The Influence of Influencers in 2018

The below article was written by Lee Benecke, Head of Social for Manchester based PR company Brazen.

You can’t hide from the influence of the influencer; from top ten prediction lists to marketing briefs, it’s the number one activity for brands and marketers alike.

Although not new – we are essentially talking about word of mouth marketing at scale – it is set to be big business in 2018 and a hot topic when the speakers take to the stage at Event City this month.

While we wait for the keynotes, let’s look at the key trends that will govern how we work with influencers this year.

Celebrities Become Influencers, Influencers Become Celebrities

The line between celebrity and influencer is already blurred but we’re going to see a more intertwined mix of tactics around each sub group this year. In 2017, we saw influencers converge with older media models with appearances on television, high profile book deals and physical product launches becoming commonplace. As they look to further monetize their audience and find new ways to add value to their own personal brands, we will see more of this occurring, but we will also see traffic coming in the opposite direction.

Celebrities’ influence largely relies on their old media appearances, so finding a home in key channels such as YouTube or Instagram is going to do wonders to build digital influence. Expect to see more celebrities building personal brands within digital and experimenting with becoming always-on creators like their digitally native counterparts.

New Niches and Specialisms

Influencers have been most commonly found in high interest verticals such as fashion, beauty, parenting and food but as influencer marketing grows so will the niches in which people create content around. In each of the verticals mentioned, we are already seeing sub groups appear (think about the advent of dad bloggers following an initial mummy boom) and every day we are seeing new niches/topics appear.

From age-old hobbies and activities to new trends; if there is a groundswell of conversation then there is an opportunity to build an engaged audience and influence them.

Long Term Partnerships Over Single-Serving Content

To-date marketers have largely used influencers in a generic way; usually to a specific brief and specific outcome. Influencers are creators-first, so showing up in their Inbox with fully fledged ideas isn’t always the right way to approach. Brands (and PR agencies) who bring them closer to idea generation and use them as an extension of your team will see deeper, more meaningful (and arguably, more influential) partnerships. This approach will also strengthen your relationship with the influencer and translate into longer term partnerships rather than single hits of paid for content being distributed in their newsfeed.

Follow the Rules

As interest and investment in influencers continues to grow, the marketplace around measurement and transparency of paid-for partnerships will too. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission has issued strict guidelines for disclosing relationships between brands and influencers and we’re seeing the same in the UK as everyone from the ASA to the platforms themselves identify new rules and tools for tagging your influencer campaigns. If the influencer market is going to continue to grow and provide profits for brands and creators alike, then governance will be key. No more #ad or #spon.

It’s an exciting and emerging area in marketing and we’re looking forward to seeing how it evolves over time and what role each agency carves out for itself in the influencer marketing mix. We firmly believe that PRs are best placed to lead the way (yes, we would say that!). But given influencer relations is essentially storytelling and is a PR discipline based on 1-to-1 relationships, how could it not be? Getting on someone’s radar and building relationships is in a PR professional’s DNA. We’d love to hear what you think about this trend.

Brazen is a multi-award winning PR & Content Marketing agency with offices in Manchester and Dubai. They will be exhibiting at this year’s Prolific North Live, learn more about them here.