As consumer relationships with brands reach a crossroad, influencer marketing is fast becoming a kind of panacea of opportunities for brands - but I believe it’s about to go through some of its biggest changes in 2018, as it has the ability to completely re-imagine marketing as we know it and design deeper, more meaningful experiences for consumers.
Marketers need to be ready for this shift and prepare for how best to use influencer marketing.
Influencers as distributors of content
The social influencer marketing world has so far been propped up by the belief that influencers are modern-day celebrities. Due to their perceived power with their audience and positive association that comes with brand collaborations, digital influencers can charge a premium to brands for collaboration. It is not unheard of for influencers to charge brands up to 5x their true worth as they could tout “the special relationship they have built” with their fans as justification.
My prediction for the future is that influencers are going to be seen for what they truly are: distribution channels. Brands will therefore have a standardised metric to measure influencer marketing which isn't variably linked to the perceived relationship that an influencer has built with their fans.
A mismatch between results
There is a lot of confusion as to how to measure results in the influencer world. This is primarily because both groups - influencers and brands have wildly different incentives. Influencers are incentivised to price by their highest numbers – which are subscribers and followers - whereas brands are incentivised to price by their KPI - which is generally engagement on the collaboration. Consequently, brands are resigned to merely playing to the influencers measure of success which often leads to sub-par results.
I believe we’re going to be seeing more of a shared risk between brands and influencers. Rather than influencers charging via followers, we will end up in a more mutually aligned market where brands pay for what universally matters – engagement.
The great thing is that when you align incentives between brands and influencers, influencers then work harder to earn their keep and that hard work often leads to better results for the brand. For instance, we have pioneered the advent of a cost-per-completed-view business model to brands whilst also rewarding our influencers on the exact same metric, resulting in influencers averaging 90% completion rates on our branded content. I believe more such models will develop in the future to create a fairer market for all parties involved.
The Facebookification of influencers
Right now, influencer marketing is somewhat of a black box, with vague top line metrics like ‘number of impressions’, ‘views’ and ‘number of clicks’ being the only real measurements of engagement. My advice to marketers: don’t care about how many people see your brand. Instead, focus on something deeper than merely impressions.
I believe in 2018 we’re going to be seeing what I call the Facebookification of influencers. With this, far deeper levels of transparency are going to exist in the influencer world, rather than merely top line metrics such as impressions and clicks. We’re going to be seeing metrics that offer more granularity in the same way Facebook does; you will be able to track things like consumer sentiment and audience psychographics, making sure marketers can use influencers that reflect the brand requirements in a much more specific, emotional way. It’s my belief that whoever can bring this granularity at scale to the influencer world wins.
I’m very excited to see the future of influencer marketing in 2018 as it has the ability to completely overturn how modern-day businesses engage with their customers - by treating influencers as distribution outlets, having a shared sense of risk between brand and influencers and the deep data-driven attitude. I believe it's only a matter of time till we see influencer marketing become even more of a major force in the marketing arsenal.
Timothy Armoo, Co-founder and CEO, Fanbytes.