Influencer marketing is a $1 billion industry and is steadily rising. One billion. It seems like I chose the wrong field of work. 2017 saw a lot of growth and changes within the industry and as we look on to 2018, it’s important to take note of the lessons we learned. Knowing what worked well and what bombed on platforms like Instagram and Facebook will allow both brands and influencers to adapt and tweak their marketing strategies in the new year. The following are 6 things we learned in influencer marketing in 2017.

  1. Analytics has improved

One of the biggest initial downsides of influencer marketing is that it was tough to calculate your return on investment. It’s no fun throwing money at something if you don’t know what you’ll get back from it. Luckily, the ability for marketers, brands, and influencers to measure ROI with audience and engagement data has vastly improved over the past year.  The sophistication of analytics tools on social platforms like Instagram are allowing us to more accurately measure our return on influencer marketing efforts.

  1. It goes beyond social media

In the beginning, influencer marketing revolved solely around social media. Today though, brands are looking for influencers to offer more than that. In order to create a consistent brand story with their marketing campaigns, brands are now expecting their influencers to participate or create additional non-social content including podcasts, TV commercials, and e-commerce advertising. This, of course, is appropriately compensated for. While this started in 2017,  we can expect to see a lot more brands using influencers beyond their social media channels in 2018.

  1. There’s a dark side to influencer marketing

In its infancy, influencer marketing seemed too good to be true. Brands were getting an 11x ROI compared to a much lower return from those ancient marketing methods we were using before. Just like with anything amazing though, there’s a dark side we need to be weary of.

In 2017, we saw a lot of fraud sullying the influencer marketing name. Between fake followers, fake accounts and bots, brands learned the hard way that influencers aren’t always what they seem.

When it comes to FTC regulations that require influencers and brands to disclose when a post is sponsored, some argue that it makes it impossible to appear authentic that way. How can you trust what the influencer is selling when it says right above the photo that they were paid to say it? Others, however, argue that even stricter regulations need to be enforced.

  1. Influencers are often the best content creators

One huge plus of influencer marketing as it’s grown is that the influencer is not only a face, but a creative. More and more brands in 2017 are giving their influencers the creative freedom to run wild with their content creation. And that’s exactly as it should be. Successful influencers are successful because they know how to create content that their followers want to see. They know what’ll kill and they know what’ll flop.

2017 saw brands recognizing the value of influencers being more than just their follower count. They’re not only paying them for that, but they’re paying them to gain access to their knowledge and insight into what creatively works with their target market.

  1. Content shock is a real thing

There is a crazy amount of content being published across social media channels every single second. With new information with every click of the refresh button, it’s easy to feel drowned by it all. Understandably, the more content being published, the less action each post is getting. This inverse correlation between number of posts and engagement rate is alarming for brands and influencers alike.

In order to mitigate this issue, it’s important to spot social trends early, build your reputation and authority, create exceptional, unique content, narrow your niche, and amplify the promotion of your content to stand out among all the noise.

  1. Facebook engagement is declining

When it comes to influencer marketing, there’s always been the debate of which social media platform is best. Is it Facebook? Instagram? LinkedIn? Scratch that- it’s definitely not LinkedIn. In the past year though, we’ve seen a decline in Facebook engagement overall. This is due in large part to content overload and to competition for audience’s attention. With a higher number of content being published to this platform, the engagement rate per post is falling.

If you’re participating in influencer marketing over Facebook, it’s important to know then what sparks the most engagement. Though it varies from topic to topic, there are certain tactics that tend to work across the board. This includes asking questions to incite a response, inviting audience participation, conducting polls, and using video content over photos.

 

As this industry is quickly evolving, the learning curve is steep and continuously changing. With 2017 having come and gone, it’s imperative that we look back to learn from our marketing blunders in order to better succeed in 2018.