The last decade has been huge for influencer marketing. So huge that it’s now hard to imagine our social media feeds without influencer marketing. With so many technological changes on the horizon, what’s next for influencer marketing? Today, influencer marketing reigns supreme as the fastest-growing channel for customer acquisition. It’s not going anywhere, and brand managers today need to do all they can to prepare for the next era of digital presence. In the meantime, here are our top 10 influencer marketing predictions for 2020.
A micro-influencer is anyone with a following between 5000 - 50,000. These smaller influencers are expected to take a lead role in this new era of influencer marketing.
Users are more likely to trust someone with a smaller, authentic following. Influencers with between 5,000 and 10,000 followers have an engagement rate of 6.4%. That’s significantly higher than the usual 2.4% for larger influencer campaigns. Learning how to leverage these smaller influencers will be key in 2020.
Long-Term Brand Collaborations
Collaborations are no longer the short-lived phenomenon they once were. Today, more brands are partnering with influencers on a long-term basis, and this means creating a greater impact on campaigns. This can manifest beyond campaigns, as many brands are forming co-branded partnerships with influencers to release new product lines and tap into that influencer's community. Some cosmetics brands are already doing this by releasing co-branded products that incorporate diverse and unique styles to inspire their audience. In 2020, as influencer marketing matures, we'll see more of these partnerships and perhaps more spinoff influencer brands like Danny Duncan.
In the past year, we saw an uptick in the backlash against influencers and marketers taking shortcuts to success in community-building efforts. But as regulations around ADA compliance, privacy laws, and social media platform changes ramp up in 2020, these tactics will need to cease. Having the right influencer marketing tools in place to properly run your influencer program will be critical in 2020 to ensure the content you're using is permissioned and documented as such.
We’re now entering an H2H (human to human) selling landscape. In an H2H selling environment, it’s all about building real relationships. This is another natural extension of community-driven marketing.
Brands no longer control the message – consumers do. And as consumers gain more share of voice, it's up to brands to harness that power to positively impact their brand. Influencers, especially authentic micro and nanoinfluencers are able to drive a large impact with communities through a transparent H2H approach.
The most popular CGI influencer of the moment, Lil Miquela, has already partnered with brands like Prada and Calvin Klein. While these digital influencers might feel a bit strange, they’re undeniably popular. Brands with the budget and campaign resources can (and probably will) create their own perfect influencer. The challenges with this are similar to building any brand, however. Gaining an authentic following that eventually converts to sales requires a masterful amount of scale on the brand's part. This coming year may lead to an increase in CGI influencers, but more likely, real people who are already passionate about the brands and communities they represent will have the most influence on a brand's sales.
New forms of media have already begun taking over the influencer space, and they’re redefining how brands reach consumers. Podcasts have opened brands to new markets. With more than 50% of Americans listening to podcasts, influencer and brand-driven podcasts could become increasingly popular.
While podcasts can drum up interest and tap into new and relevant communities, visual content still remains key as shown by channels like TikTok and Instagram. Brands should still prioritize their existing media channels before spreading themselves too thin without testing first.
Influencer Platforms and Influencer Managers
Ten years ago, the idea of having a dedicated social media manager was still fairly new. In 2020, the skillset and technology required to run an influencer marketing program will begin to surpass the skillset already available on the market. Influencer marketing technology will become necessary for any brands running influencer marketing campaigns. For best-in-class brands, a community-professional dedicated to influencer management might become a must-have.
Verification of Following
Fake followers, engagement groups, and other social media “practices” can make someone seem much more influential online than they truly are. Between bots and shady practices, there's a lot of tricks that will inevitably transform in 2020. That being said, following and surface-level engagement are no longer the core metrics brands will evaluate when choosing influencers.
Brands are getting savvier about the metrics they use to measure the potential success of influencers. In 2020 brands should look to deeper engagement metrics that truly impact the bottom line of their sales.
In the past, many influencer campaigns have focused on a single platform (usually Instagram). In the next year, expect to see more brands relying on cross-platform campaigns, especially with recent privacy concerns on social media sites like Facebook. Similar to what we've witnessed with TikTok, influencer success will flock to less saturated but more highly engaged platforms.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
Looking back on the past 10 years of influencer marketing, it’s easy to see just how far this industry has come already. That being said, there’s no time to stay comfortable. Change comes quickly, and the early bird (or brand) usually gets the best worm. Take these predictions seriously and begin crafting your next strategy. You can see many of these predictions above on your social media feed already, but they’ll take your brand much farther in 2020. Are you prepared?