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 26 influencer marketing experts what we could expect for influencer marketing in 2020, 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!
Daniel Trösch - Fourstarzz Media
2019 was the first year, where more money was spent on digital than in traditional advertising. Will the influencer marketing industry in 2020 benefit from that increased budget? I definitely think so.
2020 will see a continuous shift towards micro and nano influencer marketing. Micro-influencers live the life or do things which the audience can identify with - it is not so far off their own life than the luxury life of a celebrity. The content tends to be more authentic, lifehacks more relevant and therefore more influential on buying decisions than the content of a celebrity.
Authenticity is more important than ever in 2020, as in 2019 press and Netflix series explained how brands and influencers are working together. This pressures both brands and content creators to more storytelling. The time of simple product placements is over. We will see longer capture texts on Instagram, more video content and better integrations in youtube or blogs (i.e. morning routines, etc.). Community building and long term relationships (brand ambassador programs) will support that trend and lead to a higher quality of content.
With the increase in budgets, there is increasing pressure on performance. Brands - small and enterprise customers - will, therefore, use more and more technology to discover, select and manage influencers based on data. Technology providers will follow the increasing demand for tools to manage micro-influencers at scale at a limited budget.
2020 will be another exciting year for the industry with a strong focus on bringing in professionalism, better processes, more transparency, and authenticity.
Sarah Levin Weinberg - Stellar
At Stellar we strongly believe 2020 will be the year of the Influencers Mix. It’s wrong to believe that there is just one type of influencer that will rule the game: different strategies, content channels, and influencers profiles can be employed and combined for a single brand.
There will be a rise in collaborating with both ambassadors for long-term, always-on programs and traditional influencers for short-term one-off campaign;
We will see more combination of the power of macro, micro and nano influencers for one unique project or different ones: macro-influencers provide reach and are the right choice for awareness campaigns, while macro and nano influencers are the perfect true cost-effective solution for engagement and conversions;
Brands will finally leverage the power of both human and virtual influencers - computer-generated content creators who are gaining popularity, especially on Instagram. According to a recent HypeAuditor's report, virtual influencers have almost three times more engagement than real influencers. This new trend could be a true game-changer in the industry as some brands will see in them a great opportunity to control the content, reduce management risk and lower budgets.
Nate Harris - CreatorIQ
Influencer marketing in the new year will focus on the maturation of meaningful data. Performance metrics that are tied to business results – like CTR, CPA, or transaction totals – will continue to displace signpost metrics that may or may not correlate to impactful outcomes. Social platforms themselves will continue to make waves (read: Instagram’s removal of likes).
1st-party data via authentication and attribution technology (like influencer link tracking) will become even more important to serious brands and agencies in 2020. Large companies will latch on to the idea of creating their own proprietary influencer network rather than renting saturated talent from marketplaces. Creators themselves will find that linking their accounts at the beginning of a campaign is now par for the course.
With truer numbers and meatier insights, influencer marketing will be more measurable against other marketing channels at all levels. And those who run the best campaigns will find their ROI justifies explosive expansion of their influencer marketing efforts.
Kristina Nikeenko - Zorka.Mobi
Influencer marketing is at the peak of its growth. Agencies and brands have to be creative in order to keep the high performance and build the trust of the target audience. What 2020 can possibly bring us?
- A slight shift from classic cooperations with influencers to key opinion customers. Our friends and colleagues are becoming new trendsetters.
- New technologies on organic traffic measurement will be created.
- China will partly open its doors for foreign advertisers.
- Platforms will design free data-driven tools (not just original marketplaces) in order to motivate brands to work with influencers (like TikTok just did https://creatormarketplace.tiktok.com/)
- Influencers will be paid on CPI/CPA/Revshare basis. Also, Affiliate Marketing platforms for influencers are to be created.
- All content is going to be under strict control. We’ll also face channels demonetization and policy changes.
Stephanie Stabulis - HireInfluence
- We will see a greater shift in brands that are co-collaborating to “create” something of value with influencers. Strategically, it won’t be so much focused on using the influencer as an endorsement for a brand, but instead about what the brand and influencer can create together for the audience. Brands will need to stick out and differentiate as influencer marketing is more in demand.
- Influencers will become more picky in the brand deals they take. Losing likes has shifted a huge focus to quality of content, expected both from the brand, and from an influencer’s audience. Influencers will have to give more time and attention to each brand deal.
- Due to demands for more quality of content, we will find influencer prices increasing in 2020. It will be really important for brands to consider the increase in quality demanding the increase in pricing - and the quality of content they are receiving from influencers in return. We find that when influencers produce content with more end-value to the influencers (emotional/personal connection, advice, inspiration, innovation) in collaboration with promoting a brand, brand sentiment is more positive and purchase consideration is greater.
- Brands will continue to place high demands on retrieving data to help qualify spend at all stages of an influencer marketing campaign. Data will be used to qualify potential influencers, as well as measure campaign performance. We will see brands start to integrate reporting in a way that better tracks customer’s journey’s online and offline.
- Brands will continue to bridge into creative collaboration with podcasts.
- Tik Tok will continue to grow as an influencer platform, dependent entirely on the platform offering more robust analytics to creators and brands.
- We will see that influencer campaigns will be less siloed and more complimentary to overall marketing themes, campaigns and efforts as brands continue to grow their marketing.
- More brands will continue to leverage influencer created content across more digital channels including advertising. We will start to see a mixed organic and paid influencer campaign become norm.
Mae Karwowski - Obviously
- The Year of the Brand Ambassador - 2020 is the year of the Brand Ambassador. We’re seeing more brands move to this model of relationship building because long-term is better for brands and influencers alike. Brands are establishing a network of content creators who are invested in the brand’s success and genuinely know and love their products, while also offering brands repeat exposure with the same audiences month after month. For influencers, posting about the same brand over a long period of time gives their sponsored content more authority and authenticity.
- Strategy is going to become everything - Growing budgets and rapid changes to platforms are quickly shifting the industry landscape. At the same time, brands are investing huge new budgets in influencer marketing; but with those budgets, we’re going to see more demand for optimization and long-term strategy. Only experts with the chops to stay ahead are going to succeed in the year to come.
- Diversity and inclusion - Influencer marketing has been an incredible catalyst for change in representation in advertising. Brands who don’t make this front and center in their 2020 culture and advertising do so at their own peril.
- GenZ Rising - This generation is coming of age, finding their voice, and creating trends in the process. We’ll see brands and marketers pay more attention to this demographic in 2020, from creating more content on TikTok to addressing Gen Z’s social values like sustainability and inclusivity.
Dan Seavers - Talkwalker
To counteract the risk of fake followers and opaque relationships, expect brands to move towards smaller and smaller influencers. Not only are they less likely to cause a major issue if the content is ill-received, but because of their highly nurtured audience, they'll usually drive a higher engagement rate than celebrity influencers.
Mathew Micheli - Viral Nation
True ROI measurement will continue to be integral and demanded much more from agencies, Tik Tok will continue its growth amongst the younger generation, Authenticity of an audience will continue to be demanded & Influencer Marketing will become a staple in a companies media mix
Jessica Butner - Go Fish Digital
In terms of the relationship between brands and influencers in 2020, long-term partnerships are going to become more of the norm rather than case-by-case campaigns. These partnerships can lead to more authenticity and higher conversion rates. As we know, consumers must have multiple touchpoints with a brand or a product before making a buying decision. With long-term partnerships, the influencer will be integrating the brand into their content more frequently and seamlessly, leading to more sales and loyal customer growth.
Marketers and brands are going to become savvier and more creative when it comes to increasing and measuring ROI. For example, we'll likely see more brands using retargeting ads or specialized email lists for influencer audiences. We'll also see unique brand content created for targeted audiences and specific influencers. And, we'll continue to see influencer marketing platforms fine-tune their reporting capabilities.
Finally, when it comes to the content that influencers are creating, we're going to see the most successful influencers spending more time getting personal in their captions, stories, and videos. Long-form captions allow the influencer to connect on a deeper level with their followers and achieve higher engagement.
Yuval Ben-Itzhak - Socialbakers
Influencer marketing will grow, not wither, as others have predicted.
Consumers are increasingly seeking out reviews and trusted voices when making purchasing decisions. This has created a huge opportunity for influencers and brands to team up to create authentic connections with audiences. According to our data, in the last year:
- Influencer sponsored ads grew by more than 150%
- The number of influencers using the #ad (to denote sponsorship) more than doubled
- Micro-influencers became more important and now comprise the majority of influencers (over 75% of all influencers in North America are micro-influencers).
- Large consumer brands in beauty, fashion, e-commerce, and auto leaned into influencer marketing in 2019 and found that their efforts drove business and moved the needle.
- Leading brands like Estee Lauder, Hugo Boss and Burberry have explicitly stated that they believe influencer marketing is playing a key role in driving their success on social media. Expect them to increase their investment in 2020 and help make influencer marketing a $10 billion industry by 2020.
Damian Keane - Ambassify
Recent experimentations on platforms to limit the visibility and measurement of engagement will cause marketers to think twice before allocating more budget to Influencer programs, as ROI will be difficult to calculate. Instead, customer advocacy programs that offer measurable ROI will be more favourable.
Eric Dahan - Open Influence
I believe the main trends we will see in the influencer industry in 2020 are as follows:
- advertisers will focus far more on bottom-funnel KPIs,
- the platforms will continue to solve for influencer fraud themselves rendering 3rd party solutions irrelevant,
- the platforms will continue to restrict API data and build more features that funnel money towards their own ad platforms- making paid social increasingly more relevant,
- Tik Tok - It's a fantastic platform that presents a ton of opportunity for creators and advertisers,
- creative will become a key differentiator between the decent campaigns and the great ones.
Bradley Hoos - The Outloud Group
As influencer marketing matures as an industry, we'll see more consolidation and an increased need for innovation and intelligent measurement. Influencer marketing platforms will decrease in number, boutique agencies will be pursued for their expertise, and brands will find themselves needing real solutions to measure ROI. Real thought leadership will be the key to brand success and allow marketers to capitalize on the nuanced opportunities across marketing platforms. The days of blindly posting Instagram influencer ads are officially behind us.
Tetiana Kutsa - YouScan
I can see Influencer Marketing in the plenitude of its power these days. But my prediction for 2020 is that nano-influencers will make a step ahead of well-known celebrities and industry leaders showing more impact on customers' brand perception. The challenge for marketers will be to find those nano-influencers and make the right connection in time. That means more marketers will delegate these tasks to social media listening tools or similar ones. Next year is all about native/integrated ads rather than explicit promotion.
Thibaud Clement - Loomly
2020 will be the year of brand maturity, where marketing teams of all sizes focus on brand governance, brand integrity & brand alignment. This means that brands will do three things. First, they will focus on collaborating with influencers who share their values, giving priority to quality over quantity. Second, brands will build longer-term relationships with these carefully-selected influencers — rather than one-time campaigns: think co-development & cross-promotion. Last but not least, brands will include influencers to their workflows, inviting them to their in-house collaboration tools and syncing influencer marketing efforts with social media and content marketing actions. We would not be surprised if some of the best influencers were to graduate from external partners to in-house consultants.
Jim Tobin - Carusele
Agencies and tools that can measure meaningful business results will thrive, while those that are simply connecting influencers with brands will fade away. The maturation of influencer marketing in many ways mirrors how social media marketing grew from 2007 – 2012. It moved from interesting and buzzworthy to a driver of business results and as it did so, the amount of marketing dollars invested grew by billions.
What we’ve found over the last several years is that it is possible to measure sales driven by influencer marketing at retail or online if the program is set up correctly. That’s making influencer marketing more appealing to the C-suite, which is where the budget is managed.
Chris Parnell - Kairos Group
The social media influencer landscape had a bit of a PR problem last year, where there was widespread mistrust amongst brands due to influencer fraud. This is quickly being overcome by increased transparency from agencies: providing clear empirical data and evidence around all campaigns. We are also seeing a crack-down on fake followers as technology advances which will help in forging authentic partnerships with credible influencers.
2020 will be the year of rebuilding trust in the influencer, as brands work with true talent and authentic influencers above those with a huge following. Although authenticity is currently a bit of a buzz-word in the world of influencer marketing, it is also the key to rebuilding trust between brands and influencers.
Danielle Wiley - Sway Group
More and more marketers are looking for real ROI with influencer marketing, which means measurement tools and industry benchmark data points from agencies are going to be more important than ever. Vanity metrics are going by the wayside, with people realizing that real engagement is far more valuable than subscriber or follower counts.
We’re also seeing brands being less interested in jumping on the latest youth-oriented influencer trends, in favor of agencies and influencers who are tapped into lucrative consumer markets like moms, older millennials, and Gen X/boomers. Influencer marketing is growing up, and the notion that it’s solely a young person’s game is getting as outdated as yesterday’s fidget spinner.
Nicla Bartoli - The Influencer Marketing Factory
TikTok will take over most of the social media traction. We are seeing how influencers are migrating or at least opening an account there. Given the fact that Instagram is now trying to lower organic reach, influencers are looking for other social media that provide good reach and traction and one of these is TikTok.
Paul Johnson - Lumanu
In 2019 measuring performance and ROI of influencer was done by early adopters, in 2020 we will see mass adoption of influencer marketing evolving to influencer advertising and a true performance media channel. This will be achieved through wide adoption of paid media to distribute content via Branded Content Tool and advertising access.
Influencers are going to break out content creation from usage rights in agreements and perpetual content rights are going to significantly decrease. Influencers are starting to realize there are issues with granting perpetual rights to brands using their likeness.
Timothy Armoo - Fanbytes
My major prediction is that influencer marketing will become on par with traditional paid social. Brands will be able to turn on campaigns and turn them off being able to use custom audiences and lookalike audiences using first-party influencer data. This is the next level of influencer marketing and exactly what needs to happen in order for it to move beyond just being another line on the media planning sheet. This subsequently means that about a third of influencer marketing companies are going to die and we're already seeing this beginning to happen. No longer will the old way of simply matching people with a large number of likes and followers be seen as the gold standard but going deeper and treating it as a repeatable scalable performance channel is going to be crucial.
Gil Eyal - HYPR
Social networks will start introducing their own influencer marketing solutions. Data will become less accessible and brands will become more sophisticated, requiring stronger performance evidence in order to work with influencers.
Anna Meyfarth - Collabary by Zalando
- TikTok will gain more relevance as a channel
- Performance based pricing will increase
- Rise of virtual influencers
Amandine Henrard - Upfluence
At Upfluence, we believe that influencer marketing thrives when there is an ample amount of trust and transparency. We have no doubt that these values will be the standard for influencer marketing in 2020 - and in order for that to happen, I expect four big trends this year:
- Smaller influencers, more specifically micro and nano-influencers, niche influencers from diverse backgrounds, your very own customers, employees, and friends. These influencers can better represent your brand, have a higher engagement rate, are more accessible, and are easier to source than ever.
- Longer relationships so that you don’t stop after a one-and-done post. Instead, the collaboration extends itself into an authentic relationship, where trust is nurtured between brands, influencers, and the audience.
- We all knew about the FTC’s influencer disclosure guidelines in 2019, and I’m expecting more transparency requirements in 2020 and the years to come. Strict policies are important, because it reinforces the much-needed transparency within the industry and protects customers from disingenuous influencer marketing practices.
- Influencer marketing can be intimidating when there is not enough data (read: the “fake followers” crisis, vanity metrics, and overall not knowing how to efficiently track campaign performances.) 2020 is the year where businesses utilize smarter tools to achieve deeper and richer datasets, in order to efficiently maximize their influencer marketing effort.