In the last (but not least) of the 2020 predictions, these industry experts share their biggest predictions for next year – it looks like the popularity of virtual influencers will grow, more influencers will

protect their rights, brands will diversify their influencer marketing spend across a multitude of platforms, and authentic content will be king. 

Alice Pavin, Tailify

“Just because virtual influencers aren’t real, doesn’t mean they can’t have real influence. In fact, 54% of UK consumers find virtual ‘people’ appealing (Mindshare). Since Lil Miquela first appeared in 2016, robot after robot has made its appearance in the Wild West of Instagram. Today, the virtual influencers are well sought after by some of the worlds biggest brands. Not only because they are out of this world (pun intended), but because they allow brands to have increased control, from the way a product is displayed to what’s written about it, to another extent than what’s possible with real influencers. As for next year, not only is the growth of virtual influencers a no-brainer, expect seeing brands creating their own perfect influencers.”

Philip van den Braak, Traackr

“2020 could mean a step away from the traditional expectations (i.e the prediction that brands will focus more on micro-influencers is so 2017.) With Instagram rolling out the ‘likeless feed’ test globally, they may be on the brink of kick-starting a chain of events within the influencer marketing industry. Next year could see a variety of things happen, but With Tik-Tok having built a ‘creator marketplace’ element and talks of opening up their API next year, we could see brands diversifying their influencer marketing spend across a multitude of platforms depending on what they’re trying to achieve, with perhaps less of a focus on Instagram alone. Keep an eye out on platforms such as Vero, too, which prides itself on not running ads, nor having an algorithm (although brands can still collaborate with Influencers on the platform). Driven by the potential removal of public likes, in addition to the ‘boosting’ function, with Instagram now offering brands the opportunity to promote sponsored influencer content as ads, we’re more than likely to see more authentic and creative content, that can efficiently be turned into adverts. For us influencer marketers; it’s odd to think that by the end of 2020, there is a very high probability that may not be able to click on an Influencer’s public profile on Instagram and proudly claim that a post over (or under) performed based on their engagement rate.”

Paul Greenwood, head of research and insight, We Are Social

“Throughout 2019, there’s been a rise in cynicism from brands and consumers when it comes to influencers and influencer marketing. This is especially true in relation to influencers without any particular talent to back up their significant social media activity something often more prevalent in the travel and lifestyle space. This increased cynicism has given way to the trend of ‘shitposting’ accounts profiles that post content that is often of ironically, trollishly poor quality or simply posting the same content ad infinitum. For example, @world_record_egg was a picture of a solitary egg that became the most-liked image on Instagram. This phenomenon is a way for communities to push back on online social hierarchies, by creating content that openly mocks influencer culture.Looking ahead to next year, we’re likely to see the influencers that are famous for simply being famous start to fall away. We’ll see more scrutiny around their ability to drive action and attribution back to brands.As a result, we’re also likely to see a further blurring between the celebrity and influencer worlds – squeezing the influencers who are not big enough to provide scale to brands but, at the same time, are too big to be authentic to the consumer.”

Daniel Schotland, chief operating officer, Linqia

“With 92% of consumers trusting influencer marketing over traditional advertising, brands will adopt the former as an ‘always-on’ strategy and rely more on machine learning, which is increasingly vital in determining which influencers and content will resonate best for a specific audience. Machine learning helps us see and understand consumer reactions, and is especially useful for handling the increasing amount of influencer-produced visual content on platforms like Instagram. Did they interact with the image with a dog or the one with the woman? Such learnings allow us to inform future campaigns to create the best and highest performing content.”

Oliver Lewis, managing director, The Fifth

“2020 will be the year that the arms race to prove ROI in influencer marketing will begin in earnest. We will see a shift towards longer-term brand metrics and tracking and brands will start to demand access to influencer’s data direct from source ahead of partnering on paid campaigns.”

Ben Jeffries, CEO and co-founder of Influencer

“As 2020 approaches the debate on micro vs macro-influencers has transformed. Previously, it was believed that bigger was better, with people touting the brand awareness benefits of macro creators. More recently, the industry has seen a huge focus on micro-influencers for their targeting purposes. Today, we would advise that brands focus on combining a mixture of creators to leverage the benefits associated with both micro, macro and even hero creators, those with over 1 million creators. When considering the importance of scale it in influencer marketing, it is clear that one of the main benefits of utilising macro creators is the power and ability to reach wider audiences, generate mass conversation and increase brand awareness. On the other hand, micro creators excel at generating engagement and conversions within targeted niche markets. When a campaign includes macro and micro creators simultaneously, both are able to offer a multi-faceted approach to a campaign, thus, leading to increased consumer trust and engagement.”

Maarten Kesteloot, CEO at Influo

“A bigger part of the marketing budget is being allocated to influencer marketing year over year. With this increase in budgets comes the increase in importance and visibility of influencer marketing within corporations, and increased awareness of liability and legal repercussions. Government bodies (such as the FTC and ASA) are increasingly acting against the unlawful advertising that influencer marketing can be, and warning or even fining brands and influencers that break the rules. This will become even stronger in 2020, and brands and professional influencers will need contracts to make sure their legal responsibilities are well defined and liabilities are minimized or covered. Today, many brands and influencers still collaborate without a clearly defined contract. While global brands and agencies have embraced contracts to rule out legal grey zones, this is not the case yet for most smaller brands that are less aware of the legal repercussions or nuances. 2020 is the year during which smaller brands will also jump on the contract-bandwagon.On top of that, we see more and more influencers take charge of their influencer career and protect their rights by creating their own contracts and asking brands to sign them when collaborating.”

Let us know your top 2020 influencer marketing prediction by Tweeting us at @talkinginfluence.

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