It’s been a wild year for influencers as marketers are finally realizing how big of an impact a single Instagram photo, Vine video or Tweet can have.
A few trends from the last year:
Letting Go This year, brands really started to loosen control of the message and let influencers speak to their audience in their own language. Everyone—particularly marketers—talks about Millennials, but Millennials only believe messages that are authentic. Millennials don’t want to read or see pre-packaged, contrived content, so the most successful brands let go of some control.
Instagram is Where it’s at 2015 was the year brands got on board with Instagram. A visual platform with no algorithm, Instagram is a fantastic way for brands to get their message in front of several generations, including Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z.
Driving Consumers to Specific Stores Another trend for the past year was brands asking influencers to push consumers to a certain retailer, specifically with in-store photos. We get it: Your store display is beautiful. But these in-store photos do not work. Brands must trust their influencers to take the photos that will most speak to their audience—be it from their home, their car, the store, wherever. Consumers strictly want authentic content. And in-store photos of displays don’t feel authentic.
Next year, influencer marketing will emerge as the new version of PR. Why? Because it is the most targeted way to reach people exactly where they are. Everyone talks about wanting to reach Millennials, but you can’t just throw up a Facebook ad and call it a day.
Influencer marketing drills down to the exact audience brands want to reach. Hispanic, Millennial moms who are interested in beauty products? Caucasian female students ages 17 to 20 that shop at a specific retailer? Dad bloggers ages 28 to 35 who live in the Midwest? That’s how targeted an influencer marketing campaign can be.
What’s to come for influencer marketing in 2016?
Video, Video, Video Video was huge last year and it will get even bigger in 2016. Brands and marketing firms need to incorporate video in all social media campaigns, across all platforms—Vine, YouTube, Periscope, embedded video on their site. It’s how consumers are learning to cook new recipes, contour their makeup and discover the latest music video.
The Shorter the Better When it comes to video, the shorter the better. Long-form content and videos, although good for SEO, don’t work. Shorter, tight videos with low production costs but clear calls-to-action will be huge. It won’t be beautiful, commercial-quality, but if it speaks to an influencer’s audience, it wins.
Don’t Let Your Message Get Lost When it comes to video, think of the “inverted pyramid” method of newswriting. The vast majority of viewers won’t make it to the end, so the call-to-action and/or logo needs to be near the beginning.
Snapchat Success Snapchat is an enigma when it comes to measurement and analytics. It’s hard to measure, so the data just isn’t there. If a brand has the budget and is trying to reach Generation Z, we generally suggest a few different channels, including Snapchat and Vine. These channels work for Gen Z, which tends to be more private than Millennials, who share everywhere they can.
Social Good Influencer marketing campaigns with a purpose were big in 2015 and will continue into next year. Consumers love sharing status updates, Tweets and photos that they feel are helping others. The ongoing Johnson & Johnson #DonateAPhoto campaign is a great example of this, as well as #WeSparkChange campaign from Walmart. Both engage users via app and/or hashtag, bringing awareness to the brand/retailer, as well as the cause the company supports.
Without a doubt, influencer marketing is here to stay. Reaching target audiences and the perfect consumers for your products has never been easier, whether it’s via blog post, Snapchat, status update or Periscope.
Stephanie McCratic is founder and CEO of Acorn: An Influence Company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.