Influencer marketing is dead. Long live influencer marketing.
The influencer marketing world is changing. What used to be seen as the magic pill for big brands to reach the heart of millennials is now beginning to become a tool that most if not all businesses can use – albeit at different scales and sizes. As both the founder of Fanbytes, the UK's largest video influencer platform and part of the millennial audience being a 21-year-old, I predict three main shifts in the influencer marketing ecosystem and marketers could do worse than check it out.
1. All hail the micro-influencer
Forget Zoella. The appeal of the super influencer, the individual with massive amounts of followers, is now dead. Too often brands, enamoured by the appeal of the influencer with massive reach and views, pay top dollar for collaboration with these guys. The common story goes that if this person grabs more eyeballs then by definition this should lead to higher results. What we've seen however in our campaigns has been the converse: as opposed to massive subscribers or views leading to results, what matters is influence.
In a market such as influencer marketing, many marketers have forgotten what matters at its core – influence. I describe these people, with smaller channels but high influence, as microinfluencers. As a company we've created the Fanbytes Score, a measure of the influence of our 3000 influencers and have realised that those with high influence scores but smaller audiences far outperform those with larger audiences. I believe that this is signal for what is to come in the world of influencer marketing
2. Data driven campaigns will become a must
As influencer marketing becomes more of a media buy, there will be a need for stronger accountability. Currently, when a marketer runs a campaign with YouTube or Instagram influencers, success is measured by impressions. However as influencer marketing evolves, there will be need for better than this. Measuring the number of clicks and the increases in brand engagement will become a staple and core part of any influencer programme in the same way they are for Facebook campaigns.
3. Always on
Its comical that in this mobile world we're living in, things are done solely through emails and long drawn out exchanges at the desktop between brand and influencer. Considering that most influencers have grown up as the mobile generation and as the generation in which mobiles are their interface to the world, it's imperative that influencer campaigns have an always-on focus enabling influencers to accept and work on campaigns as they are on the go. I envision that rather than drawn out exchanges, the future belongs to the Uberisation of influencers, wherein in one single push of a button a brand is able to mobilise influencers at a whim.
4. Context is everything
We've grown up with the thinking that content is everything, however I believe that with time, this will become invalid and rather context will become everything. The compelling thing around influencer marketing is that you're dealing with real-life people, with emotions and most importantly the ability to tell a story. The ability to tell a story is particularly important in the future as whether it's three minutes as on YouTube, 60 seconds as on Instagram or 10 seconds on Snapchat, there still lies the opportunity to tell stories and weave context.
A previous example of this is with MeUndies, a fun e-commerce brand which sells underwear. It made a campaign with Snapchat influencers who created a whole set of stories around being in uncomfortable position – atop a Starbucks or on a crosswalk – and how their life changed due to MeUndies. At the end of the story, fans were given a vanity link to the website. This campaign, with its added layer of context and telling a story, resulted in 16 per cent click through to the brand's site and massive increase in sales.
Closer to home, we ran a campaign with the world's greatest footballer player Ronaldinho to help him sell golden Segways, creating a story in which an 18-year-old football YouTuber was to meet his footballing hero and do freestyle tricks on a Segway. This story-led approach led to fantastic results, over 2.5 million views, with a campaign that sold out of Segways and trended on Twitter six times.
Timothy Armoo is the co-founder and CEO of Fanbytes, the video influencer network. He was one of the speakers at The Drum's Future of Marketing event.