The social media landscape is going through a lot of changes. As users’ focus switches from celebrities to close friends, social media platforms are redefining themselves as places for meaningful interaction and social activism. Yet influencers are not going anywhere.
On the contrary, the scale at which influencer campaigns are conducted is greater than ever, thanks, in part, to the advent of micro-influencers. We at MNFST find ourselves in the middle of these changes. So, let’s talk about the defining trends of the year to come — and what your business can do to leverage them.
Celebrities are not that engaging on social media
Until recently, influencer campaign managers have been preoccupied with getting the biggest names their money could afford. However, as our social media habits change, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that such strategies do not work as well as they’re supposed to.
All influencer marketing campaigns are built on trust and reliability. If your brand is endorsed by a trustworthy person, the recommendation becomes reliable. On the other hand, the kind of trust we have for public figures can come and go unexpectedly. It takes a lot of effort to maintain, and even the slightest public wrongdoing may lead to its loss.
The quality of engagement big influencers offer is also questionable. The average Instagram engagement rate for people with over 100,000 followers is a mere 1.1%.
Engagement trumps reach
No matter how much you love your favorite singer, chances are, you’ll never get to meet them and they will never love you back. However, your friends — the people who have been your influencers before influencers were a thing — are capable of offering you genuine love.
This is why we believe that nano-influencers, people with fewer than a thousand followers, hold the key to the future of this kind of marketing. Their engagement rates are, on average, seven times higher than those of more prominent Instagram users, and the relationships they build are more solid.
Close friends are becoming a priority
The culture often fostered by social media is not particularly healthy, either. Celebrity accounts increase your feed’s information/action ratio. We absorb more and more information, without, in many cases, the ability to act upon it. This can make us angry, bitter and even depressed. Because of that, social media platforms have started encouraging their users to focus more on their close friends.
All of this presents a damning view of the ‘big influencer’ bubble, which, we think, is about to pop. As users switch their attention away from big names, your marketing strategy should accommodate this new reality. Brands should work in tandem with the real influencers of the world — people’s friends, family, and acquaintances.
Creativity matters even more
The landscape of social media content is also changing. People want to get more out of their screen time — and content creators are happy to oblige.
TikTok — arguably, the most important platform to gain popularity in the past couple of years — started as a lip syncing app for vain Gen Z-ers, transformed into a spiritual successor to Vine, and is now testing out educational features. It even partnered up with a number of Indian schools and non-profits. YouTube is also relying on such content to keep its users busy. It recently invested $20 million in original educational programming, and remains a valuable source of knowledge for many Internet users. Sure, Instagram used to be the place to publish pictures of your food — but not anymore. Its users are writing longer, more elaborate captions in order to bring something more substantial to the table. Even selfies have been taken to a new level thanks to things like augmented reality. Creativity is the name of the game.
There’s also a new breed of celebrity on the block — the virtual influencer. These digital people come to life thanks to the magic of computer graphics and artificial intelligence. Managed by entire teams of creative professionals, they, once again, raise the bar of the kind of content quality social media users expect to see online.
Taking these trends into account, it is safe to assume that in the year 2020 we will see a further increase in content complexity — and your strategy needs to reflect that.
The year of activism and accountability
These days it’s almost impossible to be unaware of the injustices taking place around the world. An ever-increasing number of young people – Gen Z-ers and Millennials – are using the Internet to combat things like climate change and gender discrimination. Therefore, brands, especially those that utilize influencer marketing, can no longer ignore the big issues of today.
Influencers take their social media presence — and the voice that comes with it — extremely seriously. They refuse to work with morally ambiguous brands and products. What’s more, they know their worth — and want you to recognize their importance. Influencers now control what they’re promoting, how they’re doing it, and how they’re getting paid. This tips the scales in their favor — a reality many brands will have to learn to live with.
All the trends we mentioned — the demand for greater accountability and authenticity, the focus on user generated content — align perfectly with the increased demand for nano-influencers. They make large scale, high-ER ad campaigns a better choice than ever before.
It’s only a matter of time until nano-influencers realize how much power they wield, and push for an even greater democratization of the online media. We support these changes, and want to be at their forefront. That is why we are democratizing influencer marketing to push authenticity and creativity to new levels.