With the influx of Instagram Stories and IGTV, brands are investing heavily into influencer content and relationships. Instagram's overall users have grown significantly over the last four years with no plans of stopping.
On YouTube in 2018, the number of channels earning six figures per year grew by more than 40 percent year on year.
Influencers certainly seem to have a place in brand awareness campaigns. So what could happen in 2019?
It examined Instagram posts published between January 2013 to July 2018 which were labelled as paid partnerships by the use of 68 sponsoring hashtags such as #ad, #commercial, #spon across 15 different languages.
It discovered that 39 percent of Instagram accounts with over 15K followers are influencers, with the rest being brands or companies. Almost one third of Instagram channels are micro-influencer, with fewer than 100K followers.
Mega-influencers with over 5 million followers account make up less than one percent of influencers. These micro-influencers – who have between 15,000 and 100,000 followers - account for the majority of sponsored Instagram posts.
Technology is not favoured on Instagram, accounting for just one percent of posts. A quarter of all sponsored posts cover fashion, followed by food (12 percent) and entertainment (11 percent).
Influencers can earn big bucks on YouTube. Aurora, IL-based packaging distributor Shorr Packaging conducted an analysis of more than 1,500 YouTube user channels. It wanted to learn more about the growing impact of YouTube influencer marketing.
In October 2018, it analyzed the 3,000 most recently uploaded "haul" and "unbox" videos on YouTube.
Over a thousand of these types of videos are produced each week, and top influencers count their total views in billions.
A haul video is where an influencer discusses a number of products they have purchased, on shopping spree, known as a "haul". An unbox is where a person opens a package with a product in it, then reviews or uses the product.
Top Haul categories are clothing at 59 percent, general discount at 11 percent and beauty and makeup at 9 percent.
Top unboxing categories are: toys at 29 percent, phones and accessories at 16 percent, computers tablets and accessories at 10 percent, and gaming consoles and accessories at 7 percent.
The estimated annual earnings for the average haul-er is less than $6,000 per year and the typical unbox-er earns no money at all.
So what can we expect in 2019?
Professional influencers will become more valuable in 2019 – especially influencers who influence others in the same industry.
Micro influencers, who work at a local state, or country level will be in more demand as brands move further into experiential marketing to give the customer a personalised experience around events and cross channel programs
There is a clear growth in micro-influencers and though influencer marketing appears as though it is here to stay, it will shift towards a more personalised niche influencer program
Co-founder and CEO at influencer marketing platform Traackr, Pierre-Loïc Assayag outlined his three predictions on influencer marketing in 2019
Brands will focus on alignment and brand fit over followers. Brands will will reassess the way they pay their influencers. No longer focusing on reach, brands will focus on the quality of engagement, identity and voice of the influencer, audience relevance and how the audience is interacting with the content relevance.
Brands will move away from transactional to relational influencer marketing. Influencer marketing used to be a buy – however this method often appeared inauthentic to their audience, resulting in a lower ROI than expected.
In 2019, brands will shift from transactional strategies to invest in cultivating organic relationships in-house with influencers and longer term partnerships with paid influencers.
Brand marketers will focus on creating an advanced approach for measuring success. Brand marketers in 2019 will quantify the impact influencer programs actually have on marketing objectives. This advanced approach will deliver deeper insights into how to optimize influencer investments for stronger alignment with business goals.
Whatever the next new technology happens to be, brands had better make sure they have a good influencers marketing plan - and focus on nano influencers as well as influencers with a large reach.