The Influential Year Ahead

In November, Havas Group, along with several other parties, invested $10million in Octoly – an influencer marketing platform with more than one billion subscribers.

The platform connects a growing community of over 10,000 female social influencers with a curated selection of products from brands including Clarins, Dior, Sephora and Urban Decay.

In return, these bloggers and vloggers, each with a social following of more than 1,000 YouTube subscribers or 10,000 Instagram followers, are asked to publish honest and authentic reviews.

The year ahead will be an exciting time for influencer marketing. In 2016, almost half of all marketers in the U.S. boosted their influencer marketing budgets, many no doubt experimenting with a relatively new channel in a world still coming to terms with ad blocking and a decline in band trust.

Video is the key to authenticity.

Peer-to-peer recommendations offered a solution, and as we enter 2018 and proof of effectiveness has been established, brand interest in influencer marketing will continue to accelerate.

What’s fairly unique about the way companies like this work is that no money changes hands between influencer and brand. Instead, an expanding influencer community shares live experiences, networking, workshops and other opportunities to meet with like-minded cohorts, while creating content that’s not influenced by a brand fee.

A growing majority of youth influencers are now looking beyond monetary gain, towards more meaningful brand partnerships, which will help supply their follower base with continued content that’s the ‘right fit’ in order to keep audiences engaged.

That’s not to say that brands should expect the cost of recruiting social influencers to come down in the year ahead. Only that, of equal importance is how a partnership between a brand and an influencer, or influencer and their network, can offer mutual value and help improve their future careers.

Brands who realise this are offering influencer benefits such as free access to professional equipment or studio space and training in key content creation skills such as video making.

In the year ahead, people will grow tired of heavily filtered imagery portraying a seemingly perfect looking individual and look instead for content that’s real. Video is the key to authenticity.

Instagram in particular is developing its Stories functionality in order to be the social video platform of choice for ephemeral brand storytelling. The social network is expected to reach a milestone of one billion users in 2018. It’ll be interesting to see how Snapchat responds.

As influencer marketing increases in popularity, managed communities such as these companies, which vet its influencers, will also grow in importance.

Brands recruiting their own influencers, especially in niche sectors, need to be aware just how easy it is to buy followers or create the false impression of influence.

If a brand is unsure, it should request proof of user engagement before entering into any partnership deal. Superficial followers won’t engage with content, however attractive it may be.

Finally, with the year ahead promising more opportunities for influencers and the brands who partner with them, sharpened focus will inevitably fall on measurement.

An agreed understanding of KPIs and the ability to track ROI will need to evolve alongside the available software and technology.

Engagement metrics will share the spotlight with the social glitterati as brands seeks a deeper understanding of the persuasive power of content. 2018 will certainly be an influential year for marketing.

Marc Schader

Group Chief Executive, Global Growth at Havas Media Group

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