If you haven't heard, Instagram just announced they have hit the astonishing milestone of housing 600 million users. Combine that with their recent launch of Live video, and it's clear that the wildly successful "As Seen On TV" infomercial trend is taking on a new form, and it's called Influencer Marketing.
In a recent survey, 84% of marketers said they plan on launching at least one influencer campaign within the next 12 months.
In addition, 47% of online consumers use ad blockers--making the simple tactic of "just running ads" a lot less feasible.
So, how are brands and business adjusting? By getting the beloved personalities and thought leaders of today's social platforms to tell their fans and followers what and when to buy.
According to eConsultancy, almost 60% of fashion and beauty brands have an influencer marketing strategy in place, while a further 21% plan to invest in it over the next year.
When you pull back and take a look at all these different stats--how people make purchasing decisions, the rise of video and mobile advertising, the rise of social media, the increase in the use of ad blockers, etc.--it starts to paint a very clear picture that today's influencers are some of the most valuable, and also viable media channels out there.
If you do a bit of digging and exploring on your own, you will discover all sorts of different types of businesses and brands that have been built entirely off influencer marketing.
One of the most unique stories I have come across in terms of influencer marketing--a digital strategy component I am personally interested in--is how a pop-culture-focused fashion company called Pretty Little Thing built a global clothing brand solely around the trends of what influencers and celebrities are wearing.
In fact, while they do work with celebrities and influencers in the conventional sense, they essentially have taken the influencer marketing model and flipped it--which I think we will begin to see more and more companies adopt. Instead of going to an influencer and asking them to make a certain piece of clothing popular, they watch what these influencers and celebrities are already wearing and then create matching, cost-effective products.
In short: Kylie Jenner wears a choker accessory, and Pretty Little Thing will create an identical looking product and sell it on social--promoting the fact that since Kylie Jenner already wore it, you can too.
And it must be working, because the social fashion brand has over 1.2M followers on Instagram and is shipping out over 20,000 orders worldwide each day.
If that's not enough to make your head spin, here's one final stat that will really drive home the value of influencer marketing:
According to a Google study, 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTubers more than to traditional celebrities--and you can bet that's not just happening on YouTube.
The truth is, when a social media personality you follow day in and day out wears something, drinks something, shows you something, you pay attention to it. And the key word here is attention. The advertising landscape is quickly changing, and the ones who fail to adapt are going to get left in the dust big time.
Consumers don't want ads. They can't stand ads. They skip them, they ignore them, they let them run in the background while they stare at their phones.
Instead, brands are going to need to adopt strategies that incorporate their products, services, and offerings into the content that is already being consumed. It's not about taking away from where a consumer's attention is placed. It's about integrating organically to be part of it.
If your company isn't utilizing influencer marketing yet, you are missing out. It's only going to become more popular, more profitable, and truthfully, more competitive. Handing a popular celebrity your shaker cup and asking them to tell their friends to buy it isn't enough.
You're going to have to get more creative if you want to keep the attention of your consumers.