Influencer marketing has seen a massive shift in the past five years. From an outlier strategy that marketers were skeptical to adopt, it has now become more mainstream now. 

 

In fact, it has become the go-to strategy for many marketers. 

 

What’s more, 71% of marketers even say that influencer marketing can bring them a better quality of customers and traffic compared to other strategies.

 

 

Indeed, influencer marketing has come a long way since it’s early days. But the beauty of it is that it’s a very dynamic field. 

 

It’s still evolving.

 

To give you an idea of how quickly the influencer marketing landscape is changing, let’s take a look at some of the latest industry trends.

 

Influencer Marketing Trends: What You Need to Look Out For

If you are planning to leverage influencer marketing to grow your business, make sure you know these fast-changing trends:

 

1. Brands Are Looking Beyond Follower Count

When brands are shortlisting influencers for collaborations, they aren’t going only by the number of followers. With a number of influencers buying fake followers, brands have begun to become more selective. 

 

Along with the influencer count, engagement rate is an important factor for influencer evaluation. If an influencer has a high follower count but a low engagement rate, the gap can indicate foul play.

 

With engagement rate taking center stage for influencer marketing, brands are looking to work with micro- and nano-influencers as well. Typically, these influencers may not have millions of followers, but they do have engaged audiences.

 

Another important factor to consider for influencer evaluation is whether they are right fit for the brand. Brands are looking to work with influencers whose values match with theirs. 

 

Upscale lingerie company, Natori, collaborated with fitness influencer, Sarah Dussault, for their marketing campaign. She has over 38K followers, which makes her a micro-influencer. A high-end brand like Natori could collaborate with a high-tier celebrity as well.

 

However, by working with Sarah, they could reach out to those who were passionate about fitness.

 

 

It’s also worth noting that brands are using advanced tools for influencer discovery and campaign management. Because of this, the industry has become more organized.

 

2. Brands Are Building Long-Term Relationships With Influencers

A one-off influencer campaign can come across as overly promotional or inauthentic. On the other hand, if the same influencer promotes a brand multiple times, they show that they trust their products.

 

Long-term associations with influencers are essential to building effective marketing campaigns. Such campaigns can give influencers enough time to introduce a brand and promote it organically. A series of engaging posts can go a long way in boosting the overall brand recall value as well.

 

As brands begin to look at building long-term associations, some of them are also creating their own in-house programs. For instance, Macy’s has a massive influencer program that aims to turn its employees into brand advocates.

 

Called Macy’s Style Crew, the program also provides incentives to the employees for promoting their brand on social media. They get commissions, free access to the store’s products, and more.

 

 

3. CGI Influencers Have Arrived

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) influencers are changing the rules of the influencer marketing game. They aren’t actually influencers but are designed and handled by programmers, designers, and social media managers.

 

Just like other influencers, CGI influencers post graphically-designed photos of themselves traveling, and hanging out with friends.

 

With CGI collaborations, brands have more control in the content creation process. From the product positioning to captions, they can tailor it all to suit their requirements. There is no scope for any kind of unpredictability. 

 

CGI influencers can be useful for ecommerce brands as well as retailers around the world.

 

High-end brands like Prada, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Balmain, and Fenty Beauty have already leveraged CGI influencers. 

 

 

So, what’s the way forward?

 

Email Groom, who has created the CGI influencer Lil Wavi, believes that new opportunities will open up.

 

In an interview, she said, “ Soon we’ll see digital models walk down the runway through holograms as we dig way deeper into the future. There’s so much potential and I’m excited to see where it goes.”

 

4. The Influencer Marketing Industry Is Becoming More Regulated

Influencer marketing has offered many new ways in which brands can promote their products online. On the flip side, it has opened up new issues as well. 

 

For instance, influencers who fail to disclose their association with a brand may end up misleading social media users. After government agencies and watchdog organizations pushed for transparency, the FTC is becoming stricter.

 

In the past, they have issued notices to influencers for failure to disclose their brand endorsements. 

 

In another instance, social media influencer, Kim Kardashian, promoted a morning sickness drug without disclosing its side-effects in her post. The Food and Drug Administration even sent a warning letter to the brand for the aforementioned post. 

 

Eventually, she had to remove the post. Such instances have resulted in more scrutiny from government agencies.

 

The FTC has also released disclosure guidelines that give recommendations for disclosure of influencer collaborations.

 

Here are some points covered in the guidelines:

 

  • Influencers should disclose their relationship with a brand, including personal, employment-based, family, or financial association.
  • Influencers should refrain from using vague or confusing terms for disclosure. Instead, they can use hashtags like #ad or #sponsored.
  • For Snapchat and Instagram Stories, it’s recommended that influencers superimpose their disclosure over the video or image. Plus, they should ensure that users get enough time to see it and read it.

 

In the future, you can expect stricter guidelines. If you don’t want to be caught napping on the wrong side of the law, make sure you follow all given guidelines.

 

What Will the Future of Influencer Marketing Look Like?

Influencer marketing has evolved at a rapid pace since its inception. Now, marketers are confident about the strategy and willing to experiment as well. 

 

From the rise of micro-influencers and in-house influencer programs to the emergence of CGI influencers, there are a lot of new things happening.

 

What’s more, brands are paying more attention to engagement rather than follower count. It’s a clear sign that the industry is maturing. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to stay updated with the latest trends.

 

Do you have any questions about any of these influencer marketing trends? Please feel free to ask them in the comments section.