Influencer marketing has proven to be one of the most effective forms of connecting with a community. In 2019, this strategy will still use many of the techniques and approaches that were popular in 2018. But there are key trends that brands should be aware of if they want to expand success in their influencer marketing strategy in 2019. Here are the most important trends we’re expecting to see in 2019.

Trend #1. Instagram Will Remain a Key Influencer Marketing Channel

Instagram is experiencing massive growth each year. In 2018, the network reached one billion monthly active users and is expected to continue to grow, according to TechCrunch. Also, the platform will continue to be the leading one for brand-influencer collaborations. In 2019, more brands will be able to show returns from Instagram, if they’re making the best use of the platform. In fact, brands like Morphe Brushes are already seeing awesome returns from their 7.5 million Instagram followers. The main reason why Instagram has high-performance potential lies in its highly engaged community filled with rich visual content. In 2019, brands that are able to utilize this content to amplify their voice stand to succeed.

Trend #2: Influencer Relationships with Brands will be Strategic and Less Transactional

As brands seek influencer content that is consistently on-brand, relationships with trusted influencers will move from transactional, one-off interactions, towards strategic partnerships. Influencers have gained credibility with their audiences, and as their audiences grow and mature, smart brands will rely on these influencers for strategic insights into maintaining a community of loyal fans.

Revolve, a luxury fashion Ecommerce brand has paved a path for strategic influencer interactions, with events such as the Revolve awards, which encourages their community to vote for their favorite influencers. By letting the community drive decisions, Revolve is able to strategically involve the right influencers for their audience.

Trend#3: UGC Will be King Across all Marketing Channels

UGC performs exceptionally well on social media, but smart brands are starting to use influencer content across all their marketing channels. Brands have started to use a different approach by mixing influencer content across email, product-display pages, and advertising campaigns. This tactic helps maintain an authentic and consistent brand appearance across all channels, so the audience is receiving a familiar but tailored experience for the channel their using.

Trend #4: The Number of Influencers Will Continue to Increase

Social networks are growing, and the generations that were born using them are reaching purchasing maturity. What does this mean for brands? It means that there are simply more people on social media who are creating unique branded content, and a higher percentage of those people make their own purchasing decisions. This shift isn’t something to shy away from.

With the amplification afforded by social media, everyone can be an influencer of varying degree. This also means there will be more noise to sift through. As hashtags become a hyper-populated area of engagement, smart brands will start to seek out content in mentions and location tags to discover the highest-quality, on-brand engagements.

Trend #5: The Demand for Authentic Content will Increase

Traditional advertisements and stock photos aren’t #winning anymore with audiences. Thus, the demand for authenticity and transparency will continue to rise in 2019. Social media influencers will continue to bring an authentic flavor for brands who are looking to captivate their audiences in new and unhindered ways. People connect with influencers because they want honest and transparent insight into products. Successful marketing campaigns will be focused on in meeting the need for authenticity in 2019. Transparency goes a long way. For brands, sponsored content should be clearly disclosed when an influencer is being compensated for their work. HYLETE, a high-performance apparel brand, engages with authentic influencers to build community engagement and share the most on-brand content.

Trend #6: Reaching Target Audiences Will Become Tougher because of Increasing Competition

With more new influencers joining the party in 2019, more brands are seeing the value of engaging with influencers to reach their target audience. Marketers and influencers will have to use community-driven marketing strategies to tell authentic brand stories and adequately engage their customers well.

Some marketers are considering upping their influencer marketing budgets for 2019 to gain favor with coveted, popular influencers. But what many brands are starting to realize is that the true value lies in harnessing the mind-share of existing happy customers who are highly engaged on social media.

Trend #7: Brands Can Now Choose between Micro-Influencers and Mega Influencers

According to Forbes, when businesses target influencers for advertising purposes, they typically aim for people with 100,000 followers or more. But what these mega-influencers are only part of the user-generated content (UGC) picture.

Social media is a natural extension of word of mouth marketing. Instead of these conversations happening in private settings, social media is bringing them to the spotlight in which a one-to-one interaction can now easily be a one-to-many recommendation. Basically, these nanoinfluencers are not new, and it’s not a new concept: it’s just word of mouth on steroids. Successful brands will harness the treasure trove of customer content available on social media in 2019.

Trend #8: Brands will need to Prove Monetary Success from Influencer Marketing

With increased spend comes increased expectation to show returns. Brands will need to use hard ROI metrics when justifying influencer marketing programs. While tracking the ROI of these programs can be tough without the right tools in place, here are some of the top metrics marketers are focusing on in 2019:

  1. Conversion rate from UGC images compared to their own photography.
  2. Cost per conversion from UGC images.
  3. Average order value from UGC conversions.
  4. Customer lifetime value from UGC conversions.

Final Thoughts

Influencer marketing has been successful because it lends itself to a whole new realm of human-to-human connection and brand creativity, bolstered by an endless network of individuals who each resemble their own media company.

Simply put, 2019 will be another year in a slew that indicates a growing customer trend: winning over an audience needs to come from an authentic hunger for pleasing your customers, not from pushing money into products that aren’t well received by the market.