Influencers 2020: A Peek Into the Future
Looking back on 2019, even for the constantly evolving social media and influencer environment, it’s been a wild year of change for influencers, and the brands working with them.
Instagram launched new features every month, including the new Creator camera interface, hashtag insights and shoppable stories. The most impactful change to Instagram for influencers though – moving the focus of the platform away from likes, by removing them from public display, and onto stronger, more meaningful goals and objectives. The content and social media platform landscape has also changed. Video has slowly begun diversity as influencers trickle away from YouTube in frustration, and the rise of video platforms TikTok and Twitch into the mainstream conversation brings new capabilities, audiences, content formats and styles, and influencers to partner with.
The popularity of influencers with both brands and audiences continues to rise year on year brings more opportunity, and challenges to resolve. Even though measuring the full value and ROI of influencer partnerships can be difficult to identify, we know it can effective for achieving various goals and objectives. As brands allocate more budget and effort to influencer partnerships, the industry is facing greater scrutiny, higher expectations and more accountability. The demand is for influencer marketing to mature.
Annual Influencer Marketing Budget
A general raising of the bar to formalise and create more openness in campaign planning, delivery and measurement has been seen across the industry, but influencers have been on a steep learning curve as they adjust to the changing demands, and there is still much to be done to achieve the goal.
As we look at what is ahead for influencers in 2020, transparency, accountability, and deeper relationships are the key themes to pay close attention to.
2020 Trends and Predictions
- Stronger Focus on Accountability, Strategy, Paid Performance and Measurement ( ROI)
2020 will be a year of further developing transparency, openness, a stronger performance focus and measurement for influencers.
PwC report that “personality-driven marketing” will reach $240 million this year in Australia and, while paid content promotion is the rule for brands, it’s commonly the exception for influencers. Campaign goals and measurement have typically been set accordingly, against softer objectives like reach and engagement.
The continued growth in popularity, and the effectiveness of influencer partnerships, budget allocation, resources, effort and goals to achieve are all increasing year on year for influencers. With greater responsibility comes closer scrutiny, stronger expectations and a need to be more strategic in campaign planning and delivery. A maturing of the industry, as it steps up to the next level, is what 2020 will bring for Influencer Marketing.
Influencer Marketing Measurement
Instagram Branded Content Ads
Launched in June 2019, Instagram’s Branded Content Ads are helping influencers move to this next level, addressing 4 of influencer marketing’s most common challenges–transparency in paid content partnerships for audiences, visibility of audience targeting, campaign management and access to performance insights. Branded Content Ads clearly identify paid partnerships on the post and give brands and influencers shared management of partnership campaigns, within the platform.
- Influencer Marketing Industry Code of Practice
Influencer Marketing will mature and formalise best practice standards, behaviours, expectations and delivery for influencers, and the brands who work with them.
Transparency and measurement are just two of the challenges faced by influencers that need to be addressed, particularly as the industry continues to grow. Fake accounts and engagement bots, confusion over content usage rights, inconsistent use and requirements of contract agreements, lack of standards in rates and fees, influencer fraud – from fake personal stories to plagiarised or faked content, criticism of misinformation spread by non experts, doubts about credibility of individuals and the industry, and a broad and overly inclusive definition of the term “influencer” making it difficult to know exactly what influence means and how to measure it, are just some of the concerns that every influencer and brand has faced while working together.
The recent creation of the Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AIMCo) and the development of an Influencer Marketing Industry Code of Practice, currently being written in consultation with leaders from across the industry, aims to address and resolve these challenges. The code of practice aims to set standards, expectations, rules and best practice across all aspects of influencer partnerships. Once finalised and published, the code will act as guide to a stronger, more structured industry, and an improved experience for all.
- New Video Platforms are emerging
New platforms will continue to gain popularity and usage, uncover new talent and challenge mainstream platforms as they grow.
In 2019 video platforms TikTok and Twitch entered the mainstream social media conversation,with two very different approaches to video content. TikTok has approximately 1.5M users in Australia and attracts mostly younger audiences ( under 25 years) with short, irreverent, snackable entertaining videos. Twitch is a live streaming platform that connects and builds highly interactive, engaged online communities, sharing gaming, esports and viewing experiences. Although women and all ages are active on Twitch, the biggest audience is men between 18-35.
Both TikTok and Twitch stand out and are experiencing growth as they are unique in their features, offer experiences no other mainstream platform does and appeal to different audiences and interests.
It’s early days for influencer partnerships on both platforms, however brands including Superdry and Samsung have been exploring TikTok, while Netflix, R U OK? and Starlight Children’s Foundation are among those exploring Twitch. Both platforms have opened local offices in Australia this year and are as hungry for growth as users are for the platforms. 2020 will see them both rise even further.
- More diversification of video platforms
As influencers break away from You Tube, their audiences will follow.
TikTok and Twitch aren’t the only changes happening in video. YouTube is, and has for many years been, the dominant video platform. It has however been experiencing a number of challenges recently including changing monetizaton strategies and viewer suppression making it harder for creators to earn, slow adoption of new trends like vertical video and interactivity, poor management of creator controversies, delayed action on responding and applying penalties and inconsistent application of content moderation guidelines. These ongoing issues have resulted in driving users, advertisers and even some of the biggest creators off the platform.
The requirements of the new Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act ( COPPA), the lack of clarity about the changes YouTube has made to content, advertising and audience guidelines to comply and the impact of these changes on creators, coupled with the high risks of breaching the act have further eroded trust and confidence in the platform. More creators are dissatisfied and shopping around.
YouTube is still going strong however, as creators move away and onto podcasting and other platforms including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, Patreon, Perion and DLive, just to name a few, the video landscape is expanding. As audiences follow, brands will need to understand where they are going, who they are following and expand their thinking when searching for influencers.
- Long term Partnerships will rise and become the norm
Brands will create more campaigns and content with a smaller core influencers over longer term partnerships.
It’s common for brands to partner with influencers on a short term, campaign by campaign basis. This approach allows brands to constantly reach different audiences through different influencers, expanding awareness while limiting fatigue. It also builds relationships that can be revisited for future campaigns, giving the safety of familiarity and saving time and effort in looking for campaign partners.
However, as celebrity ambassadors and partnerships are losing relevance and effectiveness, influencers are taking their place as long term partners. This approach is more effective than bouncing from one influencer to another as building a deeper relationship demonstrates authenticity, builds familiarity through repetition and more easily establishes credibility with audiences. It also saves brands the time, expense, and effort of searching for a new selection of influencers for each campaign.
The value of a partnering with a variety of influencers to engage at different times, combined with authenticity and familiarity built with longer term partnerships is a powerful. More and more brands are creating more campaigns and content with a smaller core influencers over longer periods, and the benefits will see this trend grow.
influencer marketing, marketing, social media