Hardly anyone expected five years ago that handsome young people can earn millions by holding their sneakers in the camera or filming make-up. But because it always comes differently than you think, these young people developed against all too often influential brand ambassadors.
By now, they are among the most credible sources of product recommendations for family, friends and customer reviews. And so in recent years countless brands have invested in influencer marketing to share in the success of this long-riddled discipline and to benefit from the influence of social media stars. And although the impact of such investments is difficult to measure, one thing is undisputed: Influencers open doors to target groups, which remain closed to traditional advertising.
Influencer marketing will change, not disappear
Nevertheless, more and more voices are being heard that recognize a saturation of the market and predict a timely end to influencer marketing. But millennials in particular appreciate the closeness and orientation that their idols give them in an accelerated time and therefore will not turn away from them so quickly.
However, it remains questionable whether mega influencers such as Dagi Bee and Co., with more than five million followers on Instagram and five-digit fees per sponsored post, are still long on the iron throne of influencer marketing. For companies have paid in recent years not only the proud fees of the influencers, but also a lot of apprenticeship.
While at the beginning of the hype about digital opinion makers, the main focus was on reach, and both marketing executives and their agency partners had yet to gain experience with these new channels, companies are now much more self-confident with influencers and set goals for themselves and their contractors go far beyond “awareness”.
But it is not just the lessons learned that have changed and professionalize influencer marketing. Other trends will also give a new direction to the quality and impact of this discipline.
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From Instagram to all channels
Many marketers still think of influencer marketing only on Instagram and Youtube. But even now, apart from the channels of the mainstream influencer greats, there is a much broader range of marketing instruments and media. Niche platforms such as Twitch and TikTok continue to focus on gaming and music themes, although only a small number of followers can be reached via these platforms so far and probably also in the medium term compared to the “big ones”.
In addition to other digital channels, influencers will increasingly be used in live communication as well. Interpersonal encounters are becoming more and more important in times of digitization, and opinion makers are a great way to bring additional attention and reach to events with their presence and coverage. In addition, influencers can meet their followers at events for a change in real life sometimes.
Furthermore, podcasts are a trend that will be even more prevalent in the coming year. Companies can have a say here by producing their own podcasts and bringing well-known influencers on board or by storing their own information in opinion makers’ productions.
From advertising partner to entrepreneur
Many influencers now have so much capital that they no longer depend on paying affiliates to build their own business and launch community-relevant products. As the gigantic success of the cooperation of Youtube star Bibi with the drugstore chain dm proved, it is nevertheless worthwhile for companies to anticipate and jointly develop products.
After all, it has a very different quality, whether opinion makers only advertise or were involved in the creation process. Brands can only benefit from the insights they bring with them through their close relationship with their fans. In turn, influencers can build on the expertise and distribution network of companies.
The prerequisite for this, however, is that the products are really relevant, meet the quality requirements of the customers and fit the brand image of the company. Otherwise, such a co-operation can become a boomerang, as in the case of the make-up line “Beetique” developed by influencer Dagi Bee for dm.
From mega to nano-influencer
Values such as credibility, closeness and trust are the capital of the influencers. However, if too many of their posts are co-branded and the Instagram wall is more like an advertising pillar, those values are increasingly diminishing.
Therefore, the trend is strongly in the direction of the nano-influencers, ie people often less than 1,000 fans, but with a high degree of credibility due to their specialization and by some personal contact with their fans.
Thus, nano-influencers are now much closer to the recommendation of a friend or family as the big influencers are. Especially for niche topics such as mountain biking, model making or camping, this form of influencer marketing offers much more potential than working with big names in the industry.
In general, it would be desirable if more companies in the future to rethink the very meaning of influencers and thereby recognize the ambassador potential of satisfied customers. For who could be a more convincing testimonial than the enthusiastic customer or perhaps even long-standing employees?
I beg your pardon?
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New times require new thinking
Many brands have been doubting the discipline’s long-term communication mix since the first advent of Influencer Marketing. It is that doubt – and the fact that influencer marketing is seen as a pure advertising channel – that still keeps companies out of trying new ways on this channel and realizing their true potential for their own brand.
Whether influencers actually manage to mature with their community and thus bring unthinkable topics such as education or pension provision to men and women today remains to be seen. It will also be exciting to see how brands and influencer agencies can open up to these new ways.
If companies manage to get everyone involved – influencers, influencer agencies, community and relevant brands – on board early in the game (that is, best in the conception phase of a campaign), then it can and will work.
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About the author:
Thomas Kochwasser is Director Content Marketing & Social Media at Leo Burnett Germany, where he manages the Content Marketing and Social Media Unit together with Johannes Simon, Account Director of Social Media.
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