and UGC, to capitalize on the benefits of both. Some ideas for doing so include asking influencers to run a UGC hashtag contest, amplifying influencer content to reach more viewers, inviting influencers to give product reviews or testimonials, and tracking the impact of influencers’ content and using the data to alter future UGC campaigns.
4. Increased Brand Competition
Brands are increasingly realizing the benefits of influencer marketing for profiting their business. To get a competitive edge with this technique, some marketers choose to increase their budget to boost their influencer marketing program. Others find ways to get creative in their approach.
For example, radio DJs were early pioneers of influencer marketing, wielding their authority to impact not only music trends but also delivering their opinions on other products. Radio personalities still hold powerful influence over their audience and can be leveraged to deliver authentic endorsements or serve as brand ambassadors.
5. Stronger Emphasis on Authenticity
Especially for younger audiences, like Millennials and Generation Z, authenticity and transparency are paramount when it comes to deciding which brands they support, according to Stackla’s 2017 Consumer Content Report. In general, however, 86 percent of consumers claim authenticity is important when choosing what brands they like and support.
UGC is one way to increase authenticity, as consumers say they are three times more likely to trust the authenticity of content created by a consumer over content created by a brand. Even when not leveraging UGC, brands can still finds ways to endow their marketing campaigns with authenticity and transparency by disclosing sponsorships according to Federal Trade Commission guidelines or including the hashtag #sponsored in social media posts.
A Growing Marketing Tactic
With influencer marketing becoming an effective means of delivering a message, brands should keep an eye on emerging trends and new ideas to make the practice more affordable, profitable, and compelling. Businesses large and small can find forms of influencer marketing that are within their scope and budget. Even local companies can utilize both radio and small-scale social influencers to endorse their brand, services, or products in a way that appeals to customers and builds transparency and trust.