10 years ago, companies all over the world were facing a hurdle. Getting TV celebrities to talk about their brands was no longer holding sway.
The shift was pretty noticeable right away. Consumers adopted new attitudes towards fame. Mostly, they were ruled by indifference. People were no longer sympathising with movie stars, fashion supermodels or any other faces on TV.
But that’s the beauty of the online world, isn’t it? No day passes by without its expansion going one inch further off course.
Naturally, marketers started looking for solutions. What finally paid off is a new branch we know today as influencer marketing.
Fast forward 10 years and celebrities are pushed further away out of the limelight.
In their place, local individuals with a rainbow of hobbies and passions get the attention of thousands of social media users. Their creative touch is what marketers are now after.
So far, the ROI of influencer marketing has manifested its value countless times. Brands are scouting for nano-, micro-, and macro-influencers in their attempt to set the scene for Millennials and Gen Zers.
In the following 10 years, social media accounts with numerous followers are set to work more closely with the business sector.
Having said that, let’s dive into key influencer marketing adjustments you need to set the rhythm right for the rest of the new ‘20s.
1) Influencers, SM Ads, and Content Marketing As One
So far, marketers are dealing with the entirety of online marketing one piece at a time. The many departments that make up a company leave only faint echoes in one another.
Worse, specialists are treating influencer marketing, social media, and content marketing as separate projects.
Where does this leave us? Consumers see mixed messages on different platforms.
Let’s say business accounts on Instagram can’t stop talking about end of season discounts. Yet the same brands promote new products through Facebook ads retargeting. In the end, the audience might wind up either misinformed or confused.
In the new decade, consumers’ expectations of commitment and trustworthiness will put an end to this sort of disruption.
This means that all teams inside a company have to quit their individual agenda. Marketers will ensure that all campaigns finish a full cycle across all online channels.
Once a dedicated landing page is set up, holistic campaigns ignite. They can quickly spread across the web through social media ads.
In the meantime, influencers are starting conversations with consumers about new promotions. Through blog posts, interviews, podcasts, press releases, and other content pieces, marketers make sure their campaigns are transparent and potent.
Aligning these 3 core segments can only lead to a multi-dimensional customer journey. This trip has everything:
- A familiar and likeable face that endorses products (influencers);
- An engaging story that reaches people on their favourite channels (content);
- Product information available across multiple platforms (online advertising).
2) Focus on Content that Moves and Speaks
In the new 20s’, companies can no longer get away without humanising their public image.
Leave behind the anonymity of ads, cold newsletters, stock photos, and graphics. What’s left is a selection of brand ambassadors that create authentic content in the name of their partners.
Usually, these personalities are:
- CEOs (Sir Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, Venus Williams, etc.)
- Employees (Dave Jorgenson from The Washington Post)
- Instagram influencers (James Charles, Tonio Skits, Hannes Becker, etc.)
- YouTube influencers (Zach King, PewDiePie, Ryan Higa, etc.)
- Twitter influencers ( Joy Bauer, Mary Portas, Rachelle Lucas, etc.)
- Bloggers (Julia Sarinara, Jeff Bullas, Gala Darling, etc.)
It is of utmost importance for these hand-picked professionals to share similar beliefs to their partners.
Why? Because their demeanour shapes the public opinion on the brands they represent.
But what does it take to bring a brand to life? People feel inexplicably drawn to personalities similar to theirs. Therefore, brands can easily get to their target audience by moving and talking just like them.
Brand humanisation has become increasingly simple with social platforms encouraging video content.
Instagram is resolute to make IGTV a staple. Stories (a few second-long video formats that vanish after 24 hours) are now everywhere: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and YouTube.
There’s no denying that influencers who speak with their audience and show them sponsored products are delivering impressive results.
Therefore, in 2020, companies will make static posts look antique with videos, podcasts, prevailing.
3) Instead of Working With, Form Relationships
Up to this point, we’ve settled two things.
First, the new decade wants influencer marketing to join all marketing meetings. Second, the time has come for all influencer briefs to get vocal about video and audio.
What about influencers themselves? Brands have learned the hard way that it’s a tough job to keep juggling their partners every month.
At first, the idea was to reach out to as many audiences as possible against the clock. That implied producing one influencer campaign after the other. On top of that, each project demanded completely new influencers.
In the end, campaigns delivered the results they were created for. Thousands of consumers got to hear about new products.
However, impressions lasted for a fleeting moment. The next product mention was bound to show up and shine for a few moments as well.
But this short-sighted routine is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
The probation period has ended. Now marketers are looking to integrate social media creators on the long haul.
Long-term partnerships with influencers set off a slew of advantages like:
By enrolling the same partners in upcoming campaigns, those hours invested in finding new influential accounts are scratched out.
More than that, influencers that keep working with the same brands get to understand their culture.
In time, marketers get to trust their partners’ ability to create amazing content, on their own, representative of their brand.
With influencers mentioning a product once, followers don’t spend enough time getting to know that new brand a little bit better.
With ongoing product endorsements, things are different. People have months at their disposal to get familiar with the many uses of items or services.
Increased trust of your audience
Social media users are well aware that influencers live off partnerships. There’s no doubt about it.
However, what they expect of big accounts is commitment.
If a leading fashion influencer promotes certain labels, those labels are not to be missing from their personal wardrobe. When a brand repeatedly appears in daily vlogs, Instagram Stories or social posts, people will eventually gain trust and test it out for themselves.
4) Micro-Influencers to Enroll in Special Programs
Companies can’t tie influencers to a 9-to-5 job. This would cement long-term projects with inspiring personalities. Yet influencers are freelancers first and foremost. Therefore, their career is built on multiple partnerships at a time.
But nobody says companies can’t earn their loyalty. That’s why plenty of international brands decided to start their in-house influencer programs.
Just imagine. Tens of influencers always in the loop on the latest company updates. They are ready to weave engaging stories for their followers without marketers lifting a finger.
Amazon is upfront about its influencer program, and the market is already ripe for any company to follow suit.
Here’s how to start your in-house influencer program:
Name an in-house manager
Appoint someone in charge of this new project. This will be the liaison person between the brand and influencers. Ideally, this colleague is already an influencer marketing specialist.
Decide on a benefit program
Do a little bit of reverse engineering and figure out what it would take for persons of influence to join forces with you.
Education (photography courses, digital design, filming, etc.), percentage of sales, market data, access to events, free products, monthly professional feedback are just some of the go-to choices.
Make the announcement
Make sure your local influencers are going to find out about the new program in town. Set up a landing page, run ads on their social platform or film a teaser.
Keep partners engaged
Make sure all influencer program members are active throughout each month.
Organise meetings and events periodically, launch themes to spark ongoing content, and draw them in the company culture.
5) Unconventional Types of Influencers
What keeps online marketing fresh if not embracing novelty?
The range of influencers has blown out of portions. It now goes beyond nano-, micro-, and macro- categories.
By contacting unconventional creators, companies gain a lot in terms of original content that generates sales.
Also, their input is key to audiences that would otherwise be unreachable.
Up to this point, video games have built a $120 billion empire. They are already part of our culture, and game developers are thriving along with players.
Along this booming market came gamers and their hobby of Twitch streaming to walk users through gameplays. Millions are following gamers and their live sessions on Twitch.
Gamers are not late to monetise their Twitch channels and shake hands with reputable brands. Not only the gaming sector, but also automotive, food & beverage, tech, television, and apparel are industries compatible with gaming influencers.
CGI / Virtual influencers
Unexpectedly, virtual account owners are fascinating millions of Instagram users.
For example, Miquela is an avatar behaving like a real-life teenager with her own hobbies, dramas, and dreams. Almost two million people are staying tuned to her posts.
Among selfies, restaurants, locations, meals, and friends, there are also pictures with product recommendations in collaboration with Samsung and Calvin Klein.
It turns out that CGI will affect our future in more ways than we thought!
At its core, Instagram is a visual platform. But the channel evolves at the same pace as its users.
The most influential accounts on Instagram are starting to change the way they communicate with communities. They started needing more than pictures to express themselves.
So instagrammable photography has received stronger backup in the form of long descriptions. This is how long-form caption influencers emerged.
Marketers are turning to this new breed as the fastest way to concoct a true-to-life, engaging story about their brand.
For Generation Z, taking care of our planet makes it to their top priorities. Naturally, there’s no surprise that youngsters are following activists closely.
By shouldering social and climate causes and partnering with activist influencers, brands can easily strike a conversation with the new generation.
Encouraging employees to talk about their companies on their social profiles might be old news.
Unfortunately, too few have given this a try. In the future, expect more brands to proactively instil a sense of pride worthy of posting about.
Companies can always encourage employees to boast over social media about their company culture through various means.
Allow them to take up social media and photography courses. Plan team buildings or activities more often.
This way, employees have more topics to talk about with their friends and followers.
6) A Well-Defined Industry
Influencer marketing is to get an even stronger legitimacy with official authorities taking a deeper interest in it.
The Federal Trade Commission recognised this market as an influential sector by imposing its own rules and regulations.
While some view this intervention as restrictive, good practices will always prevail. Professional creators invested in their work will always know how to keep their content stellar and compliant at the same time.
Think of future regulations as guardians of influencer campaign authenticity. After all, the authorities’ main goal is to preserve consumers’ online safety.
As long as promoted content is mindful of viewers without forsaking quality, regulations will never be able to stifle jaw-dropping campaigns.
For the following 10 years, social platforms are planning amazing updates that are hard to predict where technology and AI reign.
However, there are certain trends that are just starting to take shape based on present social user behaviours. Consumers are expecting brands to be more transparent and get involved in modern culture.
Moreover, static content is to go extinct. In its place, videos, stories, and podcasts will take over all social platforms. So it’s high time companies invested in knowledge and filming techniques.
Get ready to take up long-term collaborations with social media creators that resemble professional relationships more than basic contractors.
This level of commitment has high chances of taking roots in your own in-house influencer program. This makes it easier to stay connected to your partners.
By the way, influencer marketing is like no other sales strategy as it doesn’t fit in any typology. Companies can appear well represented on social through unconventional content from virtual influencers, CGI avatars, activists or gamers.
Lastly, the FTC shows no signs of stopping. The commission will continue to draw the official features of influencer marketing which can only certify a strong dominance.
All in all, influencer marketing is just getting started! If you’re looking to dominate this field in the 20s’, hurry up and innovate your influencer marketing approach.