Traditional advertising can no longer give brands the much-needed publicity. As technology advances, businesses are finding better and more effective ways to reach consumers. For instance, consider the traditional word of mouth marketing approach. For 100`s of years, word of mouth has been a much more effective method of marketing. Through technology, it has evolved to include what we call influencer marketing.
As technology advances, we expect to see new trends in Influencer Marketing. In any new technological advancement, the early adopters are, of course, more advantaged. Therefore, there is a need for businesses to keenly study how the current marketing strategies are evolving to make sure they are the first to take on the new trends. So, what is the future of Influencer marketing?
Before we study what the future holds for influencer marketing, it is important that we take a look at what marketing has been like. The Internet brought about online ads. However, today`s consumer feels annoyed and bored by ads. This led to the development of ad blocking software. Ideally, the modern day consumer, Gen Zers, and Millennials, prefer content that comes from sources they trust and those with authority. For instance, a celebrity has more power that influences purchasing decision among today`s consumers with purchasing power.
As businesses realized the power vested in social media superstars, the influencer marketing industry was born. Businesses focused their efforts into partnerships with individuals who had developed loyal followings. The future of influencer marketing greatly depends upon technology to reach consumers.
Therefore, as we see new trends in digital technology, we also expect new trends in influencer marketing. In this article, we examine the future of influencer marketing. Here is a forecast of how it will look like in future.
#1 Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will Become part of the Larger Space
The future of influencer marketing is getting brighter courtesy of emerging technologies. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will become part of the larger bandwagon that drives influencer marketing. Augmented Reality is a superimposition of digital data and objects into a real-time camera view of a live environment (Finn). Virtual Reality and AR will actually improve influencer marketing going into the future.
Ideally, the two technologies will enable better and trust-based relationships between the influencers and consumers. Trust and authority are the two most important factors behind the success of influencer marketing. The modern consumer, Gen Zers, and Millennials rely on the established trust from authoritative sources. The VR and AR will enable this as the two technologies have gained wide acceptance among these generations. The best approach for marketers to take advantage of the increased popularity of AR and VR is tapping into AR and VR driven influencer marketing.
Brands have already shown high interest in hosting events that are attended by influencers. These events are broadcasted through live shows on social media, and they attract millions of views.
Now, imagine what the impact will be like if influencers are able to view themselves seated next to the influencer as the event unfolds. VR and AR offer 360 degree cameras, enabling this to happen. This is the future of influencer marketing. Ideally, this has a higher potential of driving more engagements.
Basically, VR headsets are becoming more affordable, and the smartphone will enable AR soon. Marketing agencies have therefore started making use of these technologies to improve influencer marketing.
Ben Rueck (benrueck) is an established rock climber with different skills. He featured on Adidas VR experience which was aiming at promoting the Adidas Outdoor Terex Collection. A 360 footage of him ascent of mount Bavellas was recorded giving their followers a chance to virtually step into their shoes and take on the mountain. This was a great experience that connects the brand to their consumers and leaving them with unforgettable memories.
#2 Problem Solving Artificial Intelligence Will Play a Critical Role in Influencer marketing
There is a lot of clutter that brands have to sort out to find suitable content creator to achieve maximum user engagement. It is not possible for marketers to skim through this clutter without Artificial Intelligence (AI). Through problem-solving algorithms (AI), marketers will be able to process data and images. This will be done to identify the character and personality of influencers. For a marketer, finding the right influencer has become a huge hurdle (Isabella).
In addition, it will be possible to identify how the character and personality best suits the brand they want to market. On the other side, influencer marketing should ensure contextual relevance to succeed. Ideally, brands have to ensure they find the right and most perfect influencer that match their product and consumer interests. So how can brands ensure they achieve this? The best technology to deploy will be AI.
Therefore, the future of influencer marketing on social media will greatly depend on AI and Machine Learning (ML). Machine Learning will be used to do deep analysis on social media to identify the social media superstars. Advanced AI algorithms will be needed to ensure marketers find out the social media influencers that best suits their brands followers.
Ideally, brands will need artificial intelligence to study what interests their followers most. By studying consumer interests, they can then use AI to identify the best-suited influencer that matches the brand DNA. This will ensure that brands get high ROI thanks to contextual relevance enabled by AI and Machine Learning algorithms.
A good example of application of AI in influencer marketing is Influential powered by IBM Watson. The company helps brands to find most suitable social media influencers. One of the top influencers featured on influential is Chiara Ferragni (chiaraferragni) who is a fashion influencer. Her personality is self enhancement, activity level ideal and stability. She has over 11.6 million followers on Instagram.
#3 Brands Will Embrace Single-Source Operating System
As influencer marketing becomes popular among brands, there is a high likelihood that technology will enable single sourcing. This will be enabled by the ability to use emerging technologies such as AI as a means for measuring influencer data and relating it to consumer needs.
In fact, this is gaining in popularity as we see the emergence of technology companies that focus on actualizing technology driven influencer marketing. The big brands will take lead in adoption of digital platforms to determine the influencers they associate with. In addition, similar digital technology will be used to manage the relationship between brands and influencers.
Therefore, the future of influencer marketing will largely depend on digital platforms to measure ROI. The brands will no longer need to speculate. Technically they will have the ability to choose the best influencers. This is from a central database of influencers that shows how different influencers are performing. Actually, this is what has been missing to ensure the success of influencer marketing. Building an influencer identifying software and ensuring influencer campaign monitoring will help brands to achieve huge success.
The digital platforms will make it easier for brands to choose the influencers that best match their target audience. Therefore, there will be higher chances of achieving successful campaigns.
Virginia Salas Kastilio (ginicanbreathe) formed a consulting company that brings together top Snapchat influencers across the world. Companies have found highly valuable marketing knowledge from what her firm offers. She started as a snapchat influencer and later formed her company that links influencers to brands. Her clients include Yelp, BBC, Universal, Crowd mobile, and NASDAQ.
#4 More Regulations To Guide Social Media Influencer Marketing
In the year 2017, we saw US Federal Trade Commission crack down on influencer marketing. Is this the beginning of more sanctions governing social media IM? Basically, past experience is that governments in different regions refer to what their counterparts are doing.
In the recent crackdown, FTC expects that social media superstars become honest and let the consumer know they are paid to post marketing messages. FTC expects that if a social media ad features an endorser, who is related to the marketer then the influencer should indicate the connection. This is by using hashtags like #impartneringwith(brand) and #ad in their social media posts.
These new guidelines on influencer marketing indicate a beginning of more regulations to come. Italy is also monitoring social media influencer marketing. Italy Competition Authority (AGCM) has also indicated growing interest in introducing similar regulations on IM (Cesare).
So, what does this suggest to the future of influencer marketing? It is clear that governments have noticed the impact and power of IM and so we can expect more regulations to be introduced. Therefore, social media influencers should be keen to study regulations by authorities such as FTC and AGCM. Actually social media influencers are already aware of these regulations and are taking action as expected.
Instagram Influencer Sarah Peretz (sarah_peretz) said that “it is common to find influencers, who still don’t label their ads at all”. She also believes that the biggest challenge and a major reason not complying with FTC is that it is still not clear, who should educate influencers.
#5 Social Media Influencers will Switch to Video Content
We have seen live video and shows garner more engagements on social media. Social media influencers will take advantage of features like live broadcast to reach more audience. Studies have indicated that social media users prefer watching content to text and still images.
Therefore, it is important for the content developers to focus more efforts on using live video. Future of influencer marketing will largely become dominated by live content from the influencers.
The video content actually improves the relationship between influencers the brand and also the followers. Actually, the Gen X and Gen Zers are attracted to video content. Therefore, the trust they have for brands that engage them through authority figures will increase.
This means that social media influencers will achieve higher engagements, if they use video content. As brands take on video marketing, they should bring along the influencer aspect. Influencers will help in ensuring the content shared reaches the target audience.
Different platforms have introduced live video. Facebook introduced Facebook Live and Facebook Watch, which have already gained popularity among social media users. The social media influencers will take advantage of these features to target their followers and deliver marketing messages.
The future of influencer marketing will greatly depend on whether the influencers will take on the emerging technologies. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and AI are some of the technological advancements that play a huge role in shaping the future of influencer marketing. Therefore, brands should be on the fore front in ensuring they embrace these technologies. VR and AR help to improve the experience of consumers, by making it possible for them to interact with social media influencers.
On the other side, we have Artificial Intelligence, which improves how brands choose the influencers. Ideally, AI helps brands to pick the influencers with proper personality that blends well with their DNA. Through technologies like AI, there is a high possibility that brands will embrace single source platform when it comes to influencer marketing. Lastly, video will also become an integral component in the future of influencer marketing. We have seen brands taking on video successfully, and this proves that social media influencers can attain higher success by embracing the technology.
There has been speculation that emerging technologies such as AR, VR and advanced AI will impact IM negatively. In fact, some people speculate that adoption of these technologies in digital marketing will mark the end of IM. However, based on the above findings on the future of influencer marketing, we can clearly see that these technologies will be an enabler. Therefore, social media influencers should be ready to take on these technologies to achieve greater success.