Before we delve into the reasons why influencer marketing is growing so much, let’s start from the top and define what it is first.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing generally refers to swaying the buying decisions and loyalty of the broader population by a brand, using its biggest fans.

This could be someone with a high-above-average social following that has an affinity with a brand that’s looking to leverage said social following to market a… thing (product or service).

It has become pervasive in media and marketing in recent years, but has been around for a long time before now in one shape or another. New rules though, in the social sphere, mean that endorsements of this nature have to be properly labeled as such.

An example of influencer marketing can be seen, most likely, in your favourite social media feed. Here’s one example from the man, the myth; Swedish football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who took to screens on social during his move from PSG to Manchester United, in an effort to give Volvo a boost.

Infuencer Marketing Example

For me it is all about looking forward, not back. A new journey is starting – both for me and for @volvocars. #MadeBySweden.

Hardly subtle, but within two hours it had garnered almost 400,000 likes and thousands of comments. With eyeballs on content to that extent, it easy to see why Volvo was interested in an endorsement of any sort from the Zlat-man.

Why is influencer marketing such a big thing?

Interest in the term “influencer marketing” is growing to hereto unprecedented levels. Take a look at the capture below from Google trends (last five years).

There’s interest, but there’s also money in it for the influencer and for the brand selling their wares.

Money

Take into account for a minute, the outlay involved in influencer marketing. Marketers are willing to pay up to £75,174 for a Facebook post alone.

Influencer Marketing Spending Chart

That seems like a lot, of course. Considering though that media is so fragmented these days – there is no one size fits all solution that a planner can buy to reach a brand’s audience per se – so perhaps social influencer marketing has a part to play.

Indeed, when you consider that repurposing of content from influencer programs is possible, the practice makes more sense. So for instance, that one Facebook post we talked about becomes more than just one post, but a value asset from which a suite can be created. US marketers say that they repurpose content for A) their own social channels, rather than for the channel of the influencer, B) On their own sites, C) For ads on Social Media, D) Display ads on digital media sites and E) Programmatic exchange ads, to name but a few.

Influencer Marketing repurposing

So, they reuse this content a lot. Influencer marketing has value far beyond the “post”.

…and More Money

The returns possible are also a huge driver of the growth in influencer marketing which continues to astound. Take a look at the table below from RhythmOne. Pay particular attention to the cost per engagement column, which is healthy in each industry measured and provides another key avenue other than your bog-standard, “I’ve a bottle of Cif… wanna buy my bottle of Cif?” model of paid social advertising which clearly doesn’t stand out from the rest of the feed, and costs more per engagement, typically.

Influencer Marketing Benchmarks

So, we’ve learned that social influencer marketing is lucrative for influencers and valuable for brands, from the data.

Why else is it growing? Well, because social and digital usage is more prevalent now than ever before. At the same time, one of the oldest ways to commercialise content, digital display, is stagnating. Digital display banners have been around for a long time. Banner blindness may be an issue that could contribute to digital display’s downfall along with viewability and ad-blocking issues that dog the industry. Take the fact that Google, an advertising behemoth which I’ve written about before, is introducing an ad-blocker built into its Chrome browser later this year, and you’ll see that the appetite for display ads is diminishing for sure.

If we overlay the interest in “digital display” with that same data we saw earlier with interest in “influencer marketing”, the point I’ve raised above is borne out vividly:

Digital display (last five years remains relatively stable, whereas influencer is growing far more.

Taking it back an extra few years, and looking at the last 14 years, then digital display’s trajectory is actually going backward:

The reason that many are astounded by the growth of influencer marketing and how that plays against the rest of the media landscape is that it has come from almost nowhere. The fact that new rules have come in, meaning that its adoption is likely to follow.

Why influencer marketing is growing in 2018

A key reason for this is the growth of the micro-influencer. Their figures are above on the table too, and the fees are substantially lower. Not everyone can have the pulling power of a Kardashian but with enough micro-influencers brands feel that they can get their messages across. Take the recent Visa #TapIntoIreland campaign, which is full to the brim with influencers, rather than just the one. There’s broader appeal that way.

The growth of micro-influencers is not to be sniffed at. In many cases, the establishment of their own brand has been forged by hard work and no small amount of social savvy. That’s why influencers are right to feel affronted when the more cynical components of society like Paul Stenson try to steal a march and make their own mark from an unsuspecting “real” influencer, in that case the influencer Elle Darby was, in my view, wronged.

In Ireland, there are quite a few outlets for micro-influences, and of course many consumers of the content they create. In the US or the UK, the figures are much, much larger. Taking the Irish example though, there are events such as blogger conf, a conference for bloggers, digital creatives and influencers and the blog awards, awards show for the best in blogging, many of whom are influencers.

Is influencer marketing just the latest trend?

What can be said unequivocally is that is it is a trend but whether that means that it as we know it now will cease just as quick as it started, will only be known in the fullness of time. I’d much prefer to be able to interact though with an influencer rather than a faceless brand, and don’t think I’m alone in that thought.

Wanna talk Marketing? Contact me to hear more. For now though, help a guy out and follow me on my social profiles at the bottom of the page. You never know, you might forge the next social star 😉