11 Influencer Marketing Trends to Track in 2019
Year–over–year, marketers continue to allocate more budget to influencer marketing. In 2019 we are seeing the biggest YOY jump yet, with an estimated $2B more put toward this channel than in 2018. What trends are driving the increase this year? Here are 11 that FleishmanHillard’s social & innovation team is tracking now.
1. The Rise of the Nano-influencer.
A nano-influencer, with smaller reach than a micro, has an uber-dedicated audience of about 1,000 people who are likely to take action. Brands are taking notice and seeing the opportunity to exchange product for content as opposed to executing high-dollar contract-based deals. It’s important to remember a nano-influencer, even if not compensated with cash, still has to disclose the relationship with the brand, as per FTC guidelines.
2. Amazon and Affiliates.
There is no greater direct tie to using influencers to drive and track sales than via affiliate links. E-commerce brands will explore their own affiliate programs, while other influencers will drive more to their Amazon storefronts and swipe-ups tying content directly to purchase. Amazon controls 50% of all U.S. e-commerce sales today. Watch out, Instagram. Amazon may become the next big influencer platform.
3. Value vs. Cost.
When an influencer states their rate as $5,000, how do you know that’s their value? What another brand is willing to pay doesn’t necessarily constitute his/her value. Continued evaluation of price versus results will further clarify the nebulous space of influencer price tags. Brands and agencies will become better appraisers and negotiators.
4. Blogs are Dying.
Short-form dominates long-form. Swipe-ups drive conversion. Influencers congregate in Instagram; their IG Live and Stories draw in their followers. Just as consumers get their information in shorter and shorter bites (even headlines), so influencer content will become more and more snackable. OK, blogs aren’t dead yet, but it’s increasingly harder to get followers to click through from social to any website, including blogs. At the same time, Instagram has its own potential issues. Brands will need to keep an eye on how Instagram’s algorithm could start to negatively impact influencer content performance in the platform.
Influencer work should never be simply about reaching the influencer’s existing audience, but targeting the content to look-alike third-party audiences and optimizing it based on performance. More whitelisting and usage rights will be included in contracts up front. We’ll see more influencer content used in A/B testing. The total value an influencer gave a brand will be measured by a combined score of her owned posts’ performance plus the performance of her content when used in paid social.
6. Video Variety.
Video is king in social media, and especially with influencers. Their engagement rates are driven up by in-feed and Story video views. We will see brands get better at directing and measuring quality influencer video, and working with more video creators across platforms. This also will require more investment by the brands. For example, YouTube creators, by nature of their production and editing time, demand higher rates than other types of influencers. And, who knows, IGTV may even (finally) start to take off.
7. Fighting Fakes.
From purchasing fake followers to faking sponsored posts, fraud abounds in this industry. It is imperative to make offers to influencers based not on their reach, or even engagement rates, but on the verified authenticity of the audience. How many of their followers are verified real people as opposed to bots? More brands and agencies will adopt advanced analytics as best practice and use proven tools to help.
Brands are trying to move away from the one-and-done to more consistent posts that increase followers’ trust that the influencer truly believes in the product/service. Data reinforces that the more often an influencer posts about the same brand/product, the more her audience trusts the endorsement. 2019 will bring more sponsored series posts over a length of time, and more contracted brand ambassadorships.
9. Measuring More (and earlier).
Measurement should never come just at the end of an influencer campaign – data should book-end every campaign. More up-front quantitative and qualitative analysis will further refine the right fit and best performers before campaigns even launch. At the end, influencers will be weighted to determine who individually provided the most value. In fact, FleishmanHillard has developed a proprietary weighting model to pit a campaign’s influencers against each other to determine value in order. Only the most valuable will continue to hear from us with new offers.
10. Earned is not Dead.
There are still creative ways to work with influencers on an earned basis, but there must be some creative value exchange, in terms of products, experiences, or creative assets provided to the influencer. There is still no such thing as free influencer promotion. And link-backs still do not equate to compensation.
11. Shorter Exclusivity.
Category/competitive exclusivity timeframes are getting shorter. Often brands want six to 12 months. But as little as a week or two is expected by the influencer; longer than that and the brand should expect to pay more.