Trends in Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has been one of the top marketing forms since 2015. Its popularity coincided with the rise of the ad blocking movement and a decline in cable television consumption. In 2019, 89% of marketers stressed the importance of Instagram to their influencer marketing strategy. 69% of marketers were going to allocate most of their marketing budget on Instagram, while 11% of marketers were going to spend mostly on YouTube, followed by blogs (7%), Facebook (5%) and LinkedIn (5%). Mediakix, an influencer marketing agency, forecasts that the Instagram influencer market will generate $2.3 billion by 2020, up from $1.7 billion in 2019. Its estimates are based on the total number of sponsored posts on Instagram and the average cost of sponsored content.  

Although Mediakix projects that the total number of brand sponsored posts on Instagram will reach over 6 million in 2020, this figure is not accurate as there are many cases of undisclosed brand sponsorship as well as fake brand sponsorship. Fake sponsored content is a growing trend on Instagram. After growing their follower base, many Instagram users who aspire to become influencers face the challenge of attracting brand attention and monetizing their content. To get noticed by sponsors, they need to show their promotional abilities and their previous campaign work. Many of them thus decide to pretend that the content that they share is sponsored to build an attractive work portfolio for potential sponsors. 

In 2020, influencer marketing will focus on employee advocacy programmes. Many companies are encouraging employees to become in-house influencers. Such an approach has several benefits for companies. First of all, in-house influencers are more trustworthy: if employees advocate their employer’s brand, their advocacy seems to be more genuine. Secondly, the transition to employee advocacy is smoother: employees are already an integral part of internal operations, thus making them the face of marketing campaigns is much easier. Thirdly, having in-house influencers gives companies more control over their marketing campaigns. Finally, employee advocacy helps strengthen the employee-employer relationship: in exchange for their advocacy, the employer helps employees build their status and career within the company. 

YouTube and Instagram influencers often share unauthentic and too contrived content. Seeking content of a more intimate and genuine nature, many users have started consuming more influencer podcasts. It has been observed that users have been longing for longer and more conversational content. Influencer podcasts also provide an authentic ad experience: since ads are mostly read, their content feels more authentic and natural than the content of branded ads. The ad authenticity is created through showing one’s personality and making comments or jokes. 

Over the past 5 years, Instagram has been full of perfectly staged shots. This aesthetic is no longer trendy. It has been observed that consumers do not want perfect images shot by a professional camera crew, but prefer those taken by regular people who would like to share something relevant rather than just promote something. Over-produced posts no longer capture a lot of attention. However, too much real-life look might make promoted products or services look less desirable. To avoid that, it is important to create an aesthetic which is natural and authentic yet not too careless nor ill-composed.

Influencer marketing, content marketing and social media marketing have often been seen as distinct types of online marketing. In fact, they are just different components of the online marketing process. That will become even more evident over the next year as firms will be merging those marketing activities. Firms will continue creating content and sharing it via their social media accounts. To increase their social reach, they will also ask influencers operating in their niche to share promotional content on their behalf. 

References: I | II | Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic | CJ Howghey, | Nikki Gilliland, | Shama Hyder, Forbes |