January 22, 2018

Influencer Marketing Is Here To Stay. Prepare For These 5 Changes In 2018.

Influencer marketing is just getting started. That is bad news for people who hope it’s going to disappear, like this fellow (Paul Stenson). But good news for brands.

(Read about Paul Stenson and the latest influencer marketing scandal here. Luxury hotel bans social media influencer.)

Last year, 86% of marketers ran influencer campaigns and 92% of them said they were effective. In a climate of fear about paid advertising and new limits on organic reach of Facebook pages, marketers will lean on influencer marketing for reach and conversions more in 2018 than ever before.

But the industry is nowhere near perfect. The influencer marketing space is currently filled with cowboys and chancers. Very few people understand the importance of a calculated and data-driven strategy - one that preserves the integrity of brands and influencers.

  1. The first big change for 2018 is that the influencer marketing industry needs professionalism. We need more specialist agencies. We need managers and agents to make sure influencers fulfil their obligations. We need clear pricing structures that reflect and communicate the value of influencers. We need influencers to be open about their audience demographics. Everyone needs to stop buying followers. We need transparency.

2. The second big shift for influencer marketing for 2018 is having an integrated strategy. This means adding influencers - when appropriate - to every stage of the marketing funnel. I’ll give you an example - imagine Land Rover is selling a new car.

Brand awareness - The first stage is making potential customers aware of the new model. Land Rover may run TV or digital ad campaigns and push for press coverage, but they could also have a large travel influencer post a photo of camping in their new car on Instagram as they journey through mountains for the perfect shot. The influencer represents the lifestyle Land Rover wants that car to represent.

Consideration - This is when you help potential customers seriously imagine how the car fits into their life. This could be with targeted advertising to different income brackets, offering payment plans that suit them. Or it could be through using an influencer with a family to demonstrate the amount of trunk space and comfort.

Conversion - The stage where customers take the leap and part with their cash. This is the perfect stage for YouTube campaigns that talk through complicated processes. Carwow has been exceptional. They embed YouTube review videos of cars that get more and more detailed as you get closer to purchase. See here:

Advocacy - Let happy customers become advocates for your product. If Julie who bought the new Land Rover posts it on Facebook or Instagram to show her 674 friends and 432 followers, then Julie is a micro-influencer. And before you belittle Julie's impact, non-celebrity influencers are 10 times more likely to drive in-store purchases than celebrities.

This year, brands need to plan how to use influencers - from the celebrity to the friend - at every stage of marketing a product.

3. 2018 is the year of squad goals. L’Oreal put themselves on the map in 2016 by creating the first beauty squad. As a testament to the success of influencer marketing, they’ve since expanded the squad from five to eight core members. Squads let you access different demographics in one campaign and create a sense of unity around your brand.

4. It’s been said before, but 2018 will be the year of content. It has become habitual to avoid advertising - 65% of people skip YouTube ads and brands are worried about the standards of content their advertising is being shown on. This year, brands should make content people want to see. Whether that is through influencers whose values represent you or producing content of your own, every brand should have a plan.

5. Finally, 2018 will be the year of pricing normalisation. Gone are the days of influencers doing something “for exposure”. If you want something for free as a brand, offer a money can’t buy opportunity to the right influencer. Realistically consider the value of having your target customer choose to watch content about your brand.

To determine an influencer’s value, calculate the costs of advertising to get in front of your target audience. Remember to include accessing those using ad blockers and skipping ads. Then add the value of trust. Influencer marketing is normally good value for money, compared to ad spend.

We have a long way to go, but 2018 will see the beginning of fundamental changes in the influencer marketing industry. Influencer marketing is not a trend. It’s here to stay.