According to a 2016 CHUTE and THUZIO study mentioned in a recent Forbes article, 66% of marketers have employed an influencer marketing strategy at some point already. What’s more, 50% of brands are expected to increase their investment in influencer marketing this year. It’s clear that the use of influencers is prevalent among marketers and continues to grow significantly. Brands hire influencers – often, social media personalities – to create buzz around their products and attract new, young audiences. As the use of influencer marketing continues to grow, there are several trends to expect in 2017.
According to the Forbes article, one thing we can expect in the ever-growing world of influencer marketing is that influencers will have a harder time getting noticed. This means influencers will need to differentiate themselves by branching out to new areas of focus, and expanding into larger lifestyle segments, while maintaining “a distinct point of view” and not “[being] afraid to be themselves,” according to
AwesomenessTV’s Chief Revenue Officer Max Polisar in the Forbes article. Another 2017 trend that the article foresees is that there will be more branded content than ever. The article discusses the increasing use of branded TV series, which are essentially giant commercials with interesting characters and a good story, such as AwesomenessTV’s scripted series Royal Crush. While the idea of this sounds off-putting, it doesn’t stray too far from the concept of sponsored TV shows and product placement.
Furthermore, the article suggests that in 2017, the line between influencers and celebrities will be blurred. Influencers are typically known for being themselves and have a higher level of engagement with brands, while celebrities are better known for what they do. However, with celebrities increasingly creating personal presence on social media, the distinction is becoming harder to recognize. The article also predicts that influencer marketing will utilize live video more in 2017. Lastly, in 2017 we can expect the marketing metrics used to evaluate influencer marketing to change from traditional marketing metrics, to cost per engagement models. These metrics, according to the article, will be more accurate for influencer marketing. New standards for reach and engagement metrics are also expected to emerge to allow comparisons across the various social media platforms used by influencers.
Overall, one thing is clear – influencer marketing, while already prominent, will continue growing in 2017. However, brands must be cautious when employing such a marketing strategy, since it requires the brand to surrender a high level of control to the influencer. Brands ultimately can’t, and should not, dictate how exactly the influencer can behave, since the essence of influencer marketing lies in the influencer’s own personality and behavior. In a recent instance discussed in another Forbes article, many brands – including Disney and Google – have experienced firsthand the risks involved with influencer marketing. YouTuber and influencer Felix Kjellberg, popularly known as PewDiePie, made anti-Semitic comments in his videos and posts. Disney and Google have chosen to distance themselves from the influencer, as they do not want to be associated with the YouTuber’s sentiments. To protect themselves as best they can, brands should clearly communicate expectations and boundaries to their influencers.
From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:
- How can a brand benefit from the use of influencer marketing?
- Research other well-known brands that use influencer marketing. What markets do they seem to be targeting with the influencer marketing strategy?
- In your opinion, do the benefits of influencer marketing outweigh the risks involved? Why or why not?