Influencer marketing has experienced explosive growth as correlating technologies like social media, mobile and content creation platforms mature. In fact, influencer marketing has emerged as one of the fastest-growing social marketing practices as brand marketers look for meaningful ways to connect with customers outside of the traditional (and ineffective) banner ad. Digital marketers and those who provide public relations and advertising solutions to brands should be aware of six key influencer marketing trends coming in 2013.
1. Stand Alone Solutions Will Give Way to Marketplaces
Most industries that experience rapid innovation tend to remain fragmented for several years before integrated platforms emerge. This happened with operating systems, social platforms and data solutions and is happening in influencer marketing. Many solutions are emerging that address select aspects of influencer marketing, like identifying influencers or measuring results, but few offer integrated solutions. Marketers and influencers will tire of the stand-alone ways influencers and their content are identified, rated, mobilized, distributed and measured. As a result, the industry will begin to demand marketplaces where brands and content creators can connect, negotiate, collaborate and compensate, all within a single platform.
2. Earned Media will Rival Paid and Owned
Paid search and banner advertising tools have matured and are driving a shift in spending from traditional media (print and TV) to digital starting in the early 90s. Owned media became popular as publishing tools and the globalization of social media made it easier for marketers to create and publish content on branded assets. Earned media is gaining traction with the rise of influencers and social distribution. Marketers realize that peer-generated content engages consumers better than branded content, and increased earned media focus will naturally follow.
3. Influence will be Modeled, not Just Measured
Once the industry accepts standards for measuring influence, look for models to emerge that let brands predict how much reach, engagement and impact an influencer marketing program will have based on sophisticated algorithms that take into consideration more than just unique visitors and Twitter followers. Leading marketers will find ways to quantify engagement, relevance, audience affinity and consumer influence, and model these impact factors as strategic elements of social campaigns.
4. Data will Drive Content Creation
As better data becomes available to marketers, data-driven approaches will emerge to determine what type of content gets created and where it gets disseminated. Both marketers and publishers continue to get more sophisticated about predicting which content will be most viral, and then surfacing that content for consumers. Content creators and publishers will work together to provide the analytics needed to determine its success based on pre-determined KPI’s. This also means that marketers will need analytical skills that enable them to make decisions based on sophisticated metrics.
5. B-2-B Companies will Embrace Social
It’s not just B-2-C companies that benefit from social media marketing. In 2013, B-2-B marketers will build stronger fan bases and improve their ability to show ROI from social campaigns. B-2-B marketers will continue to embrace social tools, like LinkedIn, Twitter and corporate blogs, to drive traffic to websites, build product awareness and connect with customers online. Marketers will work with influencers to generate content that will be seen by professionals looking for thought leadership and content that builds brand credibility.
6. Niche Content will Give Way to Crossover Content
Early banner ads and SEO systems were able to predictably generate millions of impressions and thousands of click-throughs. However, consumers are now “ad- blind” and websites are saturated with ads, driving engagement rates to ineffectively low levels. Influencer marketing enables brands to be an integrated part of targeted content, instead of a distraction in the sidebar. Today’s leading branded social networks, like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, are blending the use of sophisticated targeting algorithms with content integration strategies to reach target consumers like never before. In 2013, we’ll see this trend continue as brands leverage cross-over content options to reach even more targeted consumers.
In the coming year, marketers, regardless of industry, will seek new ways to gain influencers in the social marketplace. Influencers provide a link between brands and consumers and in turn are a valuable piece of the marketing mix. The next 12 months are sure to give rise to new ways for marketers to identify, activate, distribute and measure influencer marketing.
Holly Hamann is chief marketing officer and co-founder of BlogFrog. You can follow her 17 boards on Pinterest.