With 2019 rapidly nearing its completion, it’s about time we start to look forward to the new year where the newest and most exciting prospects are waiting to shake up the influencer marketing industry. This year alone we’ve witnessed brands pivoting toward collaborations with micro and nano-influencers, Instagram’s unveiling of a revamped IGTV platform, and of course, the rise of short-form video platform TikTok.
While the industry continues to evolve every day, we’ve listed five of the most widely predicted trends in influencer marketing (IM) that are set to become the norm for 2020. By understanding how each facet may affect IM, you can ensure that your strategies can continue to remain informed by the latest updates in technology whilst surprising your core audience.
2019 was a huge year for TikTok. Not only did its user base grow to 550 million users worldwide – a rise of 70% from the year before – but in January it was the most downloaded app in the Apple app store worldwide. The platform is particularly popular with teenage users, with 41% of its user base aged between 16 and 24 years old, and this as well as its novelty premise in prompting users to create original content surrounding challenges or music has inspired a whole new generation of creators to explore the short-form video format in a way not yet seen before.
Photo credit: Nic Kauffman
Never one to take a challenge lying down, Instagram has continued to refine its app to include better story-creation tools and has re-worked IGTV to be more user-friendly and inviting. Users are clearly responding more to video, but don’t just take our word for it. New research has shown the video posts generate more than double the engagement rate of image posts on Instagram, which is a figure that cannot be ignored considering the importance of engagement rates as a metric of success. Beyond this, it is predicted that by 2022, 82% of all consumer online traffic will come from online videos. Coupled with the fact that video consumption through mobile devices rises by 100% every year, the importance of including video content in your strategy can not be overlooked.
With TikTok offering users a novel experience in short-form video creation and IGTV allowing users to share videos of up to an hour-long, we’re excited to see how influencers will continue to push each format to its creative limits. As both platforms continue to explore new ways for creators to monetize their efforts, both services are bound to grow in popularity as new audiences are introduced to their own unique tools.
It may come as a surprise to some, but audiences aren’t just responding to the work of human influencers. In fact, in a recent study by HypeAuditor, it was revealed that Virtual Influencers have almost three times more engagement than human influencers. The most popular of the virtual influencers is Lil Miquela, who with 1.8 million followers has collaborated with brands from Spotify to Prada in promoting new music, television shows, fashion products, and charities. Another virtual influencer by the name of Noonoouri has acquired 334k followers on Instagram, collaborating with brands such as Versace and Dior in the process. With these digital creations earning so much attention, brands have begun to take notice.
Photo credit: This is Kenna
For one, the beauty brand Essence has recently unveiled their new virtual influencer Kenna, whose presence goes beyond the confines of promoting beauty products as she even shares snippets of her ‘life’ including her travels and hangouts with friends.
In November this year, Tommy Hilfiger’s Chief Executive Daniel Grieder revealed that they were developing an influencer program that will allow creators to build 3D influencer avatars. This new trend poses an interesting question on the nature of authenticity in influencer marketing.
While the allure of influencers has long been attributed to their realness and genuine relatability, it will be interesting to see how brands can develop virtual influencers that can act as trustworthy ambassadors while simultaneously connecting with users. For 2020, we predict the launch of many more brand owned virtual influencers.
Photo credit: Facebook
In 2018, Facebook launched its Brands Collabs Manager tool, which gave brands the power to search for content creators on Facebook and filter them by everything from their audience demographics to their current and former brand partners. Now, they’ve expanded this tool to include Instagram influencers, securing themselves firmly in the influencer marketing sphere. While they have surely taken their time to do so, it is clear that Facebook is positioning itself as a powerful player in the industry, whose control of both platforms means that they can in some way set the rules of the game.
One of their latest power moves was their decision to hide likes on Instagram. Although they claimed their intention was to create a healthier online space, in reality, many believe it was to promote wider user engagement and in turn, boost advertising revenue. The removal of the public like count has been controversial in the influencer marketing world, with some influencers and celebrities even going as far as to threaten boycotts until they are reinstated. This is because likes have been an important key performance indicator (KPI) to influencers in communicating their worth and campaign success to brands. However, with likes still being available to creators, they haven’t entirely lost their value as a KPI, as they can be manually reported to brands.
On top of this, Facebook has recently announced that it has banned influencers from promoting tobacco and vaping products on its platforms, as well as added tighter restrictions on promoting alcohol and diet supplements. These decisions are bound to have widespread consequences in the industry, as Facebook takes a greater role in setting parameters for what is acceptable to advertise with creators on Facebook and Instagram.
While there is still no news yet on when likes will be fully hidden in Europe, a report from November this year suggests that a global test of like-hiding is imminent. This is bound to add greater value to the insights provided by Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager, which will erase the potential for dishonest influencers to communicate warped analytics with brands and provide much more reliable data. As Facebook ramps up its participation in the industry in the new year, it’s hard to say what new tools, rules, and features will govern influencer marketing.
Photo credit: Gerd Altmann
For years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been touted to revolutionize everything from business, medicine, technology, and society. In fact, AI is set to be a $3.9 trillion industry by 2022. As the potential of AI is steadily embraced by more industries around the world, it is clear that influencer marketing will benefit too from the promise of the insights it can provide. So far, it looks as though the best implementation of AI technology in influencer marketing campaigns is in the planning stage.
Where before, brands may have been drawn to certain influencers due to their follower count or engagement rates, these metrics are no longer entirely reliable in determining the true potential of the influencer’s ability to communicate a brand’s message. For brands, what is becoming increasingly more important is the quality of the influencer’s content, the affinity of their personality and content to the brand’s values and their creativity. This is where AI comes in. For one, AI provides the backbone to image recognition technology that can scan an influencer’s entire catalog and provide a report of their shared or individual characteristics, including everything from the environments or products included in the content. As well as this, it can see how their audiences respond to these characteristics and essentially create a profile of the influencer’s follower base.
By cataloging users and their audience based on their demographics, locations, interests, industries and brand affinities, AI can provide a much more accurate summation of an influencer-brand fit and in much less time than it would take for humans to do so. AI can also analyze an influencer’s ad saturation, meaning how many ads they post in comparison to personal content, and then gauge how this may impact the success of a campaign with them. In fact, we believe that brands will focus on the ad saturation of an influencer way stronger in 2020.
With all of these factors combined and much more, AI can and is being used by influencer marketing platforms to better align brands and influencers and make accurate predictions about what will resonate with audiences as well as the return of investment on campaigns. When it comes to the planning stages of influencer marketing campaigns, there is nothing set to revolutionize the process quite like Artificial Intelligence in 2020.
As influencer marketing reaches a new stage in its maturity, both brands and influencers have begun to realize the benefits of forming long-lasting relationships with each other. For one, longer relationships create deeper relationships, and when this trust exists between both parties, the authenticity of their mutual respect shines through in the content. A shared sense of loyalty provides security for both parties, allowing influencers to exercise more discretion in choosing which other brands to collaborate with whilst giving brands peace of mind that their collaborative creator will, as a track record proves, continue to promote their product in an engaged, unique manner.
Photo credit: Zalando Get The Look
A recent study by marketing research company Forrester found that more brands were moving toward long-term relationships with their influencers because of exactly this reason. Zalando, for example, has embraced this collaborative model with its Get The Look initiative. Here, more than 40 influencers in the DACH region regularly curate inspired outfits that can be purchased through the website. These looks are usually featured on the influencer’s personal Instagram pages too, creating a holistic experience that further aligns the brand and the influencer as a collaborative entity in the audience’s mind as opposed to showcasing single curations by one-off collaborators whose styling abilities will not be seen again. We believe that long-lasting collaborations will become the norm in 2020 as influencer-brand recognition increases, creating a more authentic collaboration in the long term. This authenticity will undoubtedly be perceived by IM-aware audiences and increase the relatability of influencers as brand ambassadors.
Audiences, creators and brands can look forward to the potential that these five trends will have in 2020. Whether they’re as a result of changing attitudes toward long-term collaborations or evolutions in technology, influencer marketing will continue to flout its value as a modern marketing industry grounded in a genuine connection to audiences and forward-thinking strategy.
By knowing this, it’s probably the best time to start planning your upcoming year of influencer marketing. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you with more information about how to get all set and done.