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Arguably the Year of Influencer Marketing, 2016 took the strategy from early adopter stage to primary tactic among mainstream marketers, with big shifts in the way brands and bloggers view collaborations along the way. This year saw the rise of micro-influencers, a serious look at disclosure, and the fall of social media agencies as the intermediary between brands and bloggers.
In the year ahead, we expect to see Influencer Marketing shift from merely a channel for marketers to a thoughtful strategy. Rather than working from collaboration to collaboration, campaign to campaign or month to month, we will see more holistic approaches with clear outcomes and more relationship building. Based on that change in mindset, here’s a look at the biggest shifts we expect to see over the next year:
More Blogger-Owned Content
If 2016 proved anything, it's that social channels are unpredictable. From the disruption of a new search algorithm to the sudden rise (or fall) in popularity of a platform, staying ahead of the game as a social influencer or marketer isn’t easy. To combat this unpredictability and to regain ownership of their own content, influencers will focus more heavily on their own domains in 2017, building their blog traffic and integrating posts into collaborations alongside Instagram, Pinterest and other channels.
More Micro-Influencer Collaborations
As analytics on influencer engagement have become more readily available to brands, marketers who once sought only high-influence bloggers are now thinking smaller and mid-tier. Micro-influencers have smaller audiences than their mainstream counterparts, but these audiences can be deeply engaged, leading to greater brand interest, stronger sales and more value for money. Working with micro-influencers also allows you to engage consumers in more than one geographic area or social demographic with the same budget. Expect to see this strategy flourish over the next year.
More Multi-Channel Collaborations
As video becomes a bigger part of influencer content and brands begin to think more broadly about what they can achieve with influencer marketing, expect to see more multi-channel collaborations. A single campaign might include an influencer event, blog and social content, and an affiliate marketing component to promote both engagement and sales. Where the last year focused largely on single-channel content like Instagram posts, the next year will see this content develop into full-blown campaigns for brands who seek professional content and SEO for their own sites in addition to influencer promotion.
As influencer marketing becomes a more commonly used strategy, the standards around disclosure have become a lot more clearly defined. Although established by various governing bodies in major world markets, the laws across all regions express the same sentiment: clear disclosure of a brand-blogger relationship is required for every post - Read more about disclosure laws here.
The shift toward uniform disclosure laws has been a struggle for early adopters of influencer marketing, who were used to making their own rules, but as ‘failing to disclose’ becomes more risky, and therefore more expensive, we expect disclosure to become fully adopted in 2017. We will also see more influencers taking a leading role in this as well as they see their audience responding positively to the transparency. Some influencers are already taking this lead by including disclosure in Instagram Stories as well.
Stronger Brand-Influencer Relationships
Influencer marketing evolved significantly in the last year, shifting from an industry managed by social media agencies who oversaw the relationships between brands and bloggers, to one where brands and influencers can have much more direct relationships. Thanks to influencer marketing platforms like our own, brands can get influencer feedback and create more genuine content. Shopping Links also allows brands and bloggers to work more easily together on future collaborations, which fosters stronger, more organic relationships. We foresee long-term relationships as becoming a more important part of influencer marketing over the next year. In these relationships, influencers form ambassador-type relationships with brands, where they work to promote a message over a number of posts, campaigns and months. This is especially important as Influencer Marketing becomes a more saturated channel.
Greater measurements of ROI
We envisage we will also start to see marketers looking for how they can measure the full value of their efforts — not just in terms of sales but relationships, engagement, brand sentiment and awareness. Influencer marketing is a more long-term approach and strategy, not just a channel now, and measuring the return requires looking at many facets of the campaign. We at Shopping Links have responded to this shift by adding a new Collaborations Results page, which shows even greater insight into how each collaboration has performed, including the social media impact, the web analytics and the sales data for each influencer appointed across all major social platforms.
Interested in learning how influencer marketing can help your brand in 2017? Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to help.