While no one can say what the future of influencer marketing will be with absolute certainty, it’s possible to look to the past and what’s succeeding today to get an idea of what the future holds.
In the early days of social media, who could have foreseen that it would look the way it does today? During the earliest years of its existence, Facebook was notably against having marketing or ads. All that’s changed, though, and today, the site has tools in place to make influencer marketing easier than ever.
Of course, the rise of influencer marketing has a lot to do with a shift in trust. People trust traditional ads less and less these days, and they’re putting less and less trust in the traditional pillars of power. That’s created more space for influencers to rise and be influential.
But what happens as influencer marketing continues, and more and more people give it a try?
The Future of Influencer Marketing
How Influencer Marketing Has Evolved So Far
Today’s influencer marketing looks similar to the tactics used a few years ago, but there are some crucial differences.
One big change that we’ve seen so far is a shift in terms of who is an influencer. Once upon a time, the thinking was that the best influencers were those with millions of followers. As Convince and Convert notes, back in 2008, influencer and celebrity might as well have been the same word.
These days, that’s not the case, as marketers have come to understand that fame doesn’t necessarily equate to influence. The influencers who tend to have the greatest rates of engagement aren’t the big-name ones, but the ones with smaller, more devoted followings.
The demand for authenticity has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of the micro-influencer. A famous celebrity is typically more likely to promote any product if it means cash. A micro-influencer who has more of a connection to his or her followers is likely to be pickier about the brands he or she works with.
The top two considerations most creators have when deciding to work with a brand or not is how well that brand fits with their content/image, and whether their audience would find it interesting or relevant, according to the 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE).
Strategies for The Future of Influencer Marketing
Using micro-influencers is just one way that influencer marketing has changed over the years. Today’s influencer marketers and the influencer marketers of the future are also much more likely to use data to inform their campaigns, and to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Successful marketers are also likely to take a multi-pronged approach to marketing, according to a report from Salesforce. The report revealed that more than 60 percent of marketers have focused on expanding efforts in marketing across a range of devices and channels. The marketers who had the most success were nearly 13 times more likely to coordinate marketing across multiple channels than less successful marketers.
Earlier in 2017, the FTC reminded influencers of the importance of disclosing their relationships with brands. As disclosure becomes more and more of an issue and the FTC continues to crack down on it, social media platforms are becoming more likely to offer tools to make disclosure easy. Likewise, influencer marketing platforms are also offering one-step disclosure options for creators and brands.
Technology in the Future of Influencer Marketing
Another way influencer marketing evolved over the years is it’s more data-centric. Influencer marketing software can now tell you way more about your projects and posts than before, such as how many people are clicking, who’s engaging with a post, which influencers are a great fit for a campaign, and so on.
At the forefront of that technology is artificial intelligence (AI). According to Salesforce, AI will grow by more than 50 percent in the coming months. AI doesn’t necessarily mean robots or androids. Instead, it refers to computer programs that are able to learn as they operate, adjusting to changes and learning from their mistakes. AI is already all around you, and savvy influencer marketing companies are starting to catch on.
One way that AI is playing a role in influencer marketing is by allowing marketers to quickly find content created by influencers in a particular platform. AI can also help you find the right influencers for a campaign or program. The use of intelligent machines will speed up the time it takes to put together an influencer marketing campaign, and can ultimately save marketers a considerable amount of time and money.
Companies That Are Guiding the Future of Influencer Marketing
The future can be exciting. And, as AdWeek warns, it seems that everyone is jumping on the influencer marketing AI bandwagon. Some companies are also simply jumping on the influencer marketing bandwagon, full stop. But not every company offers the same level of service, or even the same quality of AI as the others.
It’s important to review the company’s history and reputation when you choose an influencer marketing platform or program. Take a look at its plan for the future. The visionary companies at the top of their field are likely to be leading the way into the future.