2016 was an amazing year for influencer marketing, as evidenced from the flurry of companies that arose touting their wares.
Not even the changes in algorithms on various social platforms, Federal Trade Commission compliance crackdowns or questions over return on investment stopped companies from jumping into the realm of working with influencers.
But what excitement will 2017 hold?
Influencers could save Twitter
Who will buy Twitter and save it from the death everyone has been talking about for years? So far, there have been no takers, but Twitter has been making moves to attract influencers to the platform (for example, announcing a generous 70/30 revenue split in August). Even Twitter isn’t immune to the excitement of influencers.
The demise of Vine and Twitter’s pending acquisition, which is so far a nonevent, might completely wipe the platform out from the influencer marketing platform race, but Twitter Moments feeds the curated news appetite of many audiences and remains a favorite platform of celebrities, politicians and anyone with a passionate cause.
We’ll see a Snapchat vs. Instagram showdown
Which platform will “win” for influencer marketing in 2017, especially as influencers are flocking to other platforms as a result of Vine?
Snapchat’s growth has been tremendous this year, but Instagram is a much easier platform to learn and navigate than Snapchat, and its influencers are more established.
Facebook, a seasoned behemoth, knows a thing or two about audience growth/engagement and monetization, and it is lending Instagram its years of experience, which should ensure its success.
TrackMaven recently analyzed more than 51 million Instagram posts, and Instagram is leading the way for engagement over all social platforms at a rate of 70 interactions per thousand followers. Our testing of influencers on both platforms shows that Instagram in the lead, as well, and it is aggressively attacking the social commerce of the platform, which is ideal for driving purchase. Our vote is Instagram in the long run.
B2B influencers will make a bigger play in 2017
Influencer marketing has traditionally been used by consumer brands, but business-to-business companies will start to take advantage of it in 2017.
The FTC will need to catch up to the B2B industry influencers and make them disclose their payments for conference speaking, free flights and hotel stays—in the same way it does for business-to-consumer, which will be another tough thing for it to monitor. These influencers can often demand a pretty penny for you to associate your brand with theirs, and ultimately, you end up promoting/benefiting their brand instead of yours.
That said, B2B influencers are great for networking and ideation. Leveraging their name and commentary can be a boon for sending traffic to your website, where you’ll have to see if the leads are valuable and convertible to sales.
Livestreaming influencers will become mainstream
Influencers are already flocking to livestreaming. It’s much easier for an influencer to broadcast himself or herself on Facebook Live than to learn to shoot video and edit.
But livestreams make tracking compliance even more complicated for the FTC. Disclosing sponsorships on livestreaming should be no different than any other platform, but we can expect some bumps in the road in 2017. Influencers and brands are bound to run into trouble if they don’t stay true to the guidelines.
We still won’t reach a standard method of payment
The industry may never reach a standard method of payment for influencer campaigns, but will anything change in 2017? Doubtful. So, how do you put a price on someone’s influence, audience size, engagement or the quality of his or her content? Is Kim Kardashian worth the reported $300,000 per post she receives?
Regardless of the payment model, influencer companies should be taking on the risk and employing incentives to encourage influencers to work on behalf of brands in an honest and transparent way, as well as measuring and motivating them to produce their best work.
Compliance will finally be taken seriously
2017 will be the year that brands stop working with noncompliant influencers, influencers stop working with noncompliant brands and agencies and everyone accepts their own accountability for the FTC guidelines.
This year saw several big brands get slapped with significant fines, but monitoring the hundreds of thousands of influencers and the proliferation of their content is a near impossible task.
The risk to the industry is great, especially if advertisers and brands feel that the industry is less than ethical, so it’s paramount that everyone from brands, digital agencies, public-relations firms and influencer marketing companies toe the line. And influencers need to obey the rules to help ensure their business.
Data will prove influencer marketing’s actual worth
With marketers becoming more accountable for ROI and sales, 2017 will be the year that data will show the strength of influencer marketing beyond the beauty of it being impervious to ad blocking or mere social engagements. But we will all need to meet somewhere in the middle.
Brands eager to understand influencer marketing’s impact on sales will need to be more willing to disclose POS (point-of-sale) data, for example. At the same time, influencer marketing companies will need to get a grip on a deeper understanding of the influencer’s audience or the potential of dark social’s impact on measurement.
Strategy will become critical for influencer marketing success
Celebrity influencers? Micro-influencers? Power middle influencers? When it comes down to it, there shouldn’t be a fight over which type is the best. Each can play a role a brand’s success, but it takes careful planning, setting clear objectives, mapping out a channel strategy and aligning the right influencers.
Influencer marketing can be part of a content strategy, a social strategy, a PR strategy or audience growth strategy while helping to amplify everything from traditional advertising or in-store/online shopper marketing efforts.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.