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Top Content Creators Share their Vision for the Future of Influencer Marketing

As influencer marketing evolves, brands and content creators are constantly adjusting to new trends, regulations and more efficient tactics to help improve the industry and collaborations with one another. To gather some predictions moving forward, we contacted five of our top creators on the Freestak platform and asked what their vision was for the future of influencer marketing.

Continued growth for the industry and higher attention on authenticity

Sarah Pappusch, @runforlifeandsmile_, Germany 38K total reach Primary sport: Running, triathlon, cycling Collaborations between content creators and brands have progressed over the years, and Sarah believes that more and more people will continue to join the industry and become influencers themselves. As a result, she predicts that companies will continue to expand their influencer marketing programs. In 2019, influencer marketing is expected to grow into potentially a $6.5 billion industry, more than double what it was in 2017. However, with this growth, Sarah recognizes the need for brands to pay more attention to the authenticity of social accounts and ensuring profiles are real and not bought. Alongside the growth of influencer marketing comes the pressure to be better than your competition which can lead to incidences of buying followers. The Wall Street Journal reported information from the Points North Group – a company that analyzes influencer marketing – which found that mid-level influencers with a following between 50K-100K often have about 20% fake followers.

Though many of these influencers could be victims, brands are still paying content creators to reach an audience that is partially fake. Recognizing authentic engagement and flagging suspicious activity could be a step in the right direction for brands.

More long-term relationships between brands and content creators

Marcus Brown, @themarathonmarcus, United Kingdom 17K total reach Primary sport: Running For Marcus, an ideal future for influencer marketing would be more long-term relationships between content creators and brands that tell a joint authentic story. At the moment, he feels the message gets lost in short promotions based on new products and seasons. “As the digital space gets more saturated, the balance between authenticity and branding needs to be carefully managed,” he said. Due to the lack of long-term partnerships, Marcus thinks the public could potentially lose faith in micro influencers, when they had greater trust in them in the past. According to a report from the Influencer Marketing Hub, 65% of influencer marketing is campaign-based, while the remaining 35% is “always on,” suggesting long-term relationships. However, it was also found that brands are beginning to notice the benefits of long-term relationships and discovering genuine connections that can come from them. “If you can align [your experience] to brands that you share a common vision with then that’s the ideal,” Marcus said.

Greater focus on engagement over high followings

Sophie Radcliffe, @challengesophie, United Kingdom 93K total reach Primary sport: Cycling “Engagement is everything,” according to Sophie. She recognizes the need for brands to focus much more on this when considering future collaborations, rather than the size of a content creator’s following.  In fact, the Influencer Marketing Hub report found that engagement rates begin to fall with the more followers an influencer has.
Additionally, it was also found that businesses are relying more on engagement when analyzing which criteria is most important during an influencer marketing campaign. Though reach was not too far behind.
  • Engagement or clicks – 43%
  • Views/reach/impressions – 33%
  • Content type/category – 24%
It’s a content creator’s engagement and commitment to his or her community that are the keys to success for Sophie. Working with more micro influencers with high engagement rates in the future leads her to predict more sustainability for both parties involved.

Increased use of audio and video content

Charlie Watson, @therunnerbeans, United Kingdom  70K total reach Primary sport: Running In addition to managing social feeds including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, Charlie also began focusing attention on building her YouTube channel, The Runner Beans. After joining two years ago, she has gained over 88K views. Due to the success of video content, all major social networks now support video, and Charlie predicts a continued expansion of video and audio content throughout the influencer marketing industry. The Influencer Marketing Hub made its own predictions for the future of the industry and also included an increase in the importance of video. The article references to a forecast by Cisco stating that 82% of all internet traffic will be video by 2022.
Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Trends, 2017–2022
All in all, “making content authentic, useful and engaging is key,” Charlie said.

More storytelling throughout content

Michele Mossali, @mmossa, Italy 62K total reach Primary sport: Running, cycling As the industry evolves, Michele thinks that content creators need to tell more personal stories to their community, “tell them their feelings, their experiences and be real.” An effective use of storytelling can not only be relatable and inspirational, but it can be a monumental tactic in a marketing campaign. With 92% of consumers admitting they are more likely to trust their peers over advertising, brands are beginning to realize that an influencer’s story matters. With the expanding use of video and social media features, telling your own personal story online is becoming more and more visually accessible. Including more storytelling throughout influencer marketing can help increase engagement, build trust, and create a healthy space for life-changing encouragement.  Michele uses his influence to show his community that it’s possible to have a better life and that it can be really easy. By sharing his personal stories and challenges, he hopes to encourage his followers to create their own challenges each day as well.  “I’d like to see more and more people love sports like me,” he said.

Takeaways

Collaborations between brands and content creators continue to expand, though not without adapting to new tactics along the way. With this growth, both parties are continuing to recognize the need for authentic, genuine relationships and how long-term partnerships can be worth the investment. The battle between high engagement rates and high followings remains a topic of discussion, but trends are leading towards an increased focus on the importance of engagement. Sharing personal stories and videos of how content creation can make a difference is a major contributor to one’s success. What are your predictions for the future of influencer marketing? Leave a comment and share your vision for the industry.
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