Firstly who and what do social marketing influencers do? They are people who have established credibility; they have access to a broad audience and can persuade others due to their authenticity and reach.

History of the influencer

Influencer marketing is not a new craze, it has been around for a very long time that can date back to the time of the Queen and the Pope who endorsed medicine to influence the ordinary people to consume. It’s safe to say they were one of the first influencers in the history of influencer marketing.

In 1890 R.T. Davis Millings company launched their first marketing campaign using Aunt Jemima, a well-known celebrity from the Minstrel show to become the face of their ready-made pancake mix. She was known as the first American celebrity to influence buying decisions.

We can’t forget the large man in the red suit of course we mean Santa. Coca Cola launched their first Santa campaign in the 1930s.

How is influencer marketing making big money?

It’s simple…. If you like/love the person, you trust and believe what they are promoting. As a consumer, you feel that you want to be associated with that person. It’s the same old thing, people buy from people, not from brands. We look for a connection; we want to be like them, aspire to them and trust their thoughts and opinions.

In 2010 things started to take a turn. The rise of social media, with Facebook leading the way in 2010 the social giant had 500 million users this has exploded to 2.4Bn in 2019. Amazon recognised the potential of social media and partnered with them; they shared information online with users and their friend’s insights such as; what they were buying, recommendations, and reviews to influence purchases. This brought success to Amazon which made other brands sit up and pay attention to this potentially lucrative marketing opportunity.

Present Day

Social media has become an intrinsic part of our lives, we have gained access to the world, people we connect with and celebrities we want to follow, all with the touch of an app. We can enjoy ‘in the moment’ experiences with our friends. Share our opinions and look for recommendations immediately, while also been recommended services and products close to our personal choice and previous purchase decisions.

The three most significant platforms for individual influence are Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Instagram has seen a rise from 1.26 million sponsored influencer posts in 2016 to 4.9 million in 2019. (Statista sponsored influencer content).

Brands have seen some great success utilising influencer marketing, here a few examples of successful influencer campaigns;

Sprint: #LiveUnlimited latest influencer campaign uses the hashtag #LiveUnlimited and features people who have massive social media presences. The best part is that these people naturally embody the appearance and lifestyle of #LiveUnlimited. Elite Daily founder Gerard Adams and internet personality Lele Pons are just two of them. Live Unlimited campaign

Old Navy: Boys & Girls Club of America Old Navy is a veteran of influencer marketing, has partnered with fashion and lifestyle bloggers all over Instagram to promote various lines of Old Navy clothing. For Black Friday, the company doubled down on this strategy by partnering with New York Yankee retiree Alex Rodriguez to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA). Being an alumnus of the BGCA, Rodriguez’s promotion helped Old Navy raise $1 million as part of sales during Black Friday alone. Cozy Socks campaign

Fiji Water: #Bodyworewhat campaign, partnering with Instagram influencer Danielle Bernstein, known for fashion blog #WeWoreWhat, which has over 2 million followers.

Fiji-water created one of their most successful influencer campaigns to date. Fiji Water’s goal was to have their water associated with the body and health-conscious community. They created a series of 8-minute videos and posted on social media which boosted engagement and was a massive hit for Danielle Bernstein’s fans. Bodyworewhat campaign

What Are Todays’ Social Media Influencer Challenges?

Social Media has been in the press more so over the last few years and not in a good way. Fake news, fake accounts, trolling, and political ads have made consumers mistrust what they are consuming. According to YouGov and Grey London, 96% of people do not trust influencers. The survey goes on to say 63% trust social media less, which is at odds with the 25% of people they found to have increased their social activity.

Trust is a huge issue; consumers need to feel they can trust what they read, hear and watch, we have a long way to go to repair the damage over the last few years. The UK’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been cracking the whip in recent years, including tightening up the rules around declaring paid-for content online and cautioning ‘hundreds’ of influencers and brands for breaking strict guidelines around paid-for posts on the likes of Instagram.

Marketers have their work cut out for them with critical challenges such as;

  1. Spotting fake followers:

2. Social algorithm changes:

3. Building an always-on strategy:

4. Rising influencer costs:

5. Creating a robust creative strategy.

Predictions For 2020

Firstly, Brands will want influencers that match their brand values.

Celebrities may become less relevant, ‘keeping it real’ is key.

Brands will form longer-term relationships with influencers.

Instagram, Facebook and Youtube remain the most popular channels, but keep an eye on Tik Tok.

I am hoping 2020 will be a year of authenticity. We need trust to be restored on our social platforms. We will see more relevant bite-sized video content, which lends itself quite nicely to the new kid on the block Tik Tok.