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Influencer marketing has garnered a lot of interest over the last few years. In fact, in the last three years, the number of Google searches for “influencer marketing” has increased by 1500%. This shows that the future of influencer marketing is ripe with opportunities.
Image via Influencer Marketing Hub
As more brands become aware of the benefits of influencer marketing, they are willing to invest more money into it.
What To Expect From the Future of Influencer Marketing
A survey by Influencer Marketing Hub revealed that 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget this year. According to another study, influencer marketing is set to become a $10 million market by 2020.
It’s clear that influencer marketing is here to stay. But what does the future of influencer marketing hold? Just like all other marketing strategies, it’s bound to change with new technologies and trends.
Let’s take a look at a few changes in the industry that we can anticipate in the future.
1. Emphasis on Micro-Influencers
Brands have begun to realize that sometimes less is more. The success of any influencer marketing campaign doesn’t solely ride on the number of followers.
Many influencers buy fake followers, so their engagement rate is low. On the contrary, micro-influencers have less followers but they work to maintain personal bonds with their audience. Therefore, their posts get higher engagement.
Unlike popular influencers who have a huge following on social media, micro-influencers are more reasonably priced. Micro-influencers will rule the future of influencer marketing.
Image via Instagram
Coca Cola is one of the many brands to have used this influencer marketing strategy to promote their brand.
They partnered with micro-influencer, Yannick Merck, to showcase a cold Coke or their merchandise on his worldly travels. As a Coke ambassador, he often shares photos of himself holding a Coke can or wearing a Coke sweater.
2. Emergence of Influencer Networks
The future of influencer marketing is all about the collective. Instead of individuals, marketers may begin to group influencers based on whom they are associated with. After all, influencer marketing is about associating with the right people.
If you’re related with an influencer, your brand reputation grows based on how much authority they have. Likewise, an influencer’s reputation depends on which brands they endorse. It’s like creating power centers of influence for each niche.
Each of the influence centers are linked to each other because many niches overlap. Take for example a brand that sells sunscreen lotion.
For such a brand, the obvious choice would be to reach out to influencers in the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle niches. However, they could also reach out to influencers in the travel and sports industry.
The future of influencer marketing places an emphasis on the interconnectedness of different niches. The influencers who possess the power to transfer ideas between different groups will be the most influential ones.
3. Increase of In-House Influencer Programs
As more brands realize the importance of collaborating with influencers, they are seeking new ways to work with them. At the same time, they realize that building long-term associations with influencers is essential for better marketing.
That’s why the future of influencer marketing lies in in-house influencer programs. Instead of content distribution, in-house influencer marketing focuses on building relationships with people. This arrangement also allows brands to work more closely with influencers.
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“We see this as developing a relationship with our employees. This gives them an incentive to be proud of Macy’s, to make some money and to come to work more energized each day,” a Macy’s executive told Digiday.
As a part of the program, Macy’s employees receive a commission for each sale made. When employees are accepted into the program, they get access to most of the store’s products for free. Because the program has been a huge success, Macy’s is looking to make it bigger this year.
In-house influencers bring loyalty and a sense of relatability that other influencers can’t match. Therefore, their endorsements seem more authentic and genuine. These are the qualities that will shape the future of influencer marketing.
4. Stricter Guidelines For Advertising
In the past, influencer marketing got a bad reputation for being unethical and immoral. Taking note of the unfair practices in the industry, the Federal Trade Commission sent out official warning letters.
The FTC also issued guidelines to protect the best interests of consumers. These guidelines make it mandatory for influencers to disclose their relationships with brands. When an influencer receives a product for free or they are writing a paid review, they need to disclose it. Because of this, it’s common to see influencers using #paid and #sponsored on their posts.
The process of making policies to make influencer marketing more transparent has already begun. In the future, influencer marketing will focus more on keeping the trust of consumers high. So, we can expect stricter guidelines for influencer marketing.
5. The Rise of CGI Influencers
The entry of CGI influencers into the influencer marketing industry has changed the way brands view collaborations. For the uninitiated, CGI influencers are influencers who are created with the help of computer-generated imagery.
Manufactured in the virtual world, programmers and designers work for hours to create each scene from a CGI influencer’s life. On their social media channels, CGI influencers can be seen posing at exotic locations.
Image via Instagram
Riding in on the curiosity that CGI influencers evoke, many luxury brands have started collaborating with them. Lil Miquela, one of the most popular CGI influencers, has already partnered with Calvin Klein, Diesel, and Prada.
Similarly, Shudu, another CGI influencer, has modelled for Fenty Beauty, Balmain, and had also been featured in Cosmopolitan magazine and Vogue Australia.
CGI influencers are becoming increasingly popular for brands because they allow brands to completely control how their products are advertised. The unpredictability that comes with real-life influencers can be avoided.
So, where is the future of influencer marketing going with CGI influencers? Adam Rivetz, co-founder of the influencer marketing company #paid, has an interesting take on the future of influencer marketing. He believes that influencers will use CGI technology to create their digital avatars.
“They could make a duplicate version where it’s like, ‘This is my real-life feed where I post certain things, but then here’s my avatar of myself where maybe I work with different brands or do more risqué things,’” Rivetz said in an interview.
He added that we might get to see games and apps involving CGI influencers.
Emily Groom, accredited with the creation of CGI influencer, Lil Wavi, is also optimistic about the future of influencer marketing.
“Soon we’ll see digital models walk down the runway through holograms as we dig way deeper into the future. There’s so much potential and I’m excited to see where it goes,” she told VICE.
Whether these predictions come to fruition or not, it’s for sure that the future of influencer marketing is ripe with opportunities. Brands will need to adapt to the changing trends and strategies to stay relevant in the influencer marketing industry in the future.