With the rise of ad blockers and decline in radio and TV viewership, influencer marketing has proven to be the most effective form of advertising. It was on every trend list in 2017 and will continue to be a focus of smart marketers in 2018.
I asked the top influencers, the marketing thought leaders, and the industry insiders where they thought influencer marketing was headed in 2018 and beyond.
Here’s what they had to say:
Rachel Levin– Social media star with 20 million followers on social: For 2018, I don’t believe that there is any specific set influencer marketing trend that will appear, aside from: There will more influencers used in every company’s basic marketing strategy. More and more people are learning the power that influencers have. I believe that it will be rare for any brand to launch a campaign that doesn’t involve at lease one social media influencer. The trajectory is going to grow steeper and steeper as more and more small companies are starting to do things in this new way; which is social media.
Lauren Riihimaki, known as LaurDIY– Social media star with 15 million followers on social: Influencer marketing has evolved a lot this year. Some of my favorite brands are only now getting into it and it’s been amazing to work with them and see them find major success. I’ve also been lucky enough to find some amazing longer-term partnerships, like Mudd and Fanta, where I’m able to become an ambassador for the brand and help them build a relationship with my audience. Instead of working on a bunch of smaller campaigns, with a lot of influencers, brands are starting to see the value in aligning with a few really great creators that they can trust and that reflect their views. I’m really looking forward to being able to announce some of the projects I’m about to start working on with some incredible brands!
Wengie– YouTuber with over 12 million followers on social: The trend I see is influencers trying new things! They are using their audience to develop their passions, whether it’s acting, singing or writing. I’m seeing influencers do really well in a new space which is interesting because many are going solo, not needing the distribution machine that talent has needed in the past, like record labels or publishing houses.
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DeStorm Power– YouTuber with over 12 million followers on social: I see influencers showing their star power by competing with the traditional media by doing even bigger campaigns. From commercials to billboards they’ll show they can go just as big.
Charlie Xavier (aka WOLFIE)– YouTube comedian with over 8 million followers on social: Big brands continued to dabble in the space with micro-budgets in 2017; testing influencer marketing for the first time. We’re finally in a place where major brands have now completed their “proof of concept” campaigns and will be shifting a massive piece of their budgets from mainstream marketing over to influencers. Next year is going to be our year, as creators. I’m excited to see what comes and to see how the brands who really “get it” will execute breakthrough ideas that continue to push the boundaries of advertising and marketing.
Karina Garcia– YouTuber with over 7 million followers on social: From where I’m situated, I’ve noticed an increase in brands looking to produce family-friendly branded content. My connection with my fans is extremely personal. In order to provide an authentic experience for the fans, as well as provide a return on investment for the brand, I believe we’ll see more and more brands establishing long-term relationships with individual creators instead of enlisting a large number of talent to create one-off pieces of content. My area of focus, DIY and crafting, is a perfect bridge between the digital and real world because it allows my fans to use their hands to replicate the different projects. This high level of interactivity provides the fans with a less passive experience than typical video content and the brand with a longer and more meaningful impression on their target audience.
Erika Costell– Social media star with over 6 million followers on social: The quality and production value of integrated content will be enhanced in 2018. Now that there are more and more mediums for content every day, our viewers are expecting a higher production value; some sort of juxtaposition of normal everyday or bedroom vlogs, mixed with Hollywood sets, where there is still room for a personal element in the content.
Nikki Phillippi– YouTuber with over 2 million followers on social: Digital marketing has changed so much since I started working with brands 6 years ago. The biggest change I’ve seen is that they understand that the space is actually valuable and important to be in now! Because of that, there is so much more opportunity for influencers to make a living by connecting with incredible brands. It has been interesting to watch the digital landscape change and evolve throughout the years and now see companies really start to “get it.” In the coming months/year, I think that brands are not only going to continue working with influencers, but I think they’re going to start doing it in a bigger way and collaborate on larger more long- term deals.
Marketing Thought Leaders:
Murray Newlands– Entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and marketing guru: As more advertising dollars move to influencer marketing, 2018 will be the year where brands truly start to look beyond likes and follower counts and begin to focus on engagement…On the consumer side we are seeing consumers start to look for greater authenticity from influencers and to try and look beyond the post to what the influencer actually likes and what their day is like…This will provide an opportunity for brands to find even more novels ways to feature products in the lives and routines of influencers and drive customer engagement.
Cynthia Johnson– Entrepreneur, marketing professional, author, and keynote speaker: It won’t enough to just pay someone to post anymore; Brand ambassadors will be necessary. The rise in personnel branding will also continue to be more important. The use of micro-influencers will continue to rise. Finally, I see live video, or real experiences, being the ideal way to consume content and work with brands.
John Rampton– Entrepreneur, connector, influencer: With influencer marketing likes, clicks, engagement and comments mean nothing if it’s not generating revenue. Focus your efforts on driving likes, clicks, comments and different types of engagement that actually drives top line revenue to your business. If you’re not driving dollars, eventually you’ll run out of it.
Jeff Haden– Ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn influencer, contributing editor Inc: I see influencer marketing as less of a one-off tactic and part of a longer-term strategy. One tweet, one share, one testimonial, event-driven tactics naturally provide short-term and therefore limited results. Shifting to a longer-term approach that builds a relationship with an influencer – and therefore with customers – is much more effective. Take Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett. He’s used Ernie Ball guitar strings for over 30 years. He’s done videos for Ernie Ball: Not just short promotion-heavy shots, but longer-form content with genuine emotional depth and connection. He’s done “stunt” videos that went viral in the music community. Why? He loves the strings and appreciates the company. So if I’m a Metallica fan, if I’m a Kirk fan, and I enjoy playing guitar…which strings will I buy? Ernie Ball. Using influencer marketing — and genuine influences — as part of a long-term strategy will create long-term results. And isn’t that what you’re really want when you’re trying to build an authentic brand?