While last year was about the growth of paid media in the digital space, this year it is will be about how well brands can influence the social media influencer to develop better brand equity and consumer engagement.
In fact, influencer marketing has emerged as one of the fastest-growing social marketing practices as brand marketers look to connect with consumers and customers in meaningful and authentic ways. They seek the collective voice of active bloggers that are passionate and vocal about the brands they love.
Recently BlogFrog, the US-based based influencer marketing technology provider outlined major trends it believes will shape the influencer marketing industry in 2013.”During the past year, influencer marketing has experienced tremendous growth based on the continued maturity of technology platforms, best practices and the savvy work of brand marketers across a range of industries. We see strong momentum continuing to build in 2013 as PR, digital marketing and advertising domains all bring specific areas of expertise to influencer marketing that will further increase its value to major brands,” said Rustin Banks, co-founder and CEO for BlogFrog.
Major trends for influencer marketing in 2013 include:
Earned media will rival paid and owned: Maturation of paid search and banner advertising tools drove the shift in spending from traditional media (print and TV) to digital starting in the early 90s. Owned media had its fame this past decade as publishing tools and the globalization of social media made it easier for marketers to create and publish content on branded assets. The rise of influencers and social distribution will make earned media the Holy Grail for marketers in 2013. Marketers realize that peer-generated content engages consumers better than branded content, and increased earned media focus will naturally follow.
Standalone solutions will give way to marketplaces: Most industries that experience rapid innovation tend to remain fragmented for several years before integrated platforms emerge. This happened with operating systems, social platforms, data solutions and is happening in influencer marketing. Marketers and influencers will tire of the standalone ways influencers and their content are identified, rated, mobilized, distributed and measured. In response, the industry will develop marketplaces where brands and content creators can connect, negotiate, collaborate and compensate, all within a single platform.
Influence will be modeled, not just measured: Once the industry accepts standards for measuring influence, look for models to emerge that let brands predict how much reach, engagement and impact an influencer marketing program will have based on sophisticated algorithms that take into consideration more than just unique visitors and Twitter followers. Leading marketers will find ways to quantify engagement, relevance, audience affinity and consumer influence, and model these impact factors as strategic elements of social campaigns.
Data will drive content creation: As better data becomes available to marketers, data-driven approaches will emerge to determine what type of content gets created and where it gets disseminated. Both marketers and publishers continue to get more sophisticated about predicting which content will be most viral, and then surfacing that content for consumers. Content creators and publishers will work together to provide the analytics needed to determine its success based on pre-determined KPI’s.
B2B companies will embrace social: It’s not just B2C companies that benefit from social media marketing. In 2013, B2B marketers will build stronger fan bases and improve their ability to show ROI from social campaigns. B2B marketers will continue to embrace social tools, like LinkedIn, Twitter and corporate blogs, to drive traffic to websites, build product awareness and connect with customers online. Marketers will work with influencers to generate content that will be seen by professionals looking for thought leadership and builds brand credibility
Niche content will give way to crossover content: Early banner ads and SEO systems were able to predictably generate millions of impressions and thousands of click-throughs. However, consumers are now “ad-blind” and websites are saturated with ads, driving engagement rates to ineffectively low levels. Influencer marketing enables brands to be an integrated part of targeted content, instead of a distraction in the sidebar. Today’s leading branded social networks, like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, are blending the use of sophisticated targeting algorithms with content integration strategies to reach target consumers like never before. In 2013, we’ll see this trend continue as brands leverage cross-over content options to reach even more targeted consumers.
(Illustration courtesy www.wizmaya.com)