Ask again later. My sources say no. Reply hazy, try again. You know what, this Magic Eight Ball is no help whatsoever — in order to peer into the future of influencer marketing, we’re just going to have to rely on experience, expertise, and … okay, maybe a little good old-fashioned guesswork.
Influencer and content marketing is going to be bigger than ever in 2016, with more and more brands discovering the power of using the right storytellers. 59% of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next 12 months, and businesses of all sizes will be using social media influencers to help spark conversations around products, promotions, and messaging. Influencer marketing isn’t just the fastest-growing channel for customer acquisition, it’s the most cost effective.
As industry continues to evolve and grow (and marketers scramble to keep up!), here are 5 influencer marketing trends we predict for the coming year:
1. Improved measurement. In 2016, marketers will have a better grasp of their programs’ ROI across various social platforms. Many brands have been using dated social media measurement protocols that were developed years ago, before we had a full understanding of what could be measured. As networks continue to update and open their APIs to better assist in metric gathering, we’re going to see continued improvements in how brands can analyze campaign results. For example, Pinterest and Facebook are both staged to open up additional analytic insights, which should provide marketers with a deeper and more realistic sense of how campaigns are performing. Stronger measurement will help influencers, brands, and agencies alike to design smarter, more effective campaigns.
2. Influencers as brand content creators. Brands will increasingly use influencers as a virtual content creation staff, with the aim of turning brand-owned sites into content hubs with dynamic and compelling stories, images, and video. Social media amplification from influencers will drive traffic to brand-owned sites instead of influencer-owned blog posts.
3. A seat for content marketing agencies at the brand table. With more brands outsourcing influencer recruitment, campaign creation, and project management, content marketing agencies will become strategic partners who are integral to the inter-agency discussion.
4. Fewer blog-only programs. As blogs become just another platform rather than a primary audience destination, we’ll see a continued increase in programs that are executed on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, Snapchat, YouTube, and other networks. Agencies skilled in developing cross-channel campaigns will become integral to brands creating their ideal social marketing mix.
5. Platform agnosticism, especially when it comes to video. No single network, web service, or technology has a monopoly on attention, and if we can make one prediction for 2016 with absolute certainty, it’s that the landscape will continue to be ever-changing. Brands will recognize that it’s far more important to focus on the quality of their content rather than the channel of distribution. At the end of the day, a view is a view … whether it’s via a web page, YouTube, Facebook, or Snapchat.
There are plenty of changes in consumer behavior and technology coming in the year ahead, but high-quality influencers will remain your strongest bet for starting conversations and building relationships. Now’s the time to partner with an experienced influencer agency to strategize the reach, engagement, and growth you want to see in 2016.