New Digital Age is running a series of articles looking at the future of influencer marketing, talking to experts in the market around how the discipline will evolve over the coming year.
We asked Beth Nunnington, PR Director at performance marketing agency Journey Further, for her thoughts on the biggest trends shaping influencer marketing.
How are the relationships between brands and influencers changing?
Often when we ask new or prospective clients about their previous experience with influencers, they say they haven’t had a proper strategy in place, and so have struggled to monitor ROI and understand what success looks like, as they have been working with influencers on an ad hoc campaign basis.
In the future, I think we will see brands becoming more aware of the importance of working with influencers that can genuinely make an impact, ensuring they have a set strategy in place, rather than a ‘spray and pray approach’.
It’s likely we will see an increase in the number of long-term brand partnerships, which will see brands work with fewer, but more relevant influencers, on a retained basis.
Social media users are becoming increasingly savvy and more sceptical towards paid partnerships. In order to build trust and authenticity, it’s important to work with influencers that genuinely believe in your brand, and who will continue to be big advocates long after the paid partnership ends.
Mrs. Hinch is a good example of this, as she regularly works with a select number of brands that are both relevant to her channel (Zoflora, Minky & Cif for example) and are ones that she genuinely loves to use, even before she became famous for her cleaning.
How is brands’ use of influencer marketing evolving?
I believe that non-celebrity influencers will appear more frequently in brands’ own content, through their own TV or YouTube campaigns.
Macro influencers such as Victoria from ‘In the Frow’, Megan Ellaby and Em Sheldon have all recently appeared in beauty brands’ TV advertising, rather than celebrities or models.
This is likely to be a tactic that other brands will follow, as they are often deemed more relatable to their target audience, and have a more attainable lifestyle.
In addition, it can be cheaper to ask an influencer to create video content than it is to shoot it yourself. As long as you provide a tight brief and ask for at least two rounds of amends, you can maintain an element of editorial control, whilst knowing that the content will appear more natural.
This content is often very engaging and can therefore be very effective. However, an influencer’s following is finite, so in order to maximise reach, and ROI, we expect to see brands amplifying their content through paid social and programmatic media buying.
How will increasing regulation affect influencer marketing?
Hopefully for the better, as tighter regulations should also increase the public’s trust in influencers, which will ultimately support brands’ objectives in the long run.
As Instagram looks to move away from Likes, it will be interesting to see how this impacts in trust signals, with comments becoming increasingly more important as signs of engagement. [this is also a useful resource.]
In addition, it is vital to ensure that an influencer’s followers are genuine, in order to be confident that they are the right partner and will be a good investment of marketing budget.
One tool that we are currently trialling is ‘Hype Auditor’ which uses AI to discover if an Instagram account has fake/spammy followers. This type of tool will become increasingly more popular and hopefully reduce the amount of bought followers and bots.