2018 is the year influencer marketing went mainstream. The effectiveness of influencer marketing can’t be denied, especially when studies show that 81% of consumers regularly purchase items after seeing them shared on social media and, according to a study by Collective Bias, 60% of in-store shoppers are influenced by social media and blog posts. Stats released by Google earlier this year stated that 4 in 10 millennials say their favourite creator understands them better than their friends! 

It was also the year we stopped looking at influencer marketing through rose-tinted glasses and started to hold it to account. An industry-wide crack-down on fake followers, misinformed endorsement and lack of authenticity saw learnings made and approaches shift. So, our key trends for 2019?

Engagement over reach will be the only appropriate approach, and payment will begin to reflect that. Gone are the days when a tweet from someone with 3 million followers will do. Instead marketers are looking for more meaningful content and deeper engagement, and they want to make sure they’re £’s are being spent on reaching the audience they want to speak to. These are influencers after all; what’s the point in even trying to influence people that aren’t our target audience? We predict a shift towards payment linked to engagement as opposed to the current model based on follower numbers / opportunity to see. This could take the form of payment based on average engagement or a more payment per engagement model. 

Platform proliferation. The last couple of years have been dominated by YouTube and Instagram influencers. A campaign we ran for Huawei across Western Europe earlier this year saw us recruit 50 Instagram influencers across 10 markets, each with a following in excess of 100k and with a specialism in photography. The ‘Spark A Renaissance’ campaign had photography at its heart, so Instagram was the obvious platform choice. However, with platforms such as TikTok and Twitch holding the attention of audiences for sustained periods of time, we’ll see a wider mix in the platforms being used and multi-platform campaigns.

Integration will be key. For years social media was the last item on the list when it came to campaign development. Fast forward 5 years and social media is at the heart of some of the best campaigns this year *cough*I Am A Londoner*cough*. Influencer marketing has, quite habitually, been treated the same over the past couple of years. That is shifting, which is why our approach at FCB Inferno ensures our influencer strategy is integrated in campaign development from the very beginning. Our Together #WePlayStrong campaign for UEFA Women’s relied on influencer involvement from the get-go, as we knew the teenage girls we were seeking to engage with and bring into the game weren’t going to listen to UEFA. To speak to them on their own terms and really shift perception around the game we needed to get those that our girls looked up to advocating football as a ‘cool’ and accepted thing to do. Little Mix, Olly Murrs, Cara Delavingne and Zara Larsson all got involved, and we collaborated Rita Ora this year to further extend the reach of the campaign. Influencers mustn’t be treated as an ‘add on’ else their role in any campaign risks coming across vacuous and inauthentic.

Meaningful collaboration. As influencer marketing becomes more sophisticated so does the approach and resulting campaigns. Moving into 2019 we’ll start to see a more pronounced move from single paid for endorsements to bigger and in some cases more long-term collaborations between brands and influencers. Audiences are wise to simple product placement and event attendance. To truly engage an influencer’s audience, we need to research and engage the right influencers and collaborate on content created by the influencer; work with influential content creators and utilise their skill in line with the wider campaign strategy to engage their followers with our message.

Transparency will be the buzzword. Consumers are concerned about transparency around collaborations, and influencers and brands need to work together to ensure the influencer marketing industry is working to make collaborations clear. #ad doesn’t kill engagement if the collaboration is meaningful, and the audience and influencer on point, and that transparency works to develop trust between the influencer, brand and audience.