The influencer marketing landscape continues to evolve at such a rapid pace, we now have a whole new set of challenges and opportunities to take on. We asked 19 influencer marketing experts what we could expect for influencer marketing in 2017, and beyond. Learn where your focus should be, what changes are coming and some future trends to keep an eye on. The only constant in our industry is change, so stay current, and you’ll see some handsome returns on your marketing campaigns!
Summary: Quick Jump Menu
Influencer marketing will move from social and PR teams to digital teams as influencer content becomes the most valuable asset. Influencer content paired with deep analytics will be the most powerful medium powering paid, owned and earned media.
- Micro Influencers will steal the limelight
- More Cross Channel Analysis
- Stronger differentiation between paid influencer marketing vs organic influencer relations
- Increased focus on Employee Advocacy
- Maturing of influencer marketing tools
We believe 2017 is the year where brands finally start to feel as though if they’re not doing influencer marketing, they ought to be. The question of “what is influencer marketing?” will soon diminish and be replaced by “why aren’t we doing influencer marketing?” We expect brands who have explored the influencer marketing space before to pump more time, money and emphasis into it as they've seen the results it produces. In 2016, the majority of marketers spent between $25,000 – $50,000 per influencer marketing program. A recent survey carried out here reported that this figure will double to $50,000 – $100,000 per program in 2017- with 48% of respondents saying they’re going to increase their spend.
I predict 2017 will be the year of integration. We’ve seen influencer marketing rise from strength to strength over the last few years, but often as an isolated tactic. Influencers are popular because they understand your target market, they make content that resonates, and everyday they do what we only dream of as marketers - they get the audience to care. In order for your brand’s content to remain king, a new kind of creator will need to take the throne in 2017. This will be the year that marketers realise influencers have more to offer than just amplification - we will see influencers become a crucial part of integrated campaigns.
Two core elements will become more and more predominant in Influencer Marketing. First, a shift to micro-influencers. Our measurement of disclosed posts on Instagram show that over 90% of posts today are made by influencers with less than 100K followers. This will require automation and will also open the market to smaller brands and many more influencers than before.
2017 is going to be a big year for influencer marketing for a few reasons.
- Instagram will continue to dominate influencer market because they are more aligned with advertisers than Snapchat. (Swipe up to load links, View Transparency, Influencer audiences are already on Instagram)
- Influencer attribution will become more mainstream, right now people are running influencer campaigns without an expected ROI. This is rapidly changing as influencer budgets become more aligned with digital marketing spend and digital departments will be forced to show an ROI. (This is mostly looking at Instagram organic posts)
- Micro-Influencers will continue to rise and pave the way for performance-based pay. Big influencers are familiar with the standard pay to post, but micro-influencers are still learning how much money they can charge which gives advertisers an opportunity for pay for performance.
- Brands and established agencies keep moving their influencer marketing in-house: rather than working via vendors or marketplaces, brands and agencies will increasingly run their influencer marketing in-house
- Audience analytics become increasingly important: just as important as who is endorsing your brand, is the audience that is viewing that endorsement. Influencer audience analytics are now available and marketers are using them
- Influencer automation: as marketers bring their influencer marketing in-house, they are becoming more focused on achieving scale. This is achieved by selecting the right software partner
- ROI analysis: Influencer marketing is no longer the new kid in the block. Now, marketers will want to check that it can deliver a real ROI for their brand.
We're seeing a higher frequency of long term engagements, many influencers are signed to multi-month long contracts and campaigns are extending to be evergreen. Budgets are often larger than 2014 and 2015, with a number of brands spending $50k-$100k, which I expect to increase. Earned media value is becoming an increasing metric to measure ROI.
- There is a transition from editorial content to using multimedia. We see a constant decline of blogs performances in favor of pure social campaigns on Instagram, Snapchat and live video platforms. Millennials read less than previous generations which encourages bloggers to close their website to go on Youtube and post live videos and "Stories" - recently copied from Snapchat by Instagram - which are extremely popular. These vloggers do not create editorial content, they shoot movies about their lives, and so do brands
- Partnerships between influencers and brands are evolving. In the past influencers were provided a brief and they agreed to follow brands' process. In 2017 this is not true anymore. Some brands give their Snapchat credentials to influencers for a limited period of time (#SnapchatTakeover), other brands leave the entire creation process to influencers. The most famous influencers will be considered just like any other VIP, and brands will launch real celebrity endorsement programs with them.
Further shift to smaller influencers. Move away from self-serve to managed services and platforms. Engagement will be core metric. IG stories will be more popular with marketers than Snapchat. Plain old Instagram posts will remain king.
In 2017, more brands will look to hire influencers for branded Facebook Live series (not just one off videos, but scheduled streams). Brands need to drive traffic to their channels and create content that doesn't say 'buy my product.' Leveraging influencers to create content can humanize a brand to an extent and makes the brand more personal to consumers.
Influencer marketers will shift efforts deeper down the marketing automation funnel – and better learn to right-size their campaigns. Although egos with big vanity metrics will still be courted for awareness campaigns, niche influencers (mico-influencers) with smaller but more highly engaged followings will become much more valued for longer term ROI and activation.
If 2016 was the year that influencer marketing took off, 2017 will see brands embrace a more sophisticated approach. Automating the search for the right influencer will play a huge part here. For companies a key challenge has been finding influencers with the perfect level of engagement and brand fit. Brands don’t just want influencers who’ll reach their target audience, they want to be certain they’ve found an influencer they can trust to complement their values. Searching for appropriate influencers manually has fast become outdated. It’s time-consuming, ineffective and a waste of resource that could be better spent elsewhere.
Automation, which uses an algorithm to assess influencers’ suitability, streamlines this process significantly. Plus, it’s an approach that is scalable, robust and capable of generating significant cost-savings. Automation is central to our daily lives already – and it underpins a great deal of the technology we use without us even knowing it. Right now, as algorithms grow even more advanced, automation will become increasingly central to the way we do business. And for those new to influencer marketing in 2017, it will be a tremendous help.
Not all social impressions are equal! In 2017 influencer marketing will have moved beyond just an influencer's reach and audience size. It’s all about the magical alchemy of the 3 R’s of influencer marketing: relevance, relationships and reach.
- Relevance: 75% of brand decision-makers now value relevance over reach. Gone are the days of social media celebrities with huge followings sharing content that has no connection to that brand's market or message. Noise over impact. Consumers are wiser and can now quickly sniff out an endorsement deal, quickly losing their trust in both the brand and influencer! Rather than the scattergun approach, agencies/brands are putting more time and money into researching and identifying those relevant, engagement-driving influencers that are the perfect match to their audiences
- Relationships: relationship-driven marketing is something that has been missing in this new age of influencer marketing. At Vizified we develop more meaningful relationships with our Pinterest influencers who captivate their audiences and are trusted authorities in their niche. That personalization allows us to match brands with influencers that are truly knowledgeable, passionate and authentic in their area, and are seen as a trusted source
- Reach: Although engagement rate is undeniably important, we still work with influencers that have a large reach and generate huge impressions. But it’s all about balance, and putting relevance and relationships at the heart of a campaign will produce long lasting results worthy of an x10 return.
In 2017, micro-influencers will stake their claim. Marketers will start to engage influencers who have the same audience as their brand, rather than focusing on the amount of followers. This will allow audiences to become more important than the influencer, who in the end, are the purchasers of the product. Influencers will begin to tell the story in an organic way rather than being told what to post. This will allow influencers to develop a real relationship with the brand and will bridge the gap between online and offline. What does this mean? Marketers will leverage online influencers to spark offline action from consumers. The one TOP prediction from my team is that authenticity will REALLY develop in 2017. If marketers stop micro-managing influencers will tell stories from a place of truth and authenticity.
It needs to get easier from every perspective. Management to execution to measurement. People will realize that doing influencer marketing manually isn't as effective as using a "service provider" from the time it takes to find an influencer and building a relationship with that influencer to actually do work with the brand. Brands will wise up to audience size doesn't always equate to influence. Marketers will pay more attention to an influencer's audience and how the audience relates to the brand's audience. Influencer marketing will become more transactional, marketers will look for opportunities to substitute budget from AdWords and content syndication so that they can try influencer marketing.
In 2017 we will draw the line where influencer marketing splits between paid influencer endorsements and ads versus ongoing influencer relations. Building and managing influencer relations is where the market is headed because marketers will see a better return on authentic relationships over time. In order to see this return, enterprises need the ability to normalize processes, standardize KPIs and scale the practice. My prediction is that the influencer marketing best practices that emerge in 2017 will lead to massive scaling of the practice in 2018.
- While Instagramers and YouTubers continue to be in demand, it's the Facebookers and Live Performers (FB Live, Insta Live, Periscope) that will be most sought-after in 2017
- Micro-influencers will be the new influencers
- Long-term Association - treating influencer relationships like one-night stands isn't the best approach
- Influencer Marketing will go mainstream in 2017 - Both B2B and B2C businesses will allocate budget for IM. Also, Social Media and/or Corporate Communication team will own influencer programs this year as opposed to it being a one-off activity spearheaded by CXOs in 2016.
In 2017 expect a massive shift in content marketing with an overarching focus on influencers. Video and live streaming will continue its strong upward trend, primarily on the Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat channels. Newer platforms such as Twitch will thrive, while Twitter’s decline in popularity progresses.
Influencer marketing will evolve into modern methods of SEO strategy, as user-generated content (UGC) becomes a fast and effective way to gain search results.
Watch for a flood of traditional marketing agencies crossing over into the content-driven space. The overabundance of suppliers lacking adequate knowledge, will cut corners trying to compete, resulting in a tainted reputation for influencer marketing as a whole. Supply and demand of influencer cost-per-post will be driven so high that it will exceed the point of ROI.
FTC will continue raising the bar on restrictions and requirements that help everyday users differentiate between #ads and organic content.
First, we expect to see an increase in outbound activity from the truly professional influencers. Unlike their more junior counterparts, professionals will recognize the need for direct brand contacts and doing their own pitching. Passively waiting for opportunities will fall to those who don’t have the time or expertise to go out and find opportunities that best fit their content and audience. Second, influencers will begin publishing their rates publicly and we’ll see the market normalize. 33% of our users are already doing this and we expect these numbers to continue to rise. We anticipate that influencers will be able to self regulate with access to more data around what other influencers like them are charging. Brands will gain a better understanding of how to budget for influencer activations and campaigns. Lastly, we’re going to start see a variety of influencer talent getting bundled by agencies, networks and MCN’s for brand activations. The bundles will create significantly more value for the brand and the talent in equal parts. The campaigns will be much more diverse, engaging and interactive for the consumer as a result.