Goodbye, Snapchat, it’s been nice knowing you! Ever since August of 2016 and the decisive launch of the Instagram Stories, the second most popular photo-oriented platform in the world has been officially kicked out of the race. It’s solely up to Instagram now to delight, engage, and convert its tremendous crowd of 8 million active daily users. Speaking of tremendous, one trend in the advertising industry is already worth around half a billion dollars. The exponential growth in funding has made influencer marketing a force not to be reckoned with, as 73% of companies are now building long-term relationships with macro and micro influencers.
Will Instagram stars finally render traditional marketing tactics obsolete in 2018? If they do, we’ll have the following 5 trends to thank.
Influencer marketing is nothing new; for years before Instagram, celebrities used their immense social power to channel the word-of-mouth and give this initially organic form of advertising an additional boost. The problem was, their followers had no means of knowing whether their recommendations were friendly and sincere. For all they knew, celebrity suggestions were just another type of paid ads.
Little has changed until last year, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took matters into its own hands. The new set of guidelines for disclosing sponsored advertisements was outlined in over 90 letters sent by the commission to the leading brands and their loyal core of celebrities and influencers.
For Instagram influencers and other social media brand ambassadors, this means an apparent change of course. This type of marketing can no longer afford not to be transparent, as both brands and influencers are now legally obliged to be compliant with FTC guidelines. Enter the sponsored hashtag.
2. Less Is More
Even before FTC announced this new way of regulating influencer marketing trends, the savviest brands were looking for a way to make their influencer campaigns a little more transparent. True influencer marketing, they realized, depends on personality, relevance, and reputation within a niche.
In comparison to these three, stardom and fame are a bit easier to achieve. Even today, they belong to stars and starlets with no palpable contribution to society and no real legacy to call their own. Shockingly or not, these celebrities are the ones who enjoy the largest following across social media. Slowly approaching them are so-called micro influencers.
First discovered by small brands, these social media stars count between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. What makes them different from macro influencers is that they have no corporate backbone to support them, which guarantees that virtually all of their followers are 100% authentic.
Because there’s nothing shady about them, micro influencers ensure both diversification and reputation. Rising brands can actually afford them, while corporate giants can spread their budget across multiple influencers to cover multiple target audiences. Smaller accounts simply get more love.
Besides, social media experts are now announcing another Instapurge. In 2018, the platform will swipe its business accounts for everything inorganic, and tens of thousands of bots will be erased. Our guess is, a vast number of giants will be affected, while micro influencers will have nothing to worry about.
3. Influencer Content
With Instagram being photo-oriented, brands that are targeting their audiences on this platform are urged to spend a whole lot of money on high-end photoshoots. In comparison to their price, going for a mixture of user-generated content and Instagram influencer marketing must be way less expensive.
A lot can be said about how effective the fusion of these two marketing techniques is. Together, they allow brands to build trust by offering much more than professional ads — when created by influencers themselves, this type of content contributes to authenticity and reliability to the highest extent.
4. Influencer Trends
On Instagram and beyond, the influencer marketing trends are driven by the expansion of live video and streaming. Our favourite social network incorporates them through Stories, a feature that sealed the faith of at least two leading platforms. But, Instagram Stories are not exclusively about storytelling.
One of the biggest influencer trends for 2018 is the Insta Stories’ new voting feature.
As a part of an Instagram influencer marketing strategy, this feature contributes to both the engagement and feedback generation. Brands and influencers alike can use it to ask their audiences questions about their products and services, and receive invaluable feedback from potential clients.
In some cases, the results can be forwarded to brands as a courtesy, while in others, they can be nicely monetized. Audience feedback is crucial for improvement, but it wasn’t until the voting feature that the actual success of an Instagram influencer marketing campaign could be measured in numbers.
Truth be told, the lack of a gauging system in influencer marketing has long been the sole challenge in an otherwise perfect advertising tactic. There’s still no monetary value in getting mentioned by an influencer, but a host of new possibilities, including Insta voting, now enables performance tracking.
Branded hashtags, for instance, are getting repurposed as a means to measure how much attention specific influencers are driving to the brand. Another example comes from promo codes that influencers share with their audience, and brands attribute to ROI every time a customer uses one.
Most state-of-the-art marketing tools now have features for social media and influencer tracking, which allows brands to stay on top of every post, like, and share. In 2018 and beyond, greater visibility and better KPI and ROI measurement systems will be among major influencer marketing trends.
With a stupefying number of social media ads being dispersed through various channels each day, it’s really no wonder that the followers have started to lose trust in their favorite brands’ authenticity. The haunting need to regain their trust is thus the main advertising current that shapes all influencer trends in 2018.
Originally published at www.creator.ai.