Influencer marketing has become an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. Bloggers have catapulted over the last decade from obscurity to near-celebrity status, using agents in many cases to broker sponsorship deals that can reach tens of thousands of dollars for a single Instagram post. As a result of these hefty price tags, brands have begun to look more closely at the potential value of each collaboration to build loyalty, awareness and, ultimately, sales.
Although Instagram followers has become the ‘influence standard’ for many brand marketers, there is increasing importance placed on conversions and hence more emphasis is being placed on direct blog traffic, time spent on the site, and other factors that indicate strong engagement. Some emerging digital platforms that connect bloggers with brands for collaborations have gone as far as providing access to bloggers’ Google Analytics, which has become a game-changer for brands when assessing potential conversion and relevance of an influencer for a particular campaign. (It’s important to note that not all platforms offer this level of transparency. Before signing up with any service that coordinates blogger collaborations, brands should always check if this data is available.)
Given the growing trend toward transparency between brands and bloggers, here are four influencer marketing trends we expect to see over the next year:
Brands and Bloggers Will Communicate More Directly
With digital platforms making it much easier for brands and bloggers to communicate and negotiate more efficiently, the traditional role of a blogger talent agency will change. Brands will realize many benefits of this direct engagement including more creative collaborations that generate greater levels of genuine brand messaging to a more deliberate and targeted audience. We will see greater levels of enthusiasm for a wider variety of brands, as bloggers have increased visibility of all opportunities available and will be able to make more informed choices about those that are suitable to their audience and style. They will have greater control over their messaging, partnerships and in turn their success.
Brands Will Utilize a Greater Variety of Bloggers
With blogger research and outreach so time-consuming, collaboration opportunities have often gone to the same handful of top influencers. With the rise of digital platforms, one of the rising influencer marketing trends that expect to see is a wider variety of bloggers involved in influencer marketing campaigns and an increase in collaborations with niche bloggers whose small, yet loyal audiences have high conversion rates.
Brands Will Use Influencers to Grow Their Own Social Media
In a trend that walks the line between influencer marketing and content strategy, we expect that brands will engage influencers to help build their own social media networks and audiences through Instagram takeovers, guest posts and partner events. We also expect that brands will start to publish more of their own content on their blogs, Tumblr accounts and other mediums, engaging influencers to catch their attention and spark relationships.
Bloggers Will Embrace Traditional Blogging
Many top ‘bloggers’ have diverted their attention away from traditional ‘blogging’, opting to express themselves through Instagram and Snapchat – but the emerging value of strong Google Analytics and clear conversion data may in fact inspire bloggers to strengthen their own domain names. As brands start to evaluate key metrics including audience demographics, time spent on the blog and overall digital influence, we expect bloggers to respond by balancing their efforts more evenly across their own web assets and social networks. Having a strong owned presence rather than relying on the platform du jour will help bloggers expand their brand presence and retain their longevity regardless of which social media platform is most popular today…or tomorrow.