Influencer marketing used to be an ad hoc marketing experiment. However, over the last few years, the industry has become more sophisticated, in part based on the demands of the more educated influencer marketing customer. Most brands already understand that influence and trusted recommendations are a powerful lever, and smart brands are treating influencer marketing as a strategic part of their budget.
To that end, many companies have plans to increase their influencer marketing investment and want to develop long-term partnerships with creative influencers on social. Moreover, companies are starting to make greater demands of the influencer marketing industry as a whole. Not only do brands want better data on influencers and campaigns, they want more transparency when it comes to metrics, influencer performance, and real v fake followers.
Here are three trends and challenges facing the influencer marketing space in 2019 and beyond.
A more strategic focus
It’s not uncommon for companies to jump from one influencer marketing provider to another to save money or test different platforms. The result of this inconsistency is scattered data. As brands start to understand the value of owning their own data, they also want that data in one place. Going forward, brands are looking to invest in just one strategic influencer marketing partnership, and consolidated data, to measure the long-term impact of influencer strategy.
While there are a few platforms really working on this kind of data integration, many platforms are not prepared. This is a change driven by brands that want to develop a data-driven strategy. In the coming years, we can expect to see an evolution in how platforms gather data, what data is gathered, and how the data is used.
A demand for increased transparency
Brands are becoming more educated and competent, and as they move towards a more strategic focus, they’re asking smarter questions. In addition to data, companies want to know how content from specific influencers and campaigns is converted into sales. For example, Buzzoole has partnered with Nielsen to develop a tool that measures the reach by a specific piece of content, as well as the number of people who actually remember viewing the content (ie ad recall).
The influencer marketing technology industry needs to listen and continue to create tools based on customer demand. Marketers and brands want tools that gather all metrics relevant to value generation – brand lift or sales lift, and other key performance indicators that are important for tying influencer marketing to strategic objectives. Brands also want tools with the ability to track performance from multiple social media platforms, in real time. And with the coming deprecation of the Instagram API, access to first party data will become a precious resource. Platforms and providers that fail to deliver access to the necessary data will likely fall behind as the market evolves.
Fake followers and fraudulent engagement
While fake followers and bots are not new to social media, the growth in influencer marketing has been closely connected with the rise in both. According to research from influencer marketing agency MediaKix, the demand for fake followers on Instagram is five times the demand on other networks. What’s more: the same research indicates the market for fake nstagram followers increased 70% in 2018.
The influencer industry relies on trust and authenticity to influence consumers, so the rise of fake followers could erode business and consumer trust. Not only do brands want more transparency in the data, they want a way to validate the authenticity of influencers’ audiences. The ability to apply a scientific methodology to determine how much of an influencers’ following is fake, could be a killer feature for platforms.
The unfortunate reality is that a percentage of everyone’s’ following on social is made up of bots. Which is why it’s important for social media platforms to make their environment safer for their customers – brands and marketers. In fact, in the first nine months of 2018, Facebook deleted more than half a billion fake profiles. In 2019 we could see Facebook, Instagram and other social networks become more vigilant in their fight against the market for fake followers.
A new era of smarter influencer marketing
We’re moving into the next iteration of influencer marketing a little smarter.
As brands take a more strategic approach to influencer marketing, industry platforms and providers will have to become more forthcoming and transparent when it comes to both data and relationships. At the same time, influencers and social media platforms must protect their customers and take a stand against the rise in fake followers and engagement.
To see Buzzoole speak further on this topic, register to attend The Drum's UK Predicitions event on 23 January 2019 in London.
Fabrizio Perrone, CEO & co-founder, Buzzoole
Tel: +39 081 19316300