A year ago, we pondered what would happen with influencer marketing in 2018. Our predictions turned out to be very accurate. In particular, we noticed the popularisation of new influencer niches, an increase in influencers appearing on television and companies increasing their influencer budgets yet again in 2018.
As a whole, you can consider the year 2018 to be the year that influencer marketing became fully mainstream. It is no longer novel or new. However, there were still important developments in influencer marketing that occurred during.
1. Influencers Chose Instagram Stories over Snapchat
To be honest, this development had already been signposted in 2017, as Instagram grew at a phenomenal rate, while Snapchat floundered. However, 2018 was the year that Instagram’s dominance became abundantly clear. Instagram exceeded one billion monthly users in June 2018, as well as 500 million daily active users.
Snapchat use peaked in Quarter 1 2018 at 191 million daily users. Since then its user base began a slide, down to 186 million by Quarter 3 2018. This is the first reported drop in Snapchat users since the social network’s launch in 2011.
Snapchat’s biggest problem has been that Instagram has replicated its features, virtually one-for-one. Instagram also caters to a broader target audience than does Snapchat, which has never really moved from favouring teenagers and those in their early twenties.
Snap compounded their misery by implementing an unpopular new interface that discriminated against influencers. As PMYB Co-Founder, Rohan Midha, told the BBC, “People want to follow influencers because they really like them, whereas Snapchat just sees them as brands”.
The biggest problem for Snapchat, however, is that brands, influencers, and (adult) users prefer Instagram Stories. Almost 80% of influencers use Instagram Stories.
2. Chromo-Influencers Mastered the New Instagram and Facebook Algorithms
Both Instagram and Facebook tinkered with their algorithms during 2018. Their goal to find the “most natural” algorithm to feed content to their users has led to clear winners and losers on both platforms – and the users are not always winners.
The biggest losers on these platforms have been brands trying to increase their reach organically. Bonsey Jarden research suggests that Facebook organic reach for businesses is now as low as 1.2%, down from 5.4% in 2015. So, on average, for every 100 followers you have for your Facebook page, only 1.2 people will see your posts. Instagram figures are similarly disappointing.
The new algorithms favour posts from family and friends over posts from businesses. This is why working with Chromo-Influencers™ can be so effective. Consumers grow emotional ties with the Chromo-Influencers they watch everyday. These social followers engage and interact with Chromo-Influencer posts as much as they do with posts from people in their everyday lives. Facebook and Instagram recognise this and prioritise these posts, over those from less influential ‘influencers’ and businesses.
It’s more important than ever to work with influencers that truly engage their social media users. Chromo-Influencers are a great option with regards to beating the Facebook and Instagram algorithms.
3. Instagram Expanded its Video Offerings
Video marketing really took off in 2018 because of the consumption habits of consumers. 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter. 45% of people view more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week. People watch more than 500 million hours of videos on YouTube each day.
One of the most significant changes in 2018 was an increase in Instagram’s video capabilities.
While Instagram started as an app to display and share your photographs, you can now include video content in your Instagram posts, Instagram Stories, Instagram Live Video, and the entirely new IGTV platform.
What is IGTV?
IGTV is essentially a TV network that, like YouTube, allows brands and influencers to broadcast videos to social media users. Although IGTV works as part of Instagram, it is also a stand-alone app.
Videos shared on IGTV can be up to an hour in duration. Unlike most of the opposition, IGTV requires uploaders to share videos in vertical format. That is, after all, how most people hold their phones.
One way IGTV is more similar to YouTube than the rest of Instagram is that it focuses on channels, rather than on a feed. If you love the videos of a particular Instagrammer, you will subscribe to their channel, and select specific videos to watch.
The expanded video offerings on Instagram have provided increased opportunities for influencers to share content with their followers. Instagram Live has proven particularly popular, and as time elapses, influencers produce better quality, more authentic videos. Influencers have also experimented with IGTV, often creating exclusive videos, due to the vertical orientation. Some influencers and brands who already possess vertical footage, have taken the opportunity to repurpose the content, for instance, film taken at fashion shows.
4. Influencer Marketing Expanded into Unexpected Niches
One of our predictions for was that influencer marketing would expand into previously untouched niches. This proved to be the case.
There are now over 30 prominent influencer niches in the influencer marketing field and even more sub-niches. Whatever your industry, there will definitely be an influencer niche for you to target your consumers.
Earlier this year we looked at some of the new influencer marketing niches that majorly grew in 2018. These notably include:
- Home renovation
- ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)
5. The Facebook Scandal Led Sceptical Brands to Genuine Influencers
Without a doubt, Mark Zuckerberg will not look back on 2018 with any degree of fondness. Facebook (the company) found itself under tremendous pressure when the news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit the headlines. Mark Zuckerberg had to testify before a congressional hearing, who grilled him over why Facebook committed such a clear data breach.
Although the Facebook Scandal didn’t affect influencer marketing per se, there have been evident flow-on effects.
As Facebook struggled to minimise the fallout, it introduced restrictions on access to data from both the Facebook and Instagram platforms. This made life more difficult for firms trying to obtain data to evaluate influencer performance. For example, the company cut developer access to firms wanting to work with the Instagram API. This significantly limits that data that Instagram makes available to other apps.
This has made things more difficult for companies trying to identify suitable influencers. Several apps that previously existed to help with influencer selection have now had to change their focus or close down entirely.
Fewer tools assisting the selection process of influencers makes the work performed by influencer agencies even more valuable now.
6. Influencer Fraud Became Less Problematic
2018 was by no means the year influencer fraud becomes prevalent. Aspiring ‘influencers’ have been automating their engagements and buying fake followers for several years. Despite this, 2018 was the year where influencer fraud became more mainstream.
However, so did solutions for the influencer fraud problem. In early 2017 PMYB developed the 5 Stage Chromo-Analysis Influencer selection process – A selection process based off real campaign data of over 600 influencers. And in 2018 the team set out to make it even stronger!
7. Ad Disclosure Increased
The essence of successful influencer marketing is authenticity. However, some influencers try to hide their paid sponsored posts.
Unfortunately, these actions are misleading to their audiences.
This type of activity came to the attention of regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. Both the FTC in the USA and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), here in Britain, have issued edicts making it clear that influencers need to be fair to their followers. They made it clear that influencers needed to label their paid posts clearly.
Instagram, YouTube and Facebook reacted to the FTC’s proclamations and set up an easy way for influencers to mark posts as Sponsored.
Interestingly, the majority of influencers and the brands they’ve represented have not suffered from this need to label their posts as sponsored. It’s also helped keep authenticity in the industry.