Recently, I responded to a HARO callout for influencer marketing experts to share their opinion of where the influencer marketing industry would be in the next several years. The full article “Ask The Thought Leaders: What’s The Future Of Influencer Marketing?” was published originally on the Future of Everything. You can find the full article below.
Although it didn’t always require social media, smartphones, and selfies, influencer marketing has been around for 100s of years in one form or another. Here in the US, you could make a strong argument that Aunt Jemima was one of the original influencers. The future of influencer marketing, however, is all about social media and engagement… Aunty J is no longer the prototype.
According to the 2016 Influencer Marketing Report, 84% of brands already have an influencer marketing strategy in place, and 50% of brands plan to increase their IM spending in 2017. While it’s clear that influencer marketing is growing, what’s not so clear to those of us on the outside is what it’s growing into. So, in the hopes of shedding some light on that question, we asked a group of industry experts…
What’s The Future Of Influencer Marketing?
Here’s what they had to say…
Derek Miller, Content Marketing Strategist at CopyPress
“In 10-15 years technology may make influencer marketing obsolete. Influencer marketing works right now because trust for a brand is disseminated from influencer to consumer via video, text, or some other communication medium. It’s powerful because a consumer can vicariously gain information or become familiar with a new brand. I wouldn’t be surprised if VR, AR, or some other innovative tech provides a more invigorating way for consumers to interact with new brands, thus limiting or eliminating the value of influencer marketing.”
Pax Bhati , Senior Manager at EY
“Influencer marketing has changed the way we share, buy and review products. In the future how influencer marketing will be is listed down below:
- Relationship with a social influencer will be a major key. The way influencer will share and review the particular product, the more commonly available the product will be among people.
- UGC is important to increase brand reach.
- Contents of the product will be available to the user according to his activities and emotions.
- Influencer in cross-channel measurement will increase.
- Influencers marketing tools will become more mature and it can take more analytical decisions to predict more accurately.
- Authentic influencers demand will increase.”
Steve Pritchard, Business Consultant for Ben Sherman
“Building long lasting relationships with social media influencers is already becoming important, and as time goes on, it will become vital for companies to ensure success in influencer marketing.
Brands should find influencers who believe in their products and their message. The success of brands will depend substantially on whether they can build relationships with these people, who can give them great exposure over social media and videos. Millennials put a great deal of faith and stock in the opinion of these social media influencers, whose reviews are carrying more and more power in how companies are represented.”
Brandon Doyle, CEO & Founder of Wallaroo Media
“Influencers will always be important channel to utilize in marketing and advertising campaigns. Influencer marketing is definitely trending more towards video content, and is heavily focused on experiences.
Millennials love experiences and video content, and influencers are shaping their purchasing decisions use those mediums. As influencer marketing evolves, and as the technology improves and becomes more mainstream, augmented and virtual reality will become a large part of the space. Consumers will want to further experience what the influencers are talking about, and AR/VR will allow that to happen.”
Jacqueline Ryan, Manager of Integrated Marketing for YumEarth
“Eventually, the communications world will really understand and treat influencers as actual brands. Collaborations will be just that, mutually beneficial partnerships with traditional brands using influencers as means to distribute their content and messages. Looking further ahead, I believe the influencers who have done an exceptional job of creating a cohesive brand will be bought up by, or invested in by, more traditional media companies. While influencers are currently spreading out the influence of traditional media companies, I predict that eventually media companies will put their resources behind the influencers who match their outlets. For example, Hearst, may put money behind beauty and fashion and lifestyle influencers, making them a continuation of some of their top publications and in return handle the business aspect of the influencer.”
David Geer, Market Influencer & Principal of Geer Communications
“In 10- to 15- years, the marketing industry will increasingly create and nurture—rather than discover and exploit—market influencers who can transfer social media idol worship to passion for a brand. These brand ambassadors will translate insights gained through social listening into corrective measures for brand behavior and messaging, as well. The industry will mold charismatic customer magnets who love people, listen empathically, and respond harmlessly. Market influencers who have these skills and niche product and communications expertise will be most desirable for marketers. An ability to hold multiple, rapid, high-volume social media conversations related to the brand will be crucial.”
Travis Atkinson, Marketing Team Leader at Petplan Australasia Ptd Ltd
“We’ve seen a big shift from desktop users to mobile users and it’s no surprise that majority of consumers spend more time on social media than they do actually texting or calling. It seems as if everyone hears about new products, businesses or even viral videos through social media and then they tell their friends about it. Then that friend is inspired to tell another friend and so on and so forth. According to this study word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. That makes a big difference. Today, consumers can easily detect ads and they’re smart enough to know not to click on it. So, in terms of the future, I think businesses shouldn’t even mess with paid advertising and should focus more on influencer marketing and creating quality content that’s gradually shared by users; not directly forced in their face.”
David Chon, Director of Influencer Marketing at Hawke Media
“Authenticity was lost. As influencers take on deals from multiple brands throughout the years, often with competing brands, every brand is now considered the best. A perfect example is when Selena Gomez, touting 120 million IG followers, just recently signed on to represent Coach after having been an ambassador for Louis Vuitton, a distinctually different brand.
The future of influencer marketing will see brands partnering with influencers for much longer contracts that include exclusivity. While this may already be the case for higher-tiered influencers that have already hit stardom, we’ll see smaller brands partnering with mid-tier influencers in the same fashion. This, in turn, will lead to brands releasing more lines of products/services under the names of influencers as revenue share models become the norm.”
Jesse Noyes, Senior Director of Marketing at Upserve
“The future of influencer marketing lies in a conscious shift from talking TO influencers, to talking AMONG influencers in an attempt to provide 360 degree engagement — even if your brand is not directly a part of the conversation. As an example, Upserve, a restaurant technology platform is launching a community website in order to create a space for everyone in the restaurant industry to be heard. We recognize that our industry is really local and so we can’t just go after celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain or foodies. We have to look at influencers in specific regions/cities and engage them.
While we’ll still provide insights, data, and other forms of traditional content marketing on the site, the driving purpose will be to host a new kind of community for industry to converse openly with one another, with transparency and candor, without the influence of outside advertisers.”
NikhilhMakwana, Founder of BforBlogging.com
“As the acceptance of internet and social media in our daily lives, this new era of marketing has now emerged with influencer marketing. This marketing strategy is an essential part of the everyday marketing mix. In this internet marketing era, influencer marketing is the next evolution of social media marketing. With the authentic storytelling, it helps brands become more human via connecting them with consumers.
Influencers and social media are now already changed the way they share, sell, buy, and review any service or product. And many brands now used to rely on market share to turn a profit. The young generation is now emerging more and more, and influencers like us are impacting customer’s buying and evolving methodology. So basically the future of influencers marketing is ravishing, and in very near future this marketing will grow more than now.
But to keep this marketing strategy efficient and to reach to its true potential consumers, influencers marketing requires to update its definition, methodologies, justification and metrics to concentrate more on doing new things which help to unlock the value.”
Amber R. Zent, VP & Director of Social Media at Marcus Thomas LLC
“In the wake of recent influencer-centric controversies like Kendall Jenner’s starring role in the Pepsi commercial flop, or the slew of models/actresses/social tastemakers who endorsed the laughable Fyre Festival, influencers will no longer feel comfortable aligning themselves with whatever brand, campaign or event meets only their compensation requirements. The way brands vet potential influencers for their campaign will become commonplace for influencers on the other side of the project. They’ll start being selective.
For successful influencers, the potential impact on their own brand has always been a consideration, but because influencer credibility is being challenged so publicly, the what ifs exacerbated in today’s social sphere will start to outweigh dollar signs. The winner in all this may be microinfluencers, who have smaller reach, but typically garner higher-quality engagement among fans and followers. And as brands are forced in the next few years to view influencers as more than just another paid media vehicle, we’ll get back to the roots of influencer marketing and back on course.”
Liz Holmquist, Social Media Manager and Head of Social Media Marketing at QNY Creative
“Influencer marketing will shift towards the needs of Generation Z. Generation Z, is much more engaged with technology, expects more in terms of quality of life and product, and is extremely impatient. That being said, we will be marketing to a generation who has grown up living an Instagram double-life, a counter-culture where young people have one Instagram page for their friends, and one for everyone to see: a Finstagram and an Instagram. These people have been served ads their entire life and have a strong aversion to feeling that they are being “sold” something. In order to stay relevant, influencers will need to change their narrative from obviously endorsing products to suggesting and proving its value. I believe the key will be the illusion of choice, that Generation Z is choosing what they are seeing and then choosing what they are buying instead of being told with abrasive ad or “#ad placements.”
Laura Hoffman , Marketing Executive at Mutual Materials Company
“The future of Influencer Marketing is both expansive and bumpy. Ten plus years from now it will be called something else, possibly merged Customer Advocacy Marketing as a knit rope of something stronger.
Similar to how marketing automation empowers a path for digital stalking and unwanted email, the rise of influencers with audiences willing to endorse products has the power to both help and hurt. Helping bring brand awareness to new audiences while hurting by filling media channels with insincerity. This is the business side of Influencer Marketing, when either the Influencer or the company is doing this simply for their own personal/brand fame or financial benefit. It’s not heart felt, but motivated by personal gain and that part of the deal is not transparent to the end audience.
While the future of Influencer Marketing is growth, hopefully it merges with Customer Advocacy Marketing… how about Customer Influence Marketing?”
Camille Schmidt , Founder of Blanc Communications
“Ever since I entered the public relations field post-college, influencer marketing has been a trend that has reached unsustainable heights. While I love to work with bloggers and celebrities, I believe in the future that ONLY the influencers with proven track records of pushing sales will be able to maintain their premium fees. Currently, because the data on influencer marketing is solely based on perceived reach, the ROI is not always worthwhile for cash-strapped fashion and lifestyle brands. With the FTC cracking down on a gifted and sponsored content, I believe influencers will have a harder time convincing their followers to purchase the items they’re pushing.”
David Mitroff, CEO & Founder of Piedmont Avenue Consulting, Inc.
“The influencer marketing right now is still fresh, because brands and companies have not perfected prioritizing influencer outreach in their PR operations. It takes a very informed and involved individual to be able to coordinate the right partnerships and projects between influencers and the company.
10-15 years from now, we can expect to see influencer marketing more commonplace as companies stray away from partnering with big name celebrities, which costs them more, and collaborate with smaller name public figures, such as socialites from social media or people that gained fame from viral media. There will also be more jobs created to facilitate these partnerships as well as the legal and logistical aspects. Consumer patterns will adjust from trends being controlled from celebrities to trends set by the community, including smaller name influencers.”
Ryan Farley , Co-Founder of LawnStarter Lawn Care
“Right now, I think of influencer marketing in two categories. First is the ‘pay-for-play’ variety, where you pay a fee to a blogger, Instagrammer, or Youtube celebrity to drop an endorsement, which is usually accompanied by a disclosure. I think this will continue, but lose it’s effectiveness over time as people are able to sense the difference.
The second form is more of a true brand endorsement, in which an influencer genuinely advocates for a product. It may manifest itself in blog posts or on a ‘testimonials’ page such as Brian Balfour’s placement on www.growthgeeks.com.
In my opinion, this is the only long-term, scalable influencer marketing channel, and it relies on a couple things. First, making a product that is so good an influencer is willing to put their reputation on the line for you. Secondly, maintaining genuine, long-term relationships with influencers.”
Dicky Phillips, SEO Strategist with CF Search Marketing
“Influencer marketing has quickly become a necessary strategy for digital marketing and traditional advertisers, in order to see brands flourish in a very diluted digital age.
With how much content is being shared without aim or purpose most consumers have quickly become overwhelmed by failed and ill-targeted attempts to influence their purchase power. The true future of influencer marketing isn’t just recognizing who your key influencers are, but also discovering brand identity, re-branding or more importantly, inventing your own growth hack.
“Growth Hacking” is the absolute future of influence marketing, and is quickly becoming a means of success for many start-ups and brands looking for quick and exponential revenue growth.
The only challenge with growth hacking is figuring one out for your business or brand. Some agencies have started to go as far as hiring unique individuals, with the sole purpose of trying to engineer their own growth hack strategy.”
Teresa Walsh, Marketing Executive at Cazana.com
“Most of us are aware now that most branded products that appear on celebrities twitter or Instagram are being supplied by that company for coverage and the credibility will eventually waver as we become immune to it like everything else in the marketing world. This will soon lead to a shift in focus from top class celebrities to everyday real life people.
This is already starting to happen and one recent example is Zanna Van Dijk, who is a fitness blogger in London and who is now working with big brands like Alpro and Adidas. She doesn’t have quite the same following or influence as Kylie Jenner but she is more believable.”