What a year it’s been for the influencer marketing industry. With plenty of debates around regulation, increasing influencer fines, more data available than ever before, and social media platforms starting to take note of the effect it may be having on users, next year is only set to be even more exciting as this ever-evolving space continues to grow from strength to strength. Industry experts share their biggest predictions for next year – community building, influencer advocacy, and careful influencer selection seem to be top of the list. 

Mike Hondorp, CMO of Whalar

“The biggest trend we predict for 2020 is what we’re calling the rise of influencer advocacy. Research shows that for the significant majority of consumers, their key influence when purchasing is whether a brand is taking a stand and supporting social issues. The same is true of creators; in our recently published Trends: 2020 report, we analysed 15,000+ creator accounts and found that they too are increasingly posting content related to causes, initiatives or issues that are important to them. Especially in next year’s US election cycle, look for more creators to take a stand on the issues that matter to them, and for brands to increasingly work with influencers on social- and cause-related initiatives.”

William Soulier, CEO and co-founder of Talent Village

 “Certainly, one of the biggest challenges the industry faced in 2019 was the vociferous headlines and editorial pieces forecasting the demise of influencer marketing. We predict 2020 will be about rebuilding trust in the industry, which can be achieved by working with true talent over and above influence. By adopting a talent-led approach, we are better able to solve growing concerns regarding fake followers, promote diversity and increase advocacy as we continue to focus on building long- term partnerships and deliver authentic and credible results.”

David Neuman, Director, Sales Strategy, RhythmOne

“We expect more experiential activations involving influencers in 2020 that will allow people to interact with talent in an in-person setting as opposed to just digitally. While these event experiences will be captured and promoted through social content, there will be a more personal connection between people and influencers as a result of consumers being able to experience both a product, service, and influencer in real life.The connection between influencers and people will also be more transactional in nature in 2020 with an increase in users being able to see and immediately buy products promoted by influencers. This is due to advancements in technology being developed by Instagram, Facebook and other social networks that make the buying experience easier for people who want to purchase products promoted by influencers.” 

Klara Verzele, influencer marketing manager at Influo

Influencer selection will become more important. By working with a bigger pool of influencers in a first wave, and evaluating the performance of the influencers, consecutive waves of the campaign can be better optimised for the buyer personas you want to target. Campaigns that are executed in multiple waves and that work with influencers on a long-term basis perform better. While influencer marketing tools can greatly help with all of these challenges, well-executed influencer marketing campaigns will keep being labour-heavy in 2020.”

Michael Khalili, VP of Marketing, AspireIQ

From consumer to business markets, advertising over-saturation will continue to motivate customers and decision-makers to seek the advice of those they know, like, and trust. In this world, it is influencers, content creators, customers, and brand advocates that will reconnect brands with their audiences and be the voices that help those brands achieve the authenticity that their audiences crave. Already, brands like Glossier, Revolve, and even Trader Joes, which has over adozen devoted shoppers turned content creators, have proven community building to be a successful strategy, leading many more brands to follow suit in 2020.”

Simone Stevens, senior influencer strategist, Pegasus

“With authenticity, still a major feature for the influencer industry, I foresee that the responsibility of those working in the industry will be to strengthen research processes and tighten up the justification for working with and proposing influencers to clients. Ensuring that brands and clients really are working with the right influencers, and not just working with a pool of talent that is convenient. These processes need to be strategic, logical, and backed with data to ensure a fully valid approach is taken, which identifies the right influencers for the campaign. Both the influencer and audience data need to be evaluated as part of this process to ensure the findings are not only considered but will support the campaign objectives.This approach needs to be independent, and not reliant on ‘go-to relationships’, and quick wins. We can no longer work in this way as it is not genuine or in many cases it is not seeing a good return for the brand. A stronger, well thought out and considered approach to identifying the right influencers will help and support all parties involved feel more comfortable with authenticity.  Working in this way will also resonate with the consumer audience, to be more confident in influencer marketing, whilst forming a more positive and engaging outlook for the industry as a whole.”

Jennifer Quigley-Jones, founder of Digital Voices

“The main trend that we’re seeing from brands is a desire to be creative with influencer marketing, particularly with sound on and long-form content. Brands are tired of cliché Instagram posts of creators posing with products. They want campaigns to elicit an emotive response often including YouTube videos, experiential marketing or meet-and-greets. A secondary trend is brands and agencies stepping up their usage of creators to produce paid social assets. Including creators in paid campaigns and media buying strategies tends to drive more conversions than brand-owned assets. One client recently even commissioned a creator to produce assets to use in paid social ads, without any organic posts. Brands are getting more strategically savvy with their use of creators throughout the digital customer journey.”

Adam Williams, CEO ofTakumi

As the industry continues to mature in 2020, we expect to see a shift towards exclusive collaborations with brands and influencers alike seeking long-term partnerships. For this to work, brands are going to have to relinquish some of the creative control and trust influencers to act as their own creative directors – currently, 36% of UK marketers feel they should have complete control of the content they have paid for. Consumers are savvier than ever, so long-term relationships with brands that allow influencers to fully explore their creativity will be well-received by followers and reinforce the authenticity of the collaboration. Hand in hand with longer-term partnerships, 2020 will see an increase in influencers licensing their Instagram content for use across a brand’s above the line activity. As influencers venture into multi-channel offerings, it’s likely we’ll witness influencers playing a key role in more holistic, integrated campaigns across a variety of mediums.”
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