To get a good idea of where Influencer Marketing is going, we need to reflect on what it was and how it has changed.
What may surprise you is that Influencer Marketing has always been around, in some fashion, and the way it is defined has been pretty contentious, but for the purposes of this article it boils down to someone who is trusted to some degree that advocates for a product, service or cause to an audience.
A Blast From The Past
Do you remember Michael Jordan as the spokesperson for Rayovac batteries? I do – and let me tell you Rayovac batteries were the best batteries in my opinion. Now why is that….well, it is because the best basketball player that ever was, was in all their commercial and he wouldn’t use anything but superior quality products.
I have to admit that I was definitely young and impressionable at the time, but, in essence, this was an on-going influencer marketing campaign that worked on me. We knew them then and now as ambassadorships and sponsorships, but at their core they were influencing perception and our consumer behaviour.
Still skeptical? Ever own a pair of Air Jordans?
In the 90’s different websites and bloggers emerged that held (and some still hold) a lot of clout with their readership. If a prominent mom endorsed a certain product, you can bet it made an impact. Especially when there wasn’t as many options as there are today. This was a game changer – individuals that never appeared on the silver screen or the air waves could reach a larger audience who cared about what they had to say.
Indeed, in the early days smart marketers saw what was happening and became the early adopters of online marketing through display or endorsement through these websites. Eventually as advertising online became more common, easier ways to purchase ads on sites without the manual outreach emerged as ad exchanges. Of course today, it’s ads galore… you cannot escape them.
Smartphones. Need I say more? Now that everyone is carrying around a computer in their pocket that’s always connected to the internet and their social networks, the way we communicated has changed in incredibly in a very short amount of time. Social Media has changed the way we interact with content and people. People aren’t just talking about what they see but they are sharing, taking screenshots and sending DM’s. Now, instead of the celebrity or the popular website influencing consumers, it’s people on social media.
The amazing thing is that having a computer science degree or catching a lucky break through traditional means is no longer a prerequisite to being heard and having influence. All that is needed is a smartphone that’s connected (everyone has that), and the ability to produce and share content that people care about (the hard part).
Social media has expanded the pool of people who could follow and be followed online. A clever kid on twitter, a funny YouTuber, or a photogenic instagramer can speak to thousands, if not millions of followers. That’s incredible power and it’s now in the hands of your next door neighbour, a relative or a friend that just has ‘it’ online.
Influencer Marketing Will Dominate
Today, people live on their phones and on their apps. In a manner of self preservation we have programmed ourselves to ignore most banner ads. After all, we’ve been bombarded with content and the last thing we want is a banner ad competing for our attention constantly.
Curious if it is true? Tell me, when is the last time you purposefully clicked on a banner ad?
The constant bombardment has made it challenging for big brands to cut through the noise and make meaningful impressions online. Influencer Marketing, is becoming more and more the answer to advertisers that want to break through and stand out in front of their desired audience.
Just as big brands started to move their advertising dollars from television and radio to the internet (to the eyeballs), my prediction is that dollars will move away from display and be invested in social advertising where user attention lives. Influencers are and will increasingly become the carrier of brand communication. It might be a YouTuber with 5 million subscribers or an instagramer with 25 thousand followers.
I’ll end this with what I think we’ll start to notice:
- More people will become influencers for a living.
- Quality content will matter more than the amount of followers as organic reach on some platforms decreases.
- The quality of content will go up as competition for following increases.
- Platforms like Facebook and Instagram will continue to develop new and easy ways for advertisers to amplify content, drive conversions and report on results.
- Banner ads will cost less as dollars flow into social advertising.
Have thoughts? Comment below.