Why 2017 is the Year of Influencer Marketing
You may have been hearing a lot more about influencer marketing recently. It's a trend that's been growing exponentially over the past couple years, and there is good reason to believe that 2017 is the year where influencer marketing soars.
The Google Trends graph for "Influencer Marketing" illustrates the rapid growth of influencer marketing.1
Google classified "Influencer Marketing" as a "breakout," meaning that the search term has grown more than 5000%.2
The Rise of AdBlocking Software
There's been growing concern over the increase in the use of ad blocking and ad avoidance. Ad blockers have been around for years, but it has recently been experiencing massive growth. To rid their feeds of thousands of unwanted ads, approximately 200 million people around the world employ ad blockers.3 In fact, the New York Times reports that when surfing the web, roughly 11% of internet users globally relied on ad blockers to avoid some form of digital advertising last year.4 This means ad blockers were used on more than 600 million devices, ranging from smartphones to traditional computers, which represents a 30% annual increase, and these numbers are expected to continue to climb. As a result of ad blocking, publishers lost an estimated $22 billion in 2015.5
Authenticity and Declined Trust in Traditional Media
Trust in traditional media has been declining, with many people demanding more authenticity from brands. Research shows that 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals, even if they don't know them, over brands (Nielsen). The rise of social media has fundamentally changed traditional marketing strategies because it enables peer recommendations to play a larger influential role in purchasing decisions.
Consumers are increasingly looking to their peers or influencers to inform their purchasing decisions. According to a recent study by McKinsey, word-of-mouth recommendations are what makes up a consumer's mind, and it is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions.6 It generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate.7 Given the value of word-of-mouth marketing and the rise of social media, influencer marketing has become a valuable way for marketers to leverage word-of-mouth at scale.
The Rise of Micro and Middle-Influencers
Brands have previously focused on working with celebrities, but they have become less effective because there has been a disconnect between the celebrities and their fan base. Most consumers don't expect celebrities to be completely authentic with their product promotions. Micro-influencers (fewer than 10,000 followers) and middle-influencer (10,000-250,000 followers) have gained followers because of their authenticity.
Thus, some brands are seeing more success and higher engagement in collaborating with micro and middle-influencers.8 Micro and middle-influencers have built up high engagement and a dedicated following in a niche area because their followers feel tey can relate to them, and more importantly, trust them. Their knowledge, expertise, and credibility on certain topics, such as food, lifestyle, and beauty, and their rich connections with their followers create authentic relationships, which leads to stronger engagement rates. Brands can strategically partner with the right influencer that matches the brand's product target market to share their message.
For example, a recent study by Google found that millennials view Youtube stars as more influential than celebrities, where 6 in 10 Youtube subscribers say that they would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite creator over their favorite TV or movie personality and 70% of teenage Youtube subscribers say that they relate to Youtube creators more than traditional celebrities.9 This may be attributed to the fact that Youtube stars interact with their fan base more than celebrities do, which results in relationships that are more like friendships than fanships.10