The Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2018
With the rise of ad blockers and decline in radio and TV viewership, influencer marketing has proven to be the most effective form of advertising. It was on every trend list in 2017 and will continue to be a focus of smart marketers in 2018.
I asked the top influencers, the marketing thought leaders, and the industry insiders where they thought influencer marketing was headed in 2018 and beyond.
Here’s what they had to say:
Rachel Levin- Social media star with 20m followers on social: For 2018, I don't believe that there is any specific set influencer marketing trend that will appear, aside from: There will more influencers used in every company’s basic marketing strategy. More and more people are learning the power that influencers have. I believe that it will be rare for any brand to launch a campaign that doesn't involve at lease one social media influence. The trajectory is going to grow steeper and steeper, than already exists, as more and more small companies-even old companies- are starting to do things in this new way, which is social media
Lauren Riihimaki, known as LaurDIY- Social media star with 15m followers on social: Influencer marketing has evolved a lot this year. Some of my favorite brands are only now getting into it and it’s been amazing to work with them and see them find major success. I’ve also been lucky enough to find some amazing longer-term partnerships, like Mudd and Fanta, where I’m able to become an ambassador for the brand and help them build a relationship with my audience. Instead of working on a bunch of smaller campaigns, with a lot of influencers, brands are starting to see the value in aligning with a few really great creators that they can trust and that reflect their views. I’m really looking forward to being able to announce some of the projects I’m about to start working on with some incredible brands!
Wengie- YouTuber with over 12m followers on social: The trend I see is influencers trying new things! They are using their audience to develop their passions, whether it’s acting, singing or writing. I’m seeing influencers do really well in a new space which is interesting because many are going solo, not needing the distribution machine that talent has needed in the past; like record labels or publishing houses.
Charlie Xavier (aka WOLFIE)- YouTube comedian with over 8m followers on social: Big brands continued to dabble in the space with micro-budgets in 2017; testing influencer marketing for the first time. We're finally in a place where major brands have now completed their "proof of concept" campaigns and will be shifting a massive piece of their budgets from mainstream marketing over to influencers. Next year is going to be our year, as creators. I'm excited to see what comes and to see how the brands who really "get it" will execute breakthrough ideas that continue to push the boundaries of advertising and marketing.
DeStorm Power- YouTuber, with over 8m followers on social: I see influencers showing their star power by competing with the traditional media by doing even bigger campaigns. From commercials to billboards they’ll show they can go just as big.
Karina Gacia-YouTuber with over 7m followers on social: From where I'm situated, I've noticed an increase in brands looking to produce family-friendly branded content. My connection with my fans is extremely personal. In order to provide an authentic experience for the fans, as well as provide a return on investment for the brand, I believe we'll see more and more brands establishing long-term relationships with individual creators instead of enlisting a large number of talent to create one-off pieces of content. My area of focus, DIY and crafting, is a perfect bridge between the digital and real world because it allows my fans to use their hands to replicate the different projects. This high level of interactivity provides the fans with a less passive experience than typical video content and the brand with a longer and more meaningful impression on their target audience.
Erika Costell- Social media star, with over 6 million followers on social: The quality and production value of integrated content will be enhanced in 2018. Now that there are more and more mediums for content every day, our viewers are expecting a higher production value; some sort of juxtaposition of normal everyday or bedroom vlogs, mixed with Hollywood sets, where there is still room for a personal element in the content.
Nikki Phillippi- YouTuber with over 2m followers on social: Digital marketing has changed so much since I started working with brands 6 years ago. The biggest change I’ve seen is that they understand that the space is actually valuable and important to be in now! Because of that, there is so much more opportunity for influencers to make a living by connecting with incredible brands. It has been interesting to watch the digital landscape change and evolve throughout the years and now see companies really start to “get it." In the coming months/year, I think that brands are not only going to continue working with influencers, but I think they’re going to start doing it in a bigger way and collaborate on larger more long- term deals.
Agnes Kozera-Founder of FameBit: As YouTube creator collaborations continue to prove more effective at driving results, brands will look to do more with organic branded video beyond distributing content to creator owned channels. Whether it be remarketing to creators' audiences or repurposing creator produced cut-downs for TrueView, 2018 will be about combining the best of influencer marketing and media, and further shortening the path to purchase. As part of Google and YouTube, FameBit is focused on making it easier than ever for brands to get smarter about using real time data on creator's already engaged audiences and content, helping to reach the brand's target market in a way that is truly native to the YouTube platform.
Stephanie Horbaczewski-CEO/Founder of StyleHaul: One industry trend is that the space is evolving to require more accountability in regard to measurable results driven for all influencer marketing spend. As a result, in our own business at StyleHaul, we increasingly use data and technology to monitor how an audience responds to a branded content post in order to measure impact, and also to create more meaningful and effective campaigns. A second trend is that we're seeing greater dispersion of influence both across platforms, and in reach of audience. Influencers are no longer just YouTube megastars, but can be micro-influencers on smaller platforms like Musical.ly. As a result, in our own business, we've expanded our pool of creators, and now operate on many different platforms.
Sam Shahidi- Co-Founder Shots Studios: We are seeing more Fortune 500 companies committing to more long-term campaigns with creators, as they are the future of brand awareness and user acquisition.
Zach Blume- Managing Partner Portal A: As audiences become inundated with influencer marketing, brand campaigns will have to get louder and bolder to differentiate themselves. The brands that succeed in 2018 will figure out how to break through the noise by: Delivering production value without losing authenticity, stripping out the traditional gatekeepers by partnering directly with a new generation of influencer talent, or by working with modern creative partners who are fluent in the language of these communities.
Kimberly Perplies-Senior Director of US Digital Talent at James Grant Management In 2018, we’ll see a split where brands will go one of two ways: Either they’ll go with micro-influencers-smaller numbers, lower fees, but high engagement and great conversion-or aligning with huge superstar influencers. In 2017, we’ve seen the trend of brands taking influencers on high-brow, luxury trips. In 2018 we will see more brand-influencer ambassadorships in the form of licensing deals. Basically, more YouTubers will be coming to a store near you! 2018 will be the year of the daily vlogger. Consumers have more choices for digital content than ever. The creators that can get viewers tuning in every single day will be the ones to lock down for strategic brand partnerships.
Kenn Henman- Chief Talent Office at Gushcloud Talent Agency: I strongly believe the social influencer space is just beginning to reach its full potential. The idea of having people “follow” you online is valuable and influencer marketing is now receiving mainstream approval and media recognition in a billion-dollar plus industry. Today’s online talent often has more influence than Hollywood celebrities for one simple reason, trust. And trust sells.
Scott Fisher- Select Management Group: In 2018, brands will continue to look beyond integrated social content posts and partner with creators, or influencers, in more meaningful ways as long-term spokespeople and licensing partners. We also see a trend of influencers moving toward building their own consumer brands -whether it be in licensing, merchandising, or talent investing in new tech and media businesses.
Murray Newlands-Entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and marketing guru: As more advertising dollars move to influencer marketing, 2018 will be the year where brands truly start to look beyond likes and follower counts and begin to focus on engagement…On the consumer side we are seeing consumers start to look for greater authenticity from influencers and to try and look beyond the post to what the influencer actually likes and what their day is like…This will provide an opportunity for brands to find even more novels ways to feature products in the lives and routines of influencers and drive customer engagement.
John Rampton- Entrepreneur, connector, influencer: With influencer marketing likes, clicks, engagement and comments mean nothing if it’s not generating revenue. Focus your efforts on driving likes, clicks, comments and different types of engagement that actually drives top line revenue to your business. If you’re not driving dollars, eventually you’ll run out of it.
Jeff Hayden- Ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn influencer, contributing editor Inc: I see influencer marketing as less of a one-off tactic and part of a longer-term strategy. One tweet, one share, one testimonial, event-driven tactics, naturally provide short-term and therefore limited results. Shifting to a longer-term approach that builds a relationship with an influencer — and therefore with customers — is much more effective. Take Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett. He’s used Ernie Ball guitar strings for over 30 years. He’s done videos for Ernie Ball: Not just short promotion-heavy shots, but longer-form content with genuine emotional depth and connection. He’s done “stunt” videos that went viral in the music community. Why? He loves the strings and appreciates the company. So if I’m a Metallica fan, if I’m a Kirk fan, and I enjoy playing guitar…which strings will I buy? Ernie Ball. Using influencer marketing — and genuine influences — as part of a long-term strategy will create long-term results. And isn’t that what you’re really want when you’re trying to build an authentic brand?
Cynthia Johnson- Entrepreneur, marketing professional, author, and keynote speaker: It won’t enough to just pay someone to post anymore; Brand ambassadors will be necessary. The rise in personnel branding will also continue to be more important. The use of micro-influencers will continue to rise. Finally, I see live video, or real experiences, being the ideal way to consume content and work with brands.