Evolution of Influencer Marketing

The Evolution of Influencer Marketing – Trends & Developments For 2017

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Influencer marketing is on the rise and has been for a few years now. Brands are increasingly seeing the value in using influencers to reach their specific audience, especially since traditional advertising has a harder time of breaking through. According to AdWeek 2016, the general population has an attention span of only 8 seconds. That’s less attentive than a goldfish!

Marketers need to find a way of cutting through the noise and capturing the attention of their targeted audience. This is where influencers come in.

If you are new to the idea of influencer marketing, you may still be thinking of nothing but celebrity endorsements, but the industry has moved well beyond those days. Influencers don’t have to be a celebrity. Actually, the most effective influencers are common people who have become opinion leaders through the content they publish online.

“You don’t need Kim Kardashian as an influencer, you just need the Kim Kardashian of your world.” -Logan Miller, Influencer Marketing Lead, gShiftTweet this. 

Below we examine how influencer marketing has changed, the laws which have be constructed as a result and some of the trends to consider moving forward.

History of Influencer Marketing

You’re probably asking yourself, where did influencer marketing come from? You may be surprised to know it has been around for a long time.

In the late 1800’s, products such as cigarettes and various household products began to use well-known celebrities in their print ads to try and influence the general public to use their product. This trend work so well, it took off and became increasingly popular well into the 1900s.

Marlboro manFast forward to the 1950’s where brands started to create faces for their company that could encompass the brand’s core values and position themselves in the general public’s mind the way the brand saw fit.

By the 1980’s, influencer marketing evolved into as we know it today. Celebrities started to endorse big brands by using their products in their daily lives, influencing their fans to use the same.

This took off well into the 90’s and 2000’s, until 2010 when the internet opened the door for smaller influencers, who weren’t necessarily celebrities, but took on the role of an thought leader in specific topics, due to their content on the internet.

The wave of social media and influencers has moved the balance of persuasion away from the brands. Did you know that 74% of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchase decision? (ODM Group). If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. At the root, we are all socially wired and social is a place where we converse with our friends and peers. It’s a place where we can drop our guard and have an opinion on any subject. Generally speaking, 84% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 33% of consumers trust sponsored ads (Nielsen).

Understanding Laws & Compliance


Do you ensure you influencers are following disclosed laws?Just like other contractors, your influencers are here to be an extension of your organization. Contracts help to establish a professional business relationship between you and the influencers you’re employing. They clear the air and clarify the expectations of both parties of what the scope of the project is. The last thing you want to deal with in a campaign is drama, especially when it comes to financial compensation.





“Signed contracts between brand and influencers are so important. It keeps both parties accountable to deliverables of the campaign.” -Logan Miller, Influencer Marketing Lead, gShift

To learn more about influencer contracts and laws around influencer marketing, read our blog.

Trends for 2017

Video – The use of video and live streaming have become increasingly popular and with platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Especially now with auto-play, it’s even easier for your audience to get sucked into your message. Brands are even using influencers to reach beyond the digital space and to engage with their audience at live events.

Micro Influencers – The trick is to find an influencer who engages your niche audience. The best influencers aren’t always the ones with the biggest following. More people may see your message, but may not necessarily engage. Whereas finding an influencer with a smaller, more dedicated audience can prove to be far more worth it. The reach may not be as impressive, however, you may find the engagement makes up for it in the end.

Experiential Marketing – In recent years there’s been an increased concern in heightening the customer experience. Influencers compliment this promotion tactic seamlessly, engaging your audience beyond the digital space.

The Future of Influencer Marketing

Are you planning on increasing your influencer marketing budget in 2017?It’s almost unbelievable, but according to a study done by Linqia, who surveyed 170 marketers, 86% of them used influencer marketing in 2016. Of those same marketers, 94% of them found influencer marketing effective and plan to double their budget in 2017.

There has also been a shift in how these influencers are being used. Gone are the days of long-form writing, such as blogs, and now there is a rise of more visual content. It’s not unusual to see an influencer campaign solely on Instagram, where the influencer is required to produce visual content instead of being responsible to write entire blog posts.

Just like in any other area in marketing, numbers talk, and analytics has become even more important in 2017. Vanity metrics, such as likes and shares, aren’t enough, brands need to see the real ROI of their campaigns to make informed decisions on which influencer is working this best on which platform. This data arms you to renegotiate and reallocate budget to the influencers who you’re audience is engaging with the most.

Tips For Success

When it comes to influencer marketing, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to get the most our of your campaign:

  • Let the influencer be who they are and try not to dictate how the message is given to their audience. Unfortunately, most companies try to control the message or dictate the voice the influencer uses to promote their product. Though a general outline is necessary, it’s critical to let the influencer be genuine with their audience.
  • Work alongside the influencer to create a more natural message that comes from their own tone of voice and not from you as the brand. Work with the influencer to try and work in a call to action, driving their audience to your website or a specific page. This has to be natural and depending on the situation, may not be possible.
  • Set up an initial approval process and make sure that the influencer’s style and messaging aligns with your companies core values. As a brand, you can’t dictate the message, however, having a clear outline that includes the facts and expectations are critical to the success of your influencer campaign.

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The Evolution of Influencer Marketing

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