'Players will drop off' - Influencer marketing predictions for 2018

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 31 December 2017
Chloe Morello is a popular Australian beauty blogger

The booming business practice of influencer marketing has experienced another year of growth in 2017 and it's not likely to slow down for 2018, with 40% of marketers looking to up their spend on the channel.

In 2017, an influencer agency created two fake Instagram accounts and secured paid brand endorsement deals to show how easy it is to be scammed.

Social Diary founder Tiffany Farrington predicts below that in 2018 influencers will be more heavily scrutinised and the industry will become more intolerant of fraudulant followers, likes and engagement.

Transparency was a huge theme throughout adland in 2017and it's one that will impact influencer marketing in 2018 as marketers consider how they should measure the success of their campaigns. Driven by the request of marketers, influencer marketing will have to improve its metrics and move beyond 'Likes'.

In 2017, Instagram tested and introduced a sponsored post tag that enabled influencers to be more upfront with their paid endorsement deals. The move followed a global call for tougher influencer marketing guidelines.

More influencer marketing businesses launched in 2017 such as Gravitas, hoping to tap into the lucrative market. The Remarkables founder Lorraine Murphy predicts that not every business will survive and expects some players to drop off.

Murphy was on the money with her prediction, with Nuffnang announcing late in 2017 that it would be exiting Australia.

While there may be more consolidation to come, 2017 saw global expansions for Tribe and Vamp as they opened offices in the UK.

Many below predict that influencer marketing will move from a one campaign approach to a long-term play for brands and adopt an "always-on strategy". We Are Social MD even predicts that influencers could hold the key to mainstream media organisations reinventing themselves. 

See all the predictions below from Social Soup, The Remarkables, Tribe, Vamp and more:

Tribe CEO Anthony Svirskis 

For two years marketers have approached the industry with a ‘test and learn’ mentality; this is now rapidly changing to six figure budgets and influencer marketing inclusion on 2018 media plans. It’s perfectly timed with Instagram set to further legitimise the category by releasing rich insights so we can once and for all measure performance against all social advertising. The industry will then expand into influencer general content which presents a whole new world of opportunity.

Vamp founder Aaron Brooks

Social platforms will conform to the channel and allow ease of use for influencers. We have already seen Instagram introducing transparency features for influencers to disclose paid partnerships and Facebook creating apps for influencers to easily produce live content. Watch this space. More integrated campaigns. Brands will start to further leverage the power of influencer marketing by utilising content in multiple channels long after the influencers have posted. We’ll see more influencer content being used in paid social, eDM's, website etc. Always on influencer strategy. Brands are already investing in influencer marketing but we will see them make it part of their year long plan. Brands will assign budgets to allow for continuous initiatives that put their brand front of mind across social platforms.

The Remarkables founder Lorraine Murphy

Next year will see the launch of more automated platforms, until it reaches saturation point. Some players will then drop off and clear stratas will emerge. As budgets increase for influencer activity, there will be more expectation for that activity to deliver. In 2018 we will be including external research across all long-term activity to accurately and independently quantify success. Fresh voices are growing in popularity on LinkedIn and grabbing the attention of brands. 2018 will see brands effectively leveraging those voices for the first time. We expect the hockey-stick growth of Australian-based channels to continue into 2018. With the testing of Facebook's second newsfeed in recent weeks, YouTube may be the last channel that prefers the content creator over paid budgets.

The Right Fit CEO Taryn Williams

Influencer marketing is at an all-time high but we’ve only just scratched the surface. With most brands on board and now reaping the results of effective influencer marketing campaigns, we’ll see brands diversifying their channel mix with many marketers adding YouTube branded content campaigns into the mix. On Instagram we’ll see influencers with the highest engagement rates reign supreme due to the many algorithm updates favouring quality content. One final thing, we’ll continue to see a shift in the perception of influencers. You’ll be calling influencers ‘creators’ in 2018 signifying their ability to create content that resonates.

We are Social MD Suzie Shaw

A key opportunity we see for brands in the influencer space is to develop bigger and more far-reaching partnerships, enabling brands to further draw on influencers’ exceptional capabilities in creating content and building audiences. We’ve seen this beginning to happen in the US with movie studios casting influencers in blockbuster films and media entities like CNN partnering with the likes of Casey Neistat to learn to tell news to new audiences. At the moment, relationships between brands and influencers remain relatively transactional, with a pay-per-post approach. The opportunity is to develop true partnerships, where each party can benefit and learn from the other. Brands should consider bringing influencers into their organisation, truly collaborating on things like product and promotional development. And in our view, influencers could hold the keys to mainstream media organisations reinventing themselves.

Social Diary founder Tiffany Farrington

Influencers will be more heavily scrutinised as brands, agencies and consumers become more intolerant of blatant fraud via the buying of followers, likes and engagement – and the rampant use of bots. Software to deep dive social media accounts and methods of exposing the frauds will continue to improve. An ideal result would be that influencers stand by their own stats by making them public or via the use of an authentication tick.

Hypetap co-founder Detch Singh

Now that influencer marketing has cemented its place in the core marketing mix, the coming year will be all about sophistication. In terms of campaign structure, this will mean incorporating multiple tiers of influencers for different elements of a campaign rather than focusing on one tier alone. More importantly, data and technology will help the category take more of a lead role amongst digital channels. By that I mean:

1. Sophisticated algorithms to assess audiences and real, deep engagement
2. Big data, AI and benchmarking to help match influencers to brands, and measure campaign success

These factors will be key to conducting strong influencer marketing campaigns in 2018.

Social Soup founder Sharyn Smith

Three words for influencer marketing in 2018 are scale, accountability and integration. We’ll see clients wanting bigger integrated influence programs, diverse tiers of influencers and allocating greater budgets. With this growth comes the need for accountability from agencies/platforms to show results and the influencers to deliver high quality content with recommendation-led access to engaged audiences. The industry will move beyond reach and focus on impactful metrics such as engagement, comment sentiment and business results. Micro influencers will continue to fuel the impact for clients with Instagram stories emerging to drive real traffic for brands with the swipe up feature. Influencer Generated Content (IGC) will become integrated with digital/social strategies and we’ll see influence driving the biggest marketing results for clients.

Gravitas founder Tessa Cavalot

Content marketing will become an increasingly data-driven platform. The power of predictive analytics which marketers will become increasingly important. Therefore marketers will need to look to macros (over micros) who have a following on other platforms, not only Instagram but more importantly well-established blogs, to provide them with a realistic ROI. In the same breath, these trusted voices and their blogs will need to understand the return of search, to stay on top of the ever-changing algorithms an open platform versus Facebook and Instagram algorithms which is a closed platform.

Former Nuffnang MD Chris Morfis 

With a focus on measurement, what we are seeing to the end of 2017 and what we believe will drive growth in 2018 is a focus on numbers as media agencies take control of influencer planning and budgets. More and more campaigns are planned as a component of the overall communication plan. In addition, as platforms and third party tools provide a greater understanding to what success looks like, what we will see in 2018 is a swing back to true influencers as investment decisions are validated through data.

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