From the moment it came to be, the future of Influencer Marketing was a difficult one to predict. Would the novelty of relatable individuals promoting products on behalf of brands continue to skyrocket, or would it eventually hit a glass ceiling?
If there is a limit to its potential, we’re yet to see it and it certainly seems to be adapting and developing faster than ever before with the Influencer Marketing Hub reporting that 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer budget for 2020.
THE FALL OF THE CELEBRITY INFLUENCER
As always, it IS possible to have too much of a good thing. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a notable increase in people complaining on their favourite celebs’ accounts that they’re sick of seeing ads, and I’m with them!
Celebrities who endorse too many brands lose serious kudos and credibility in my book and dare I say it, can come across as a little desperate?!
Someone who’s started out as an Influencer, whose audience has always known what they’re signed up for, will probably carry on relatively unscathed in the pushback of too many ads. However, it might not be the same case for celebrities who have seen they can make a fast buck with the trend! People often follow a celebrity because they want to see a sneak peek of their life, NOT an advert in every other picture.
They’re also not relatable, most people don’t share the spending habits of celebrities. If you see them promoting something that you could actually afford, it’s unlikely they actually use it and anything they might actually use tends to be a little over budget for the masses!
That being said, if a celebrity with a genuine interest/love for your product (who doesn’t spread themselves too thinly on the ad front) shows interest in working with you, a well-executed collaboration can still be a real success.
THE RISE OF THE MICRO-INFLUENCER
Investing in a couple of well-loved micro-influencers could be a real savvy marketing move for 2020. These individuals (who tend to fall into the thousands of followers’ category, rather than tens of thousands), often have a unique bond with their following which naturally weakens the bigger the fan-base gets.
This isn’t due to larger influencers caring less, just more that with 7,000 followers, you’ll likely see the same names commenting and liking which allows you to create unique and devoted relationships with people. It’s almost impossible to have this when every comment left is lost in a sea of hundreds of other notifications.
Don’t go TOO small though, nothing smells of a pyramid scheme more than someone you knew from school with 150 followers telling you how a "nutritional" detox tea changed their life... and could change yours too FOR ONLY £9.99 TODAY!!!
The longer Influencer Marketing is around, the clearer and more streamlined the regulations will become. While the fault may have loosely fallen on the Influencer themselves in the past, companies are becoming acutely aware that they too are now liable for any mistakes that are made along the way.
This has been the case since at least 2017, but it’s taken a while for anyone to feel the effects of the rules. Here’s what the Advertising Standards Authority have to say on the matter:
"Under the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing, the brands (the advertiser) normally has primary responsibility for complying with the rules. Others involved in preparing or publishing marketing communications, such as agencies, publishers and other service suppliers, also accept an obligation to abide by the Code.
In terms of influencer marketing, we hold both the brand owner and the influencer to public account, including in ASA rulings. The negative publicity that arises from our interventions can erode consumers’ trust in the brand and followers’ trust in the influencer; so, neither party wins from a failure to disclose advertising as such."
And, what better way of reminding people of the rules than enforcing them? Big brands and Influencers beware, we sense someone’s due to be made an example of soon!
To make sure it’s not you, there’s a handy guide for making it clear that ads are ads on the ASA & CAP website here.
BUSINESSES COULD FACE INFLUENCER LEGITIMACY ISSUES…
If Instagram decides to go ahead with removing likes (which has been in testing since April 2019) it could have a negative impact on brands working with Influencers.
Though the removal of likes may encourage the average Joe to get posting without the fear of uploading at the wrong time, risking a mere 3 likes and bombing, the like count is an important tool for businesses to work out if an influencer’s following is genuine, or if it’s been bought.
It’s a simple bit of maths, more followers should equate to more likes (although the algorithm hasn't helped this either...). An “influencer” with 43.9k may look like an attractive option for a small brand BUT if after a bit of digging, the brand finds that this “influencer” only gets 50 likes on a photo, they’d be right to smell a rat.
With likes removed, it’ll still be possible to view engagement by comments and tracking tools (see more in our previous Influencer blog here) but your detective work won’t be as speedy if this does roll out in 2020.
BRANDS WILL WORK ON LASTING RELATIONSHIPS WITH INFLUENCERS
As times move on, brands would be wise to invest in their Influencer research and relationships. Gone are the days where anyone with a large following would fit the bill and companies are leaning towards creating lasting relationships to work on repeat campaigns (think more like brand ambassadors) that puts their product in front of the audience on multiple occasions over a longer period of time, creating trust and familiarity with the viewer.
Though it might be tempting if you’re starting out to see how it goes with one initial post, it may be a better move in 2020 to put a little more budget with more touchpoints behind your campaign, give people a chance to get to know you!
WHAT DO WE WANT? DIVERSITY! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW.
Part of the hook with Influencer Marketing is that you feel you can relate to the Influencer, they’re not so far removed that their life is completely out of reach and maybe you even see a little of yourself in them. But, what about the people who don’t feel they’re being represented?
There’s increasing pressure on the Influencer Marketing world for more diversity through all ages, genders, races, sexualities, abilities and perspectives. If brands aren’t working on this, they can prepare to be in the firing line for 2020 because diversity and inclusion are, and should be, key.
We expect to see a rise in diversity in the Influencers that big brands are choosing to work with going forward.
If you'd like to speak to one of our Online Marketing experts about your campaigns, get in touch below!