Social media evolution and constantly changing customer preferences creates a number of challenges for marketers and in 2017 it's not going to get any easier. Ad blockers, a decline in popularity of traditional media, and more sophisticated tastes from audiences require effective measures - aggressive enough to beat the competitors, and subtle enough to avoid excessive advertising that can put a customer off.
Influencer marketing can be considered as one of the strongest tools in today's digital environment. The phenomenon has occurred relatively naturally - bloggers and celebrities have been looking to monetize, whilst marketers have been searching for additional tools to drive brand awareness. Once combined, it has become such a powerful marketing symbiosis that according to a study by eMarketer, 85% of marketers worldwide are going to execute at least one influencer marketing campaign this year.
The concept is about spreading the product through word of mouth from the right person, on the right social media channel, to the right audience. The research on your target audience, in this case, is paramount and must result in detailed information about what kind of posts people like, what tweets they retweet, who they follow, and why. After this, a hunt for the right 'influencer' can begin.
Collaborations with celebrities and notable people are not new and have been serving as pillars of marketing for years, but it's not the traditional advertising we are talking about - influencer marketing is performed through a 'middle man'. Equipped with a large follower base and influence, a hired 'influencer' is capable of spreading a word about a particular product in a form of a recommendation or portray it as part of their lifestyle. The concept is similar to the high school 'social hierarchy', where socially popular groups encourage other peers to like what they like. With regards to marketing, the method is highly effective and looks more organic in the eyes of the audience than direct advertising.
What to expect from influencer marketing this year?
The trend will continue to evolve and is likely to continue growing in popularity. From a marketer's perspective, it offers unique access to the right kind of audience through targeted exposure. Unlike radio or television, where people are likely to switch channels or leave the room when adverts are on, influencer marketing is capable of retaining an audience’s attention from start to finish. Audiences are either unaware of being targeted or accept it as something that matches their following and personal preferences. This coming year the line between a recommendation and marketing is likely to become clearer as the FTC has brought in increasingly strict legislation about the labelling of marketing by influencers.
Influencer marketing is contributing to a growing trend of personal branding, where people don't have to be marketers or business leaders in order to monetize their published content. Attention spans are not growing shorter, they are being redistributed to particular types of media and individuals. As ad blockers will continue to stop publishers and brands from getting consumers' attention, it's highly likely that in 2017, influencer marketing will become a key marketing investment trend.