2018 was a pivotal year for Influencer Marketing. Partnering with influencers to raise brand awareness or push conversions became everyday practise for marketers and agencies. For agencies, like Digital Voices, it became less about educating brands on Influencer Marketing, and more about seamless brand integrations and making data-driven decisions.
But where does this leave us for 2019? Will influencer spend continue on its steep growth trajectory? The industry is predicted to grow from $2bn in 2017 to $10bn in 2020. Will Instagram reign supreme for the next year?
The other positive change in 2018 was seeing the industry professionalise and become more data-driven. This was partly due to Keith Weed’s critique and largely due to the hard work of certain smart brands and agencies to prove return on investment from influencer partnerships.
In 2016-7, talent managers were the salesmen of influencer marketing - touting their individual creators as the best talent available and taking a slice of the pie in fees. In 2018, the appeal of talent management waned, replaced by data-driven platforms that allowed brands to partner with hundreds of Instagram creators at scale. Over 420 specialist platforms and agencies were created in 2017 and they hit the ground running with sales in 2018.
For 2019, things are moving onward and upward. This is the year of balancing platforms, data and creative to get the most from campaigns. Brands are looking to partner with specialists, who appreciate the intricacies of different social media platforms and know exactly how to get the most from the vast reams of data available.
We’re only 23 days into January and one of the biggest industry transformations is already all over the news: Regulation. The involvement of the Advertising Standards Agency and Competition and Markets Authority shows that Influencer Marketing is finally a grown-up industry. Brands and agencies need to stay on the right side of the law.
Moving beyond Instagram?
So far Instagram has dominated the Influencer Marketing space. In 2018, 93% of Influencer Marketing campaigns included Instagram according to Creator IQ. Last quarter alone, the use of Facebook and Twitter in marketing campaigns declined by 20% and 10% respectively. Brands are wising up to using the right platforms and creators to see real impact.
Brands are getting smarter and demanding deeper engagement from their Influencer Marketing campaigns. This is why YouTube will be the platform to watch in 2019. Average watch time for a video on Facebook is 17 seconds. Instagram Stories’ average watch time is less than 11 seconds. YouTube’s average video watch time is 4 minutes. The average mobile session on YouTube lasts 40 minutes.
Even if you think about the user experience, engagement on YouTube is a different beast entirely. Instead of endless scrolling, viewers see a thumbnail, title and channel name before choosing to invest their time in a video. When they do watch, it's an immersiveexperience, with the sound on - viewers retain more information and feel a deeper personal connection with your brand. YouTube is the place to showcase a brand's identity and build a community of brand advocates.
YouTube represents a huge opportunity as very few brands have caught on to the success of the platform. Those that have cracked the formula keep investing - Skillshare, Squarespace, Audible and Epic Games are the market leaders. In contrast, many more brands have spent marketing budget on Facebook and Instagram. They are missing out on a world of in-depth engagement.
Of course I’m not saying you should abandon Instagram. Make your Instagram campaigns more effective. YouTube creators tend to have higher engagement rates than creators whose only presence is on Instagram, as they have a more personal and deeper relationship with their followers.
Partnering with these creators on cross-platform campaigns will make your spend go further, leading to a more authentic endorsement of your brand.