It’s a truth universally acknowledged: traditional media channels have run their course, and marketing professionals are being forced to adapt.
Primetime television is no longer the most sought after advertising real estate, and brands are increasingly willing to fork out millions of dollars for an Instagram influencer ad campaign targeting smartphones across the globe. But how did we get here? What does the future of influencer marketing look like?
Since the first international influencer agency was born in 2012, the influencer marketing industry has skyrocketed from seasonal fad to an essential part of any marketing strategy. The key? The rising importance of human connection in marketing communications, where authentic stories told by trusted voices were increasingly able to trump any catchy jingle played between snippets of the Super Bowl.
Unlike celebrities, influencers can be anyone, based anywhere. What makes them influential is their hyper-engaged and loyal following on social media, meaning a popular fashion photographer, well-received travel blogger, and widely-respected health nut can all be considered influencers online.
As a result, influencer marketing now holds a safely established position in the public relations market and is set to only grow in popularity. Moreover, this form of communication is only expected to grow in depth and purpose as brands work out how to engage with their audiences on social media channels. With the value of brands ever more precarious and replaceable, human connection has become the driving force of consumer marketing.
As such, we expect to see brands engaging with influencers on a more long-term basis. Such long-term partnerships give influencers the scope to tell more comprehensive stories, designed to drive consumers all the way through the purchase journey.
Similarly, keep an eye out for new faces emerging on the influencer scene, especially those doing their bit to improve representation online. After all, the most influential voices are not always those with the highest follower count: users who turn to social media because they lack representation in mainstream media have a stronger voice than ever before.
As far as the evolution of technology is concerned, it cannot be denied that the ever-evolving smartphone has changed content creation and consumption forever. The shifting tides of aperture, pixel and sensor size technology continues to empower the next generation of content creators and self-made photographers. The result will be a dramatic rise in the number of influencers – especially in the nano-influencer sector – users with as few as one thousand followers.
Instagram is surely ahead of the pack in its ability to guide consumer opinion, leading the way with constant advances that cement the platform as a channel of choice for consumers and influencers alike. Take the new in-app shopping feature, for example, marking Instagram’s territory as the mobile purchasing platform of choice. Innovations such as these are sure to draw consumers further into the world of Instagram for all their content, consumption and communication needs.