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12 February 2018

How Might Influencer Marketing Change in 2018?

Written by: Blaine Doherty, Influencer Strategist at Edelman

Digital Trends

The meteoric rise of influencer marketing continued in 2017. We saw the FTC and ASA clamp down on #AD, moves towards standardisation by Facebook, and audiences questioning the opinions of sponsor-of-the-week influencers.

Influencer marketing shows no signs of slowing down. So what trends might we expect in 2018?

Will the Standardisation of Disclosure Spread?

Facebook has been working to keep users aware of sponsored influencer content. Their Tag Business Partner feature helps influencers and brands clearly disclose partnerships, which it encourages them to use by providing key insights and analytics on posts. The move has been well received by influencer marketers and brands, and is a great way to help encourage best practice. But with the success of this, will we see other platforms release similar disclosure methods? Will YouTube or Twitter follow suit and give brands access to specific metrics in return for disclosure? I think it makes complete sense for them to follow suit, and I’m sure those at the FTC and ASA would rejoice at them doing so in 2018.

Limitation of Organic Reach

While Facebook’s Tag Business Partner is a positive move towards encouraging disclosure, many believe the feature has a more self-serving purpose for the platform. By having the tag partner feature, Facebook will know of the brand partnerships influencers have. With this knowledge they can encourage brands to put paid spend behind posts, and they could even begin to limit the organic reach of influencer and media outlet posts on Facebook. For now this is just speculation; but given how Facebook strangled organic reach with the launch of brand pages a few years ago, it’s true to form.

If this is the case, this will be a key consideration for marketers in 2018, as it will have an impact on many aspects of influencer marketing. Firstly, we will need to further factor paid spend into influencer marketing budgets to ensure we are reaching the full extent of an influencer’s audience. Secondly, we will need to develop a deeper understanding of how to maximise the exposure of influencer content by working with platform algorithms. Some influencers have been doing this by using comment pods on Instagram, and as long as all comment pod members share the same area of interest as the brand, this method could potentially help brands increase views and engagement with their influencer content by enabling them to appear in the discover section of Instagram, as an example.

Battle of the Micro-Influencer Marketing Platforms

With over 230 new influencer agencies and platforms being set up in the past 2 years, many platforms have primed themselves to help brands easily engage with large amounts of influencers, contract them and then co-create content all in a matter of clicks. Agencies like Buzzoole, Indahash and TRIBE are standardising these processes for brands to help make micro-influencer marketing more accessible. However, with so many agencies offering increasingly standardised services, could we witness a collapse of the micro influencer industry in 2018? Which platform is likely to be the one that rules them all and binds them? 2018 will the year when we start to see signs of which platform will come out on top.

Will E-commerce Break the ROI Conundrum?

Before you drop your head in despair, there are a few ways in which we can show ROI, such as; Instagram’s comment to buy and tap to buy features, tracking pixels, discount codes and trackable links. All of these developments have helped make social media a more effective medium to purchase products on and have helped brands like Daniel Wellington showcase influencer ROI effectively. Meanwhile Amazon is developing its influencer affiliate program to drive sales on YouTube, helping track which influencers are driving which purchases.

When it comes to e-commerce, platforms like WeChat are showing the way. Users on WeChat can purchase virtually any product featured in content inside the app, and influence friends with their purchasing habits. WeChat has created an environment where purchasing products is possible in a few clicks, and where it is possible to track where purchases are being made, and who by.

With interesting features like this, I feel that 2018 could see more social media platforms develop their e-commerce capabilities to improve influencer ROI tracking.

The Rise of Ephemeral Content

The power of ephemeral content, the type of time-limited content featured on Instagram Stories and SnapChat, has helped SnapChat maintain its popularity with the Gen Z demographic, with 72% of young Americans aged 12 – 24 having SnapChat on their phones compared to only 66% having Instagram, and has helped Facebook to increase its Instagram user base to 500 million per day. This is due to a real Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) if users don’t view content posted by friends/influencers within the allotted 24 hours. Understandably, if there is a timeframe on which to view the content your favourite influencer is posting, you are more likely to tune into that content. The raw nature of ephemeral content also means that it appears less scripted to viewers, who place a premium on this due to a perceived increase in authenticity. While many brands have been reluctant to create ephemeral content for campaigns due to it only lasting 24 hours, I believe we will definitely see an uptake in brands developing ephemeral strategies to increase their appeal to the younger market in 2018.

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