Every fall, when it comes to the statistics, I realize how the performance predictions and trends are challenging. In the era of digital Darwinism, no one can accurately predict what will happen. A crystal ball does not exist, and there are no shortcuts. All we can do is observe what is happening, and to assume the changes it can bring to our industry. And that is exactly what I try to do with my blogs.
So before discussing the predictions for the next year in social media influencer marketing. Here is my personal assessment of what has changed over the past 2 years.
1 – The massive adoption of influencer marketing by businesses
In recent years, the influence of social media has skyrocketed. Traditional advertising has limited impact on consumers. So companies have opted for influencer marketing in hopes to re-engage their clientele. Nearly 70% of businesses surveyed in the most recent Tomoson study, considered their influencer marketing strategy beneficial. 73% noted that it allowed them to create new leads. Over 93% said it helped increase awareness of their business.
2 – Regaining consumer trust for business leaders
Last spring, the Edelman firm released its new annual report: Trust Barometer. It highlighted a slight increase in the trust level of the population. This rise included improved social commitment of organizations and greater involvement of leaders in web and social network strategies. Since new Generation X CEOs are taking over decision-making positions, social initiatives are readily promoted and interventions on social networks are better framed.
3 – More focused approach to connected users and influencers
In direct response to the failure of traditional advertising, 84% of consumers trust recommendations from peers and experts before brand advertising. Companies attempted to take a different approach on social networks. To better meet the expectations of users, and increase the rate of engagement on the platforms, businesses involved several departments in their influencer strategy. This study from the firm Augure / Launchmetrics shows that this approach has significantly improved the quality of user experience.
4 – The growing role of ambassadors programs within companies
In their efforts to move closer to users and better meet user expectations, companies have started involving their staff more. Employee awareness programs have been established and employee ambassadors have significantly increased staff participation in the strategy deployed on their social networks. A recent study by the Altimeter Group found that ambassadors in business programs have increased by over 191%.
5 – Importance of blogs and original content to stand out
Nearly 85% (83%) of connected moms read more than 5 personal blogs every week. Where inbound marketing and prospecting is the prevailing way to reach customers, corporate blogs, and original content is a brilliant strategy. More than 80% of businesses surveyed said they will increase their content marketing budget. By effectively leveraging blogs, entrepreneurs have developed and impose a strong digital identity for their organization. Helping them stand out on the web and social media.
6 – Integration of native advertisements and sponsored blogs
Over the past 2 years, with the widespread adoption of screening apps and ad blocking (more than 200 million users) companies have adopted a less intrusive approach to reach their customers. Native advertisements fit better and naturally in editorial content and sponsored blogs with niche community influencers. Many see this as an effective way to monetize their presence on social networks: nearly 80% of mommy bloggers accepted money for testing or recommend products.
7 – The popularity of new instant content sharing platforms
The pervasiveness of mobile technology in the ecosystem of social networks, and access to rich tools of content production and distribution (visual, and interactive) has encouraged the development of new sites like Instagram and Snapchat. Powered by users, these new sharing platforms instant and temporary content quickly became extremely popular with new generations (under 35), and encouraged rapid consumption of micro-content (also called Content Snacking). The 5 most popular platforms for users age 35 are in order, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. And the most exploited platforms for influencers who focus on the new generation market are also, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
8 – Rise of niche influencers and micro-influencers
The growing availability of tools for creating and publishing content allows any user to produce and distribute their own content. In this context, we have seen a multitude of bloggers semi-professional emerge and take advantage of these tools to dominate a niche on popular platforms. Like celebrities and macro-influencers like YouTuber Pew Die Pie (who has several million followers), a few niche influencers (or middle-influencers) have quickly built huge audiences in their community. From 1000 for micro-influencers, to 100,000 for middle-influencers. They have become the new word of mouth marketing in their community.
9 – Advancement of AR technology promotes new forms of content
The progress of augmented reality technologies and geolocation fostered the emergence of new forms of content, more interactive and episodic. These technological advancements actually meet the ongoing entertainment needs for young users, who are major consumers of social gaming. In just few months, PokemonGo became a mass phenomenon that was quickly recognized by marketers and local businesses. It became the quickest social game to reach more than 500 million dollars in revenue. 360 degrees video and wearing technology will bring the social gaming even further.
10 – False recommendations and astro-turfing tactics are illegal
In the past few months, we’ve had a crisis that has shaken consumer trust again. False recommendations and illegal astro-turfing tactics have been used by some major brands (Warner Bros. and XBox) and social networks celebrities (Pew Die Pie and IAmWildCat). Following the intervention of the Federal Trade Commission, many fashionistas and other bloggers, who accepted sponsorship without acknowledging it, have also been called out and lost credibility in their community.
A great lesson: shortcuts to success doesn’t exist!
If there is a lesson from past years it is that there are no shortcuts to success. Having focused on the new generation market, and opted for strategies with niche influencers on new sharing platforms, companies realize the influencer marketing in social media is much more complex than a simple popularity contest. And it’s not a matter of numbers but of relationships. In this context, it is hoped that in the coming months influencer marketing finally will have it’s shining moment.
What do you think? What changes have you observed with influencer marketing over the past few years? Share your observations and comments with our readers.