A different internet, in a more closed-off world.
The internet we have grown up with will not be the internet of 2033. The exchange of data and the location of its storage will become an increasingly complex problem for companies (remember when TikTok was almost banned in the US?). There are already massive firewalls in China and Russia keeping information under lock and key, but things will get worse. I expect Europe and the US to work together (to an extent), while China, Russia, India and other “zones” build a completely isolated internet. Communication will be possible but each “zone” will have its own social networks (think WeChat in China), payment systems, search AIs, and communication protocols.
Continuous digital advertising across these zones will become mostly impossible. It will also affect our industry: Each of these “internets” will have its own players connected to their local social networks. Consolidation will be impossible which means Upfluence will be mostly protected from oversea’s competition. Any company looking to work with creators in the US or Europe will have to use a local software, let’s make sure it is us!
Being a Creator will be the most common form of entrepreneurship.
Recently, kids aged 11 to 17 took a survey about the jobs they wanted to do growing up. The results surprised the press: being an influencer stood second with 17% of votes and being a Youtuber was third with 14% of votes. These kids will grow up to be content creators. Millions of them will fight for an audience and turn their passions into their livelihood. Major players like Twitch, Youtube and TikTok with generous revenue sharing programs will become their home. Expect to see new services tailored to these entrepreneurs: Specialty banks, influencer degrees from ivy league universities, softwares and apps of all sorts to help serve their activity and much, much more.
The concept of followers becomes obsolete
Back when we started in 2013, the thing I loved most about influencer marketing was that it was “permission based”. Contrary to most forms of advertising, which were very disrupting (ie. billboards disrupt my walk, pop up ads disrupt my internet navigation, TV ads disrupt my entertainment, etc.), influencer marketing wasn’t: you had to make the conscious decision of subscribing to that creator’s content to consume it. We now consume social media differently. Using TikTok, Reels, Youtube Shorts to name a few, you no longer consume exclusively the content of people you chose to follow, rather you consume content of creators you don’t follow. You no longer decide, the algorithm does it for you.
I predict this trend will accelerate in the years to come, rendering the concept of followers increasingly useless at first, until it becomes completely obsolete. The content consumers that we are will be progressively disenfranchised from making the conscious decision of what content to consume, making its usage all the more addictive.
This will have implications for Upfluence too: industry standard KPIs will change, and identifying influencers will no longer be based on the size and composition of their audience, but rather their propensity to go viral, and the demographics of people who actually consume that content. Figuring this out will be less a feat of data gathering, and more a challenge of reverse engineering feed algorithms of various platforms. Exciting times for R&D.
Major regulations are coming
Coined in 2004, the very concept of social media isn’t even 20 years old yet. Had this concept been an American person, she would not be able to legally buy herself a beer. Yet, very much like alcohol, social media is a dopamine machine, except that it is perfectly legal to use as early as the ripe old age of 13.
While the last 10 years of public debate around social media have been all about polarization (election interference, disinformation, bubbles & social division, Russian bots, international meddling, etc.), I predict that the debate over the next 10 years will be all about its public health risks for the younger generation, as social media has been shown to be harmful to teens’ mental health (highly recommend this review by psychologist Jon Haidt from NYU).
This could mean many things: policies raising the minimum age to create a social media account to 18, stricter verification processes to sign up with ID verification effectively ending social anonymity, policies to fine parents of children under a certain age who are using electronic devices for extended periods of times (already implemented in Taiwan). All of which would cynically reduce the size of the “inventory” for influencer marketing. Or, it could be policies prohibiting influencers who are minors to be contracted, prohibiting influencers whose audience is x%+ aged below 18 to partake in a campaign, etc. Yet another R&D challenge for the industry.
Still, influencer marketing keeps gaining popularity
Influencer marketing is still a very new concept. According to the Lindy effect (ie. the life expectancy of technology is proportional to their current age), every passing year makes influencer marketing more likely to not be a fad. Based on a few trends, I’m not only confident that it isn’t a fad, I’m confident IM will keep growing rapidly.
We’ve seen influencers going “long tail”, and brands working with large volumes of smaller folks rather than a handful of celebrity influencers. As follower count becomes increasingly irrelevant (see my first prediction), brands will work more and more with individuals. As these individuals are found everywhere (in the CRM, in support tickets, in UGC, amongst employees, etc.) influence becomes truly ubiquitous.
The same goes for B2B, companies no longer market to the company or to its executive who used to cut the checks, but they market to the individual user instead. As such, social recommendations, product reviews, testimonials, and comments become an increasingly important part of B2B marketing. Hence relying more and more on individuals, essentially replicating the mechanics of influencer marketing, increasing the size of the market.
To wrap this up: it’ll take an increasing amount of data, and interestingly of ethics, to not just do what it takes to win in the industry, but also to do what is right in the face of the challenges ahead. I know we have what it takes to achieve both.
10 Influential years, and we are just getting started!
As a leading SaaS influencer marketing tool, Upfluence has been at the forefront of the industry for over a decade. Our platform has helped countless businesses connect with influencers, track their campaigns, and measure their results. And as we celebrate our 10th-year anniversary, we are more committed than ever to providing innovative and effective solutions for our clients.
Upfluence was founded in 2011, at a time when influencer marketing was still a relatively new concept. Our founder recognized the potential of social media and saw an opportunity to connect brands with influential individuals who could help spread their message to a wider audience. Since then, we have grown and evolved alongside the influencer marketing industry, adapting our strategies and tools to meet the changing needs of our clients.
One of the key strengths of Upfluence is our powerful suite of tools, which allows businesses of all sizes to connect with influencers and manage their campaigns in one place. Our platform offers a range of features, including influencer discovery, outreach, campaign management, and analytics. This comprehensive approach to influencer marketing has helped our clients achieve outstanding results and build long-term relationships with influencers.
In recent years, we have also focused on transparency and authenticity in influencer marketing. We believe that honesty and transparency are critical to building trust between brands, influencers, and consumers. To this end, we have developed tools that help our clients work with influencers in a way that is ethical, transparent, and authentic. Our platform includes features such as sponsored content disclosure and content approval workflows to ensure that all content meets the highest standards.
Another strength of Upfluence is our vast network of influencers and brands. We have formed countless partnerships across a wide range of industries, building a strong network that allows us to provide the best possible service to our clients. Whether you are looking to connect with influencers in fashion, beauty, food, travel, or any other industry, we have the expertise and connections to help you achieve your goals.
Looking to the future, we are excited to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of influencer marketing. We will continue to develop new tools and technologies that help our clients connect with influencers in even more meaningful ways. We will remain committed to helping businesses of all sizes achieve their marketing goals.