Influencer marketing recognizes the unique level of trust that exists between a brand’s target consumer and that consumer’s favorite blogger, podcaster, Facebook personality, etc. The power and reach of influencer marketing continues to grow with each passing year.
In 2015, a McKinsey study found that influencer marketing earned, on average, $9.60 for every $1 spent, whereas in 2014 the figure was $6.85 per $1 spent. To keep these types of returns growing, 2016 promises to bring about several new, innovative approaches to promoting sustained, profitable relationships between brands and key influencers. Here are five influencer marketing trends to consider in 2016.
A Changing of the Guards
Unlike 2015, which saw Twitter leading the way in influencer marketing, 2016 will see the rise of Instagram and YouTube as the preferred platforms of choice. The common denominator is visual content broadcasted in real time. The reason this particular type of content is so important can be explained by one word: engagement.
“Engagement” is a social media marketing metric that quantifies the level of interactivity associated with a given piece of shared content. When users “retweet,” repost, or otherwise share content with their own networks, this material is said to have been “engaged.” Engagement, as a marketing metric, is separate from “reach,” which is merely a quantification of how many parties are likely to see content posted by a particular influencer.
Visual content is shared much more prolifically than text-only content, so, for brands that want their message to ripple widely throughout the social media-sphere, visual content is key. Other social media platforms to watch that specialize in visual content in real-time include Periscope, Snapchat, Vine, and #fame.
You’re Going to See A lot of UGC Campaigns
The core genius of social media platforms is that the service simply provides the sharing space; it’s the users who provide all of the content. Marketers have recently capitalized on the unbeatable economy of user-generated content (UGC), by involving their most enthusiastic customers in promotional efforts.
Take, for instance, the cell phone accessory manufacturer Belkin, which debuted an interesting iPhone case with Lego studs mounted on its back. To promote their new Lego iPhone Case, Belkin invited users of the case to show off their unique Lego designs on Instagram, using the hashtag #LEGOxBelkin.
Advertisers are not going to turn down a chance at free publicity, and the effectiveness of campaigns like Belkin’s will undoubtedly result in a flood of similar UGC marketing campaigns in 2016 — many of them are sure to be quite successful.
Brand Ambassadors Will Be Deployed Far and Wide
Brand ambassadors are influencers who already possess a built-in credibility with a brand’s target audience. For example, the successful yoga apparel brand, LuLulemon Athletica, which spends very little on paid advertising, picks its brand ambassadors from among the most influential members of the Yoga community.
The dynamics of implementing a brand ambassador program in your marketing strategy can be tricky. Your ambassador is valuable to your brand because your target customer base already trusts them. So it benefits the brand to be quite deferential to the opinions and insights of the brand ambassador. This can be difficult because it requires brands to give up a little control.
Brands Will Exert Less Control Over Their Message
On the popular “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, host Joe Rogan’s self-articulated advertisements often take an ultra-casual tone. He’s blunt, random, occasionally profane, and, above all, he’s himself.
Do the company’s brand managers appreciate the rhetorical style Rogan uses to plug their products? Probably not, at least not all the time. But the same company’s sales managers do always appreciate the heaping revenues coming in from the mass of customers who use the promo code “Rogan” to save 10 percent at checkout.
2016 Will See a More Expensive Price Tag on Influence Marketing
A recent study by Tomoson shows that about 60 percent of marketers will spend more on influencer marketing in 2016. And, as we know from our Economics 101 class when demand increases, so does cost. Brand ambassadors, YouTube personalities, and Instagram celebs, among others, should expect a nice pay raise this year.
If you’re looking for a good reason to be optimistic about the future, influencer marketing may prove quite beneficial to general product quality levels, innovation, and overall consumer satisfaction. A successful influencer marketer must protect his or her authenticity, and is hence not likely to recommend products he or she doesn’t personally trust.
Therefore, with more brands looking to grow their influencer network, the quality, authenticity, and overall usefulness of advertising to the consumer should improve.