Influencer marketing has taken many major turns in the past few years, and the industry has almost completely transformed from what it was in the beginning.
A quick recap on the recent years…
Previously predominantly featuring big-named celebrities, major sports stars, and mega thought leaders, today’s influencer marketing has lent more and more space for micro-influencers. These are your everyday teenagers, mommy bloggers, e-sport streamers – who are also driving 60% higher engagement rates in marketing campaigns compared to mega-influencers.
This change has opened up many opportunities for brands to consider influencer marketing a vital, on-going part of their marketing efforts. LINQIA reports that in 2018 alone, 66% of marketers ran three or more campaigns, and 42% have an always-on strategy.
Influencer marketing has made its mark in the past few years, and definitely is here to stay. But it clearly is an industry with many changes, opportunities – and unavoidably, challenges. Can we make any predictions about the upcoming leaps and turns, as we step into 2020?
Onto the future…
Who will brands be working with?
Influencer marketing in 2020 will continue to expand its focus on micro and mid-size influencers. There are many reasons to believe that this is the standard way of moving forward: Smaller influencers have higher engagement rates, cost less, are more approachable, and are getting easier for brands and agencies to find.
Brands will also recognize their existing customers as prospective influencers. The best influencers are those who truly love your products, and can effectively communicate your values to their audience. And who can do this better than your existing customers?
On the same wavelength of finding the perfect influencers, brands and agencies will also get much more creative with their search. While lifestyle, beauty, entertainment, and tech influencers are still going to remain the top influencer categories, we will witness more and more emerging influencer niches: Art/artists, organizations, animal (pet) accounts, and even CGI influencers.
What type of content will the audience care for?
In their 2019 Influencer Marketing Global Survey, Rakuten Marketing found that consumers prefer video content the most at 64%, followed immediately by images at 61%, and written content at 38%. We believe that this trend will continue to grow its emphasis on videos moving into 2020, with audio-formatted content also joining the game.
This rise of video content addresses one of the biggest concerns for influencer marketing: How to avoid dilution when anyone can just post a photo and call it a day? Video content is generally more involved, engaging, authentic (since influencers have to put more effort into it,) and can provide influencers more space to be creative as well as informative.
Short-length videos will also be a great new playground for influencer marketing – like dancing, parody, and challenge videos on TikTok. While TikTok mainly targets Gen Z, podcasts are capturing Millenials’ interests. There are 750,000 podcasts in 2019 according to Podcast Insights, and 51% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast. Podcast Insights also predict that this number is only going up – and that’s great news for brands who want to explore a new way to reach their audience.
What type of collaborations will be effective?
Brands are already partnering with influencers in longer terms, with 51% of marketers are working with influencers for six months or longer, according to Mobile Marketer. This number is expected to grow, and we believe 2020 is the year of long-term collaborations.
Long-term collaborations, as we have explained in our previous blog post, are extremely important for brands in scaling their influencer marketing efforts. In recent years, influencer marketing tools have allowed brands to manage their influencer relationships much more effectively and authentically. Not only beneficial for brands and agencies, at the same time, long-term collaborations are also sustainable for influencers – which will push the industry to grow even more robustly.
Long-term relationships will take many different forms: From ambassador programs, to brands and influencers co-creating product lines (Jaclyn Hill and Becca Cosmetics co-created their Champaign Pop highlighter, for example.) In general, brands will start to move away from one-off collaborations with influencers.
What social media platforms will be best for influencer marketing in 2020?
In 2019, Instagram was used in 79% of influencer campaigns, according to Influencer Marketing Hub in their 2019 report. Despite its changes in hidden likes, we still predict Instagram to be one of the strongest forces of influencer marketing platform. Besides Instagram and Youtube, TikTok, LinkedIn, and podcasts will also refine their relevancy in the influencer marketing world.
There will also be plenty of room for new social media platforms, especially if they offer ways for its content creator to be creative and versatile. On top of that, we also see a trend of brands working with influencers on multiple different platforms: an Instagram post and a Youtube video, a podcast snippet and a Twitter mention, etc. This provides more diverse content creating opportunities, authenticity, and consistency.
Image credits: AdvertisingWeek360.com
What will go out of style?
As mentioned above, one-off collaborations will scale back and make room for long-term relationships. Most importantly, the audience will be tired of stale, unauthentic, unrelatable content.
The general public is getting more and more comfortable and welcoming to influencers’ branded content, as long as the sponsored content is relevant and interesting to the audience. Not only that, but the audience will also expect transparency in influencer’s content: They need to know when a post is sponsored. The Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) agrees with this, and in 2019, they came out with a complete guidebook for brands and influencers to follow.
What other new guidelines will take shape?
We expect the FTC to keep updating their influencer advertising disclosure guidelines, as the industry changes and expands. There might be more specifications for certain industries – like cannabis, CBD, or even alcohol.
Social media platforms like Instagram and Youtube themselves might integrate new systems for influencer marketing – like Instagram’s new Branded Content Approval settings this year.
On top of that, with the 2020 elections, we also see a big wave of influencer marketing used for political purposes. There can be new guidelines from the FTC and/or the Federal Election Commissions (FEC). We expect in one way or another, the influencers and influencer marketing can hugely impact the 2020 elections and the political landscape in general.
What challenges will be in the past?
In 2019, brands’ biggest challenge was finding influencers to participate, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. When searching for influencers manually, brands can waste endless hours and days of digging around. The worst thing is, sometimes all the hard work might not even lead to anything – especially if you are searching for niche influencers, or searching at scale.
Stepping into 2020, all of this is about to change. More and more brands are looking to scale their influencers marketing, which means there is no time to waste. Influencer marketing tools like Upfluence will be an important investment for brands and agencies to focus more on actual relationship building and campaign managing.
What are the new challenges?
Moving into 2020 and onwards, influencer marketing is predicted to continuously expand and evolve as an industry. According to Business Insider’s estimation based on Mediakix data, brands are projected to spend up to $15 Billion on influencer marketing in 2022. However, for its size, influencer marketing is still a very new industry.
For brands and agencies who are already familiar with influencer marketing, 2020 is a great year to scale their efforts. However, the industry’s rapid growth can be challenging for new brands who want to break into the industry. Having a lot of resources can be great – but it can also drown brands in too much information.
For this reason, we advise brands to take time with their research, understand their goals, and know that every single element of influencer marketing is unique to each business’s needs.
Our general takeaway for 2020?
Influencer marketing in 2020 in our prediction will have a heavy emphasis on niche influencers, high-quality content, long-term partnerships, and overall more efficient influencer management systems.
As the industry expands and transforms in the upcoming years, we are ready. At Upfluence, we offer businesses flexible tools to do influencer marketing that fits your business and adapts with time. Using our AI-powered software, you can efficiently find the perfect influencers, save time on outreach, nurture relationships, and track your campaign performance effectively.
2020 is all about new opportunities to learn, grow, and succeed. Are you ready?