3 Reasons The Influencer Marketing Industry Has Exploded Over The Past 5 Years

I have always believed that it’s better to spend time and energy on what’s happening next, even if that means being too early to the party. Because when all is said and done, you’ll be right on time.

Influencer marketing is a perfect example. What was once a marketing tactic that raised eyebrows in big brand budget meetings, has since become one of the hottest and most effective ways to reach highly targeted audiences. Brands that refused to put creative control in the hands of a teenager with three million followers on Instagram are now starting to see the value, and the influencer space has been booming ever since.

This unconventional way of branded messaging has grown to a billion-dollar industry in just a few years.

As someone who bet big and bet early on the importance of letting influencers tell branded stories with their own unique voices, here are the three reasons I believe it has become such an effective marketing strategy:

1. The move to mobile.

As much as big brands have questioned the emergence of influencer marketing over the past five years, they have been equally hesitant to make significant investments in mobile. Remember, it was only fairly recently that brands started to move significant portions of their budgets into mobile design, mobile engagement strategies, and most of all, re-think their approach to content and actually create it from a smartphone — not necessarily a professional camera.

The shift to mobile has been a huge reason influencer marketing has become such a huge industry. The two waves have happened simultaneously, and it’s in large part because the vast majority of social media influencers create their content with their mobile devices. They don’t go to some fancy studio and then upload it. Some do, but most don’t. They just create on the go, and, if anything, have pioneered the importance of creating high-quality content that still has that authentic feel.

If it’s too professional, it lacks the authenticity that resonates with viewers.

2. Influencers are highly relatable.

Brands can talk about how great they (and their products) are all day, but that messaging has proven to fall on deaf ears. People have gotten used to advertising. They know what it sounds like. They know what it looks like. They can spot it from a mile away.

The difference between advertising and influencer marketing is that when a product appears in an influencer’s everyday life, it does not appear as promotional as an ad. Sure, it shares some of the same qualities, but all in all the message resonates in a totally different way. It’s cool by association, not necessarily because the influencer says outright, “This is the best product ever.”

There are certainly cases where influencers are very direct with their calls to action, but when compared to the overt messaging of a TV commercial, it pales in comparison.

3. People are paying more for ad-free experiences.

Take a look at Netflix. Here, users are paying not just for access to specific shows, but for an ad-free experience.

The last thing today’s consumers want are more ads. They’re everywhere: on the tops of articles, at the bottom of apps, on TV, on the side of the road. You can’t go anywhere without seeing an ad for something.

Why influencer marketing works so well is because it doesn’t appear as an ad. There is still some value being provided to a viewer — whether that’s entertainment or knowledge. The product being mentioned is part of something bigger, and while certainly in focus, it’s not the focus. The influencer is the focus, and that’s why users are OK with it. In fact, an influencer marketing campaign done the right way can barely appear as an ad at all. It’s just really great content.

That’s the goal.

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Please comment below if this resonated with you, and reach out to me on Twitter or by email (justin@theAmplify.com) to tell me your thoughts.