10 influencer marketing trends to watch in 2018

In just a few years,
influencer marketing has gone from an ancillary expense in many brands’ online marketing budgets
to its very own digital advertising category.

As we look forward to 2018, the influencer marketing space is expected to
broaden its scope, extend its reach, and strengthen its impact. While the
growing landscape brings with it many exciting opportunities, new
challenges will also arise.

With marketers looking to measure ROI, not to mention the changes in
federal regulations, the emergence of
fake influencers and more, the coming year looks to have big implications for both
influencers and the brands that partner with them.

Influencer marketing continues its meteoric rise.

There is no shortage of success stories in influencer marketing, yet some
businesses are only now realizing what they’ve been missing out on.

While there was a
90-fold increase in Google searches for the term “influencer marketing” from 2013 to 2016,
interest around the topic has doubled in the
first nine months of 2017. During the same time, searches for “Instagram influencer” have more than tripled.

The reasons for the growing interest
are many, but a key principle underlies all: Influencer marketing is
working for all types of brands.

Consistent with year-over-year estimates, businesses are expected to
more money toward influencer marketing in 2018.

As the influencer marketplace gets more saturated, however, brands without
a clearly defined strategy will find it
difficult to break through. Looking at ways to maximize the impact of campaigns, as well as
differentiating themselves from their competition, will become key for


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2. Influencer demand and value are increasing.

As demand for influencers increases, so do the value of their services.
Scott Mathison, an influencer in the
fitness industry with over 200,000 followers on Instagram, says that brands approach him
every day, asking that he hawk their wares, but he only considers working
with companies whom he feels are the right fit for him and his followers.

Mathison admits that as his value and costs have increased, so have his
rates. Mathison is no anomaly isn’t alone in increasing his prices. Many
online personalities are starting to recognize their value as creators, and
businesses would be wise to budget for their services.


As investment increases, measuring KPIs & ROI is vital.

While many companies understand the positive impact influencer marketing
can have on their brand, some businesses are still nervous about what they
perceive as nebulous or anecdotal results.

Fortunately, there are many strategies and techniques that can be
implemented to help businesses track key performance indicators (KPIs) and
return on investment (ROI).

In a
2016 influencer marketing case study, we examined influencer marketing engagement at the Coachella Music and
Arts Festival by analyzing the results from campaigns by three different
companies: American Express, Revolve Clothing Co., and Live Lokai. Each
brand tapped a variety of influencers to help promote their individual
campaigns, and engagement was tracked through monitoring of total audience,
likes, comments, and hashtag usage.

In the end, each campaign was able to reach tens of millions of people,
driving engagement for the brands both on and off the festival’s site.

Tracking KPI and ROI is achieved through an understanding of relevant
metric tools for a particular campaign, best practices for integration, and
a detailed evaluation of the results.

Whether your methods include
tracking pixels, offering coupon codes, or directing users toward
custom hashtags, working with marketers who know how to deliver comprehensive analytics
can offer insights beyond just measuring campaign reach, providing models
for audience behavior.

Multi-channel networks are on the decline.

Some of the world’s largest
multi-channel networks (MCNs) have experienced upheavals or undergone restructuring in the last
several years.

Maker Studios, owned by Disney, had layoffs in both
2016 and
2017, reportedly shifting focus from 60,000 creators to just 1,000. Other MCNs
have started to pivot from their user-generated roots, pursuing brand name
intellectual property and production deals.

In 2016, Machinima announced that they and Justin Lin’s YOMYOMF
(YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily) had partnered with NBCUniversal to produce a
digital reboot of Knight Rider. Shortly thereafter,
Machinima was purchased by Warner Bros. who revealed plans to fold the MCN into WB Digital Networks.

Expect to see more MCNs pivoting and partnering with entertainment
companies to focus on productions, and others reassessing their place in
the digital landscape for 2018.


Video marketing will become essential for reaching online audiences.

In 2018, video will become even more vital to digital outreach as the
numbers continue to prove its
superiority over other advertising mediums.

According to a
study cited in Business Insider, video can be twice as effective in driving sales
as text-based ads. Moreover, the report indicated that those influenced by
video tend to be active shoppers.

Social media platforms are well aware of the statistics, evidenced by their
continued investment in new video services. Last year,
Instagram launched “Stories”
to compete with the popular, correlative feature available on Snapchat. Facebook, the
world’s largest social network, recently announced “Watch,” which will premiere with video channels for celebrities and premium
content producers, but eventually be “a platform for all creators and
publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans, and
earn money for their work.”

While businesses are expected to
up their video ad investments, an ever-crowding marketplace means visibility and engagement are not
always proportional to dollars spent. Instead, those who know their
audience and can find ways to engage with them directly, will see the
greatest ROI.

2018 might be the year of the Instagram “Story.”

2017 was supposed to be the year of “live” video.

While engagement
certainly increased, the feature hasn’t been the panacea some had predicted. Still, many
forecasters are looking past live video to technologies, such as 360,
virtual, and augmented reality as the next new, big thing. However, this
brings into focus the trouble around many social media predictions: They’re
often wrong.

Going into 2017, Snapchat was the social media platform to watch as it
garnered huge media buzz and launched a successful IPO. However, Snapchat
Stories use is
down as much as 33 percent among top influencers (while they post twice as much on Instagram


Expect more lawsuits against individual influencers and brands.

Last year marked the first time that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
filed a case against individual influencers over a failure to disclose ownership ties and paid sponsorship promotions.

With the commission recently
sending letters to more than 90 influencers and marketers over compliance issues, lawsuits against influencers and the
companies that partner with them are
becoming more common.

Yet, up to
90 percent of paid endorsements remain undisclosed by influencers and brands.

Moving forward, it’s incredibly important that influencers and brands are
aware of FTC guidelines, and obey them when marketing or promoting online.

Instagram will surpass 1 billion users.

At its current rate of growth, Instagram is set to exceed 1 billion users
in 2018.

Influencer marketing on Instagram is currently a
$1 billion industry, and it could reach $2 billion by 2019. The mammoth platform offers
incredible opportunities for partnerships between influencers and
businesses; however, with an estimated 2.7 million sponsored posts, the
problem of cutting through the clutter has become a stark reality.

To stand out in the coming year, influencers and brands will have to forge
relationships, design campaigns, and create distribution plans that are
superior to that of their direct and indirect competitors.


Brands will get more specific about their social media demographics.

According to Pew Research Center, “69 pecent of the public uses some type
of social media.” While young adults continue to account for the bulk of
use, adoption by people of all ages
has increased steadily over the last decade. In fact, those in the 65 and older category increased adoption by 27
percent from 2010 to 2016.

Customers feel closer to businesses that understand their habits and needs.
Paying attention to demographic characteristics helps to identify places
where businesses can connect with audiences organically.

10. Social media managers will combat fake followers and artificial
engagement activity.

Building a
fake Instagram account with paid followers is relatively easy. This can be a hard and expensive
lesson for brands.

To avoid “Instascams,’ it’s important for businesses to incorporate an
airtight process for vetting influencers—especially in the case of
smaller and less well-known accounts. To ensure your dollars are going as far as they can, don’t rely on
automated processes. Instead, work with companies that have deep knowledge,
strong relationships, and proven expertise in influencer marketing.

Jeremy Shih works for Mediakix, a leading influencer marketing agency. A
version of this article originally appeared on the

Mediakix blog

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