Over the past decade, traditional influencer marketing has seen continuous growth, and at an exponential rate. From sports personalities and A-list celebrities to social media influencers of recent years, influencer marketing has proven to be an invaluable tool for businesses to organically boost their reach and maximize engagement.
However, in recent years, this rapid growth has begun to slow down. Influencers are still as effective as ever, but given its rapid growth and recent changes in consumer attitudes to social media, brands are beginning to rethink who the most effective influencers are.
Bad practice and poorly executed instances of influencer marketing have forced the Advertising Standards Agency to create a set of guidelines for posting sponsored content online following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into social media influencers. This means that even reputable influencers are suffering at the expense of all too many mistakes from others.
With a recent increase in awareness of data capture and ad-tracking, people are becoming more in-tune with advertising tactics and taking steps to ensure they are not bothered. 26% of desktop users and 15% of mobile users use adblocking technology, which is a massive hit on the investment companies put into display ads.
With all this taken into consideration, what does the future hold for influencer marketing? And with recent changes in consumer attitudes to social media, what will replace social influencers in the age of false advertising? Well, fear not, influencers come in many shapes and forms, and often the ones with smaller followings can be the most reputable and engagement-driving of the bunch.
Here’s a list of influencer alternatives that are set to play key roles in the future of influencer marketing.
Think of a monogamous influencer as one who represents one brand per industry. After all, how many times can a beauty influencer change the brands in their daily make-up routine before their followers begin to question their authenticity? Imagine, in the automotive industry, how an influencer’s followers will perceive their content they promote Tesla one month, and Toyota the next.
In order to achieve this, and for it to be a success, influencers will have to limit the number of brands that they work with, and seek long-term contracts and relationships with each brand. This offers security for both the influencer and the brands they represent, as both parties can ensure that their authenticity stays intact.
A great example of brilliantly executed monogamous influence is Jaguar’s use of social influencer Jim Chapman’s personal brand. Jim Chapman is a blogger and GQ writer with a significant reputation within the fashion and lifestyle industry. Jaguar has worked with Chapman on a number of social media campaigns, and year after year he produces content for their latest cars, regularly attends events, and continues to advocate for the brand.
A micro-influencer is one with significant influence on social media, but with a much smaller following than the macro-influencers and celebrities that we’ve become accustomed to seeing/hearing about.
With micro-influencers, their content tends to surround a niche interest of theirs and their followers. As result, their followers tend to be more engaged and aware of the industries and products that they endorse. Studies say that 92% of consumers are more likely to trust in recommendations from other people than branded content, even if those people are strangers. Micro-Influencers are not only relatable people, but they’re also perceived as thought-leaders in a chosen field, which makes their recommendation one that matters.
Despite the obvious benefits of the aforementioned influencer marketing styles, they all have one detrimental flaw – authenticity. Whether it’s micro-influencers or one that is loyal to your brand, the fact remains that consumers more switched on to influencer marketing tactics, and trust and authenticity are becoming ever-more important.
Have you considered that the most reputable opinions and recommendations in your company’s industry might just be those of your employees? After all, employees aren’t forced or paid more to promote their brand. So what could be more organic than them choosing to do so on their own behalf?
In most instances, the people who are most knowledgable about your industry, and most influential in said field, are a company’s employees. If your company promotes good company culture, and your employees are prospering within it, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t want to let people know about it!
Often companies find that their employees are already advocating for their employers on social media, but by giving the platform, means, and incentive to do this at scale will significantly increase the frequency and quality of this.
LinkedIn tells us that in 2019, just 3% of employees share company content onto their LinkedIn pages, but these posts alone drive a 30% increase in engagement, which goes to show that even without tappiung into this resource and actively encouraging employee advocacy, employees are generating significantlty more engagement than branded content.
Influencers aren’t going anywhere, but it’s time for brands to consider more authentic ways of getting their content the reach it deserves. The future success of influencer marketing lies with more authentic and reputable advocates. What better place to start than with your employees?
What are your thoughts on the future of influencer marketing? Let us know your opinion by living your comments below! If you’d like to hear more about employee influencer marketing, or to start your own employee influencer program, click here.