Influencer marketing changes, challenges and unseen factors

Some personal thoughts from our Managing Director on how the influencer marketing landscape will change in the next 12 months and what those changes will mean for all of us.

January is typically the time for planning, forecasting and predicting and, whilst things are no different at Influence Network, regular readers will hopefully know that we try to avoid the predictable… which makes sharing predictions difficult!

Certainly we try to avoid the mundane and so, in putting this post together, I’ve tried to look at what’s coming in 2023 that the influencer marketing sector as a whole hasn’t yet really spotted.

We all know that the marketplace is growing and that influencer marketing in 2023 will be bigger than ever – for example, more platforms acquiring each other has been long-predicted, as has the move to micro-influencers, so I’ve avoided all of that and instead looked for things that we think we can see coming, but are perhaps more below the horizon at the moment. Let’s start with one we’ve written more about elsewhere…

Influencer campaigns will become more complex in 2023 (e.g; full funnel campaigns)

The influencer marketing sector has reached a point of maturity where the systems, processes and knowledge exist on a wide-enough basis to make more complex campaigns less out of the ordinary. Full funnel campaigns, which deploy multiple influencers, sometimes across platforms, to hit different parts of the funnel at the same time, are one example of this complexity (we’ve written more about full funnel campaigns here).

This shift will happen because agencies and brands are looking at success and ROI metrics and seeing that influencer marketing consistently delivers. With that knowledge it makes less and less sense to run simple, low cost influencer campaigns, whilst more time and budget are pushed towards display or out of home or email or any other traditional channel. More and more of the budget previously dedicated to those channels will move to influencer marketing and, as a result, the demand for complicated cross-channel, cross-funnel campaigns will increase (as will, as a result of this, marketing success for those involved).

Process, technology and, ultimately, influencer marketing agencies or agency arms will rationalise

Imagine the knock-on effects of the above point. More brands are going to demand more complicated campaigns. If you are an agency, imagine if one of your clients said the following:

‘We need to quadruple our influencer spend and each influencer campaign must touch multiple audiences, hitting both brand and purchase behaviour metrics.’

This is exactly what will happen based on prediction number one and this increased demand for complexity will have knock on implications.

Agencies will need to rationalise their process, technology and people to deliver campaigns on this basis.

Choosing not to do so is essentially choosing to rationalise themselves out of the future of influencer marketing; this could be a proactive and very positive choice for some, as they focus on markets that work better for them.

Influencer compensation and agreements will change and, yes… become more complicated

Spot the trend of added complication in my predictions!

If we accept that influencer marketing is more mainstream than ever and that the marketplace has matured over the last five years plus, then it also stands to reason that influencers can see all of this and are adapting accordingly.

Good influencers know they are in demand and generate results agencies and brands care about. Particularly for those already in the marketplace this will change how they think about pricing their services and what they agree to when they engage.

I’m not sure this is a ‘power shift’ or a ‘sea change’, as I’ve seen it referred to over the years. Rather, it’s a natural reaction to market growth and maturity. Both are happening and therefore will happen on the influencer side of things as well. Agencies and brands will see this played out through sharper pricing from influencers, more commercial awareness related to the impact of their work and more input from influencers to their contractual agreements.

Longer term influencer agreements will help to balance some of the complexity

This is a slight cheat, because this trend certainly has been predicted elsewhere (we wrote about it ourselves here), so I’m not really going out on a limb.

What is perhaps different to how others have framed this is in its link to the above points.

More complex campaigns are needed, agencies need to rationalise their processes and influencers are likely to have increasingly complex agreements.

All of those factors will drive longer term influencer agreements to become even more common. We’re already seeing this as a trend, but it will develop from ‘trend’ into ‘preferred way of working’ over the next 12-24 months.

Having an influencer already wrapped up in an agreement, ready to deliver content that helps at whatever funnel point you’re aiming for, is too much of a positive to turn down, for all involved. As budgets increase, brands will feel more comfortable about entering these agreements and reaping the benefits, whilst influencers get certainty of income for their future.

In short: influencer marketing grows up again in 2023

Broadly speaking all of my predictions for 2023 are wrapped in the maturation of the market.

Where once you could run an influencer marketing campaign by emailing two people and tracking the results on a spreadsheet, we’re now a little beyond that.

This maturation brings with it the complexity of any marketplace that has been around for a certain amount of time and grown to a certain scale.

In 2023 we will see more of the impact of that maturation, time spent growing and new scale. I can’t wait!

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