The influencer marketing landscape is evolving at a feverish pace just like in 2017. Dreamweaver Brand Communications predicts a new set of opportunities and challenges for brands, partner agencies, and influencers alike in 2018.
Like 2017, brands in 2018 will continue increasing large percentages of their marketing budgets toward influencer marketing campaigns and partnering with experienced influencer agencies.
Working with some of the country’s most successful brands, influencers, and brand ambassadors, Dreamweaver Brand Communications is in a unique position to share what trends and themes lay ahead for influencer marketing for 2018.
1) Brands Will Seek Strategic Partner Agencies To Deploy Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Brands, especially those that are now just starting their influencer campaigns for the first time or brands that are expanding their influencer marketing will partner with experienced integrated public relations, marketing and influencer marketing agencies for greater ROI, transparency, and customer service.
As brands’ downsize their marketing departments in record numbers, external integrated PR, marketing, and influencer agencies continued to fill the vacuum in record numbers. In 2018, we expect that external partner agencies will continue to run both national high-volume influencer and niche micro-influencer campaigns on behalf of a brand, but also assist in the brand’s overall strategic planning and marketing spend. As budget priorities shift, external partner agencies will become an extension of a brand’s marketing department.
2) Navigating Instagram’s Evolving Algorithm Will Continue To Pose Headwind For Influencer Campaigns
Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, is notorious for updating their algorithm, and Instagram is no different. Digital marketers, social media marketers, and influencer experts continue to work decoding Instagram’s algorithm. While social media advertising will continue to grow, working within the various platforms guidelines is not only time consuming but restrictive for brands trying to reach a targeted audience. Unable to use personal attributes, strict guidelines about mentions of medical conditions, the limitation of text on boosted ads, and Facebook’s brand content tag create a minefield of rules and regulations. Internal marketing teams who do not deal with influencer and social media marketing daily struggle to navigate the evolving landscape. External agency partners have intimate knowledge and familiarity with the ever-changing rules, regulations, and FTC compliance guidelines since they operate within them daily.
Facebook and Instagram deploy advanced AI and automated solutions to streamline the advertising process and also scan for harmful and discriminatory content that does not conform to the community guidelines. Unfortunately, agencies and influencers encounter situations that content is flagged incorrectly as inappropriate when in fact it does meet the strict quality standards. As a result, this hurts the influencers’ ability to reach their loyal audience base due to Instagram’s algorithm. The changing state of Instagram’s algorithmic ecosystem has unintended consequences for influencers and social media marketers alike.
3) Influencer and Experiential Marketing Will Drive Brand Activations
Event marketing, on-ground marketing, and engagement marketing are now referred to as experiential marketing will continue to integrate influencers into the mix in 2018. In Dreamweaver’s experience, the rise in experiential marketing directly correlates with the growing trends with both brands and consumers forming an emotional connection and relationship with one another. This is particularly important to them because brands that have an emotional connection with their consumers have increased brand loyalty.
Cynthia Srednicki, CEO of Dreamweaver Brand Communications believes “In 2018, more and more brands will turn to experiential marketing to drive on-site engagement, improve same-store sales, support brand activations capture and share brand content via photos, videos, and blogs for future marketing campaigns.”
4) YouTube and Instagram Videos Will Dominate as Cord-Cutting Increases
Individuals and families now create their own video viewing experiences on iPhones, iPads, and laptops while simultaneously cutting the cord from traditional TV viewing. Savvy influencers, experienced influencer marketing agencies, and forward-thinking brands will leverage cord cutting and reach new audiences.
5) Social Media Platforms Will Tailor Their Interface For Quick Influencer Campaign Execution
With demands on influencers at all-time highs coming from brands and regulatory bodies alike, social media platforms will become easier for influencers to engage with. In 2017, Instagram introduced new features for influencers and brands to disclose paid posts, increasing transparency. It is no surprise that Facebook continues to develop apps for influencers to produce content swiftly since there are many different types of campaign models brands utilze.
6) Increased B2B Influencer Marketing Campaigns
While B2B influencer marketing campaigns are not new, B2B companies will seek out influencer marketing agencies to partner with and reach new and existing customer bases on social channels like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and increasingly Instagram. While B2B companies have been slow to embrace influencer marketing, B2B marketers see the marketing value of leveraging influencer content such as valuable video content for your customers to powerful blogs. Integrating influencer marketing with public relations and content marketing will generate quality leads and increased website traffic.
7) Integrating Influencer Marketing Into the Customer Journey
Social media and celebrity influencers can be classified into three distinct categories: celebrity and mega-influencers, macro-influencers, and micro-influencers. Influencer specialist and COO Gerard T. Rogan of Dreamweaver Brand Communications believes that “2018 will be the year of integrated influencer marketing, weaving together not only celebrity, macro, and micro influencers but integrating them with the overall marketing, digital marketing, social media marketing and PR campaigns. With multiple touch points, integrated influencer marketing will positively impact the customer journey and create emotional connections to brands leading to loyalty and ultimately sales.”
7) Long-Term Influencer Relationships The New Norm
In 2018 brands will shift toward long-term relationships or ambassadorships with influencers. It is not surprising that consumers young and old are savvy social media users and know authenticity when they engage with it. While the one-off influencer marketing campaign is not dead, consumers see through influencers participating in a campaign to get paid rather than a genuine relationship or dare I say ambassadorship. To combat this trend brands now sign influencers for long-term brand partnerships. Seeing this trend, Dreamweaver Brand Communications partnered Cheribundi, a functional tart cherry juice beverage with Olympic Medalist Aly Raisman for a long-term brand ambassador campaign.
The campaign results continue to drive brand awareness and sales for Cheribundi through Aly’s authentic engagement and use of the product and her audience base engaging and buying Cheribundi. While every brand has different partnership goals and campaign goals, appearances at trade shows, in-store events, new product launches, product collaborations, and even serving as the face of a traditional and digital advertising campaign. For over 20 years, Cynthia Srednicki of Dreamweaver believes “When influencers and brands build strong, long-term partnerships and ambassadorships, the influencer content created is even more authentic since their audience base relates to and knows the influencer, therefore believing in the brand and its core values.”
8) Increased Focus on Influencer ROI
While influencer marketing began as a brand awareness marketing strategy, marketers continue to strive to leverage their influencer content to increase e-commerce sales, in-store foot traffic, and other specific actions. In 2018, we expect to see campaigns with targeted call-to-action. For example, these calls-to-actions could include purchasing, renewal programs, and no obligation test and buy programs. With social media platforms and third-party apps enabling users to buy products directly within the platform, expect brands and influencers to leverage this opportunity together. Brands will put additional pressure on agencies of campaign success through KPIs, such as e-commerce sales, foot traffic goals, and recurring sales through subscriptions.
9) Budgets For Influencer Marketing Will Increase
Social media and social media marketing has had an enormous impact on the customer’s path to purchase. According to a research report from Forrester, on average, the consumer engages and consumes with 11.4 pieces of unique content before making a purchasing decision. Now that influencer marketing is part of social media, they can make a positive net impact throughout the customer journey.
Influencer marketing is instrumental in every phase of the customer journey. From the inspiration phase when influencers first expose their audience to new products and brands, through educating the consumer during the consideration phase, all the way to the decision/purchase phase, influencers play an important role. As a result, brands will increase their influencer marketing budgets to obtain new customers and leverage the influencers further.
10) Paying the Right Price
Currently, the influencer industry lacks uniform pricing standards, so influencers’ prices can vary greatly and knowing what to pay can be difficult to determine. Usage rights, quality of content, videography, and photography, engagement rates, and the number of posts are just some of the reasons why pricing varies. Brands and influencer marketing companies will negotiate with greater zeal due to new data sources and the sheer number of influencers coming online. While we do not expect prices to decrease for influencers, we do expect increased negotiations when partnering an influencer with a brand to obtain the best outcome both campaign and ROI wise.
In today’s marketplace, brands need not only have their finger on the pulse of the consumer but also need to be one step ahead of the competition to avoid being blindsided by an emerging brand. For brands wanting to work with top influencers, it is essential to partner with a reputable and experienced agency who deliver results under different market conditions.