From the jaw-dropping Fyre Festival exposé to the CMA’s smackdown on transparency in advertising, 2019 is already shaping up to be a hell of a ride when it comes to influencer marketing.
The rules are changing – in fact; some are only just being introduced – so it’s more important than ever for brands to stay ahead of the curve.
Here, we forecast the top five influencer marketing trends for 2019 – so whether you’re an influencer, brand or agent looking to work with talent; be sure to bookmark or print our trend bible.
Our key words for 2019? Authenticity, honesty and innovation. In a saturated market, partnerships and campaigns need to be interesting and meaningful to deliver cut-through, which means finding the right person and creating something authentic and purposeful. Authenticity may sound more like a buzzword than anything else these days, but in a virtual world of fake followers, false engagement and forced collaborations, the demand for it – from both brands and followers – is stronger than ever.
Honesty has a huge part to play in 2019’s trends; and not just because the rules are getting stricter (more on this below). The industry has long been far too vague when it comes to guidelines around payment, and more and more brands are being named and shamed for failing to respect the terms.
#1 Don’t fake it and you’ll make it
It’s tricky to see through the cloud of fakery that surrounds our socials these days. In the last quarter of 2018 alone, Facebook removed 754 million fake accounts. With platforms cracking down on fake followers and the ASA tightening rules on transparency in advertising with more regulation, a regrowth in consumer trust is bound to be on the agenda.
However, as several influencers have already pointed out, platforms have to make room for these changes to avoid obstructing the content itself. Just as a magazine editorial would have the paid messaging tucked away in the corner; we’re interested to see how channels start to shift to make room for the regulations – otherwise they risk influential users eventually opting not to post at all.
Trust is hard to earn, but worth the work and playing by the rules (in this case) is the best way for influencers and brands alike.
#2 The power of voice
Connects did a deep dive into the world of AI and voice powered tech in 2018, but 2019 is set to be the year brand really take notice – with voice shopping set to boom to $5 billion in the UK by 2022.*
Both Amazon Echo and Google Home are fast adding new capabilities to their respective devices. From Interpreter mode on Google Home giving you providing you with your very own virtual translator; to the Alexa Skill Blueprints which enable users to create a more personalised experience, such as Airbnb users being able to ask locations of items or send requests for clean towels.
And they’re not alone in the race for voice-powered innovation – ASOS now lets customers use verbal commands to shop on site via Google Assistant. The voice powered guide; named Enki, lets users search for products using photos from their camera roll as well as searching through the 5,000 new items added each week.
Forget sore thumbs – we’re predicting sore throats. Watch this space.
*According to a study by OC&C Strategy Consultants.
#3 Payment Transparency
It hasn’t always been a level playing field when it comes to the topic of payment for influencers. What are the benefits of affiliate link programmes vs. one-off projects? How much should they be paid? What is it that brands should be factoring in – their following, or their content quality?
The oversaturation of the influencer market can often mean that whilst content creators are still a huge driver for awareness, for some brands they’re no longer smashing sales targets. This was the case for online beauty giant MakeUp Geek, who found their return on investment dropped dramatically as viewers began to detect there was money to be made – and they’d be right – some influencers were pocketing up to 15% of the sales driven by their posts.
With the rules around advertising tightening up; we’re predicting a complete review of the influencer payment process – making the rules clearer for everyone involved.
#4 Sustainability Wins
It has been predicted that we have 12 years left to change our habits when it comes to sustainability – or else the damage to our planet will be irreversible.
Influencer marketing has a certain level of responsibility here – more and more we’re seeing influencers use their platform for change and joining the fight for sustainable consumerism.
It’s not about going totally zero waste overnight – but we think the age of the haul video certainly is on its way out.
Three brands making a sustainable statement:
- Lego unveiled their eco bricks just this year made from sugarcane rather than their standard plastic, with plans to roll them out in retailers by 2030.
- Thinx are the period-proof and zero waste underwear brand that saw huge success in 2018 with their reusable pants – they replace the average 10,000 plastic-based period products a woman currently uses in her lifetime.
- This month Lush opened their doors to three zero packaging stores in Berlin, Milan and Manchester – their innovative Lush Lens means shoppers only have to scan the product itself, eliminating the need for barcodes.
#5 Broadcasting booms
No longer is Instagram the only hot-bed for an ever-growing pool of talented content creators. With the rise of voice comes the rise in many influencers exploring new channels and media.
You’ll notice more and more influencers broadening their horizons and essentially becoming broadcast journalists, whether through IGTV series or their own podcasts. Nearly 6 million brits tune into podcasts each week, so when it comes to ad opportunities, it’s really a no-brainer – it only means more opportunities for brand exposure (hey, we’ve even recently set up our own podcast!).
Get involved with new launches – we predict there’s a whole new host of podcast series and IGTV channels we’ll be obsessing over this year.
To wrap it up, we predict 2019 to be the year of the influencer empire; with more business opportunity, channel expansion and genuineness than ever before. With trust on the rise, it may seem a tricky time for brands to partner with influencers on content – but this isn’t the case. Making sure it’s the right collaboration, being transparent with audiences and disrupting the ebb and flow of generic #ads is the way to go.
Lastly, there’s no point jumping on the bandwagon if it doesn’t make sense for your business or product. Want to talk sustainability? Make a sustainable change. Think an influencer would be great for your brand? Make sure it aligns with their own personal brand. Authenticity is king.
Got questions on your 2019 Influencer Strategy? We can help – get in touch with us: