However, will influencer marketing stand the test of time, especially as leading platforms like Instagram make changes to insert themselves more firmly between advertisers and content creators?
If history is anything to go by, influencer marketing may not die soon but is definitely going to change drastically moving forward.
Facebook was a big deal in the early years, making celebrities out of regular people who were able to garner hundreds of thousands of views for free. Today, Facebook is saturated and organic reach is all but dead.
This is a cycle all social networks follow. When they need more content, they give content creators exposure, but when the balance shifts in their favor and content creators need them, organic visibility is culled in favor of paid promotions and advertising.
Instagram has been responsible for the majority of influencer marketing earnings, but now the platform is introducing changes like hiding Likes and promoting their collabs manager to become the middleman between influencers and brands.
By focusing on paid exposure and sponsored visibility, Instagram likely wants to make money, as do all companies, but this means existing, and new influencers, in particular, are going to have to adapt.
Scale across various platforms
You may have kickstarted with Instagram or TikTok, but you don’t necessarily have to stay there. Once you have a loyal community, you can use your influence to make your following independent of any single platform. Granted the results won’t be the same, since not all your followers may use other platforms, but it is better to diversify.
There are success stories involving subscription platforms like Patreon and fan sites, where influencers can charge small fees for access to exclusive content. If your community is loyal, a subscription site is worth a shot.
Trust comes before monetization
Influencers today are notorious for promoting products without testing or even reading their labels and this is a disservice to their followers, to say the least. As this space grows, we can expect to see more trustworthy influencers doing better, while those who put monetization before building trust are going to lose their influence.
Ultimately, an influencer owes his or her followers some level of truth (if not the entire truth) and has to work towards building trust before monetization. In fact, the community appreciates when an influencer is honest about sponsored posts and presents an unbiased picture of the products being promoted.
Power of relatability
Unless you’re one of the Kardashians or a top-tier football star, you can’t really buy your way into web celebrity status. In fact, influencers who’ve tried to gain followers by showing a luxury lifestyle have paid dearly for the mistake. It may work in the short term, but is not a sustainable approach and limits your growth to how much money you can spend ‘keeping up with the Kardashians’.
On the other hand, influencers who prioritize good content and remain relatable to their audiences grow stronger, more loyal communities without needing to spend lavishly.
Moving forward, we can expect relatable influencers to grow bigger, as market saturation tests audience loyalty.
Moving forward, influencers who don’t take their content or audience seriously will see their viewership and influence diminish. In this sea of social media influencers, the only way to survive is to develop and consciously expand your brand, making it relatable, transparent and value-driven.