Influencer marketing hasn’t existed forever, and as a business model, it’s still in its infancy. When an increase of content creators, which back then were just ‘normal people’ began sharing their interests on blogging sites and through YouTube videos, influencing as a career was not well established.
Just over a decade ago, a YouTuber could sit in front of a camera for ten minutes after their full-time job, spend an hour cutting the video together on iMovie, post it to YouTube then share it on Twitter, and with any luck, perhaps earn some pocket money through AdSense. There was no need for a personal manager, video editor, brand partnerships coordinator – the list goes on. Cut to now, and I am sure you don’t go a day without a new influencer marketing role popping up on your LinkedIn feed as the industry grows exponentially.
The growth of influencer marketing
In an article released at the beginning of this year, Forbes predicted that eventually, influencers will take over the entire marketing funnel, and personally, I don’t think this would be surprising. Especially since the pandemic, digital communication, e-commerce, and adaptation, in general, have become essential to our daily lives. In turn, this means that influencer marketing was an industry that was able to expand while others have declined over the past two years. In the last three years alone we’ve seen a 26% growth in influencer-focused companies across influencer agencies, software, or tools and it continues to grow.
Charlotte Williams, Founder of SevenSix Agency, has noticed a significant change, she says, “The evolution of influencer marketing over the last decade has been incredible to watch. This booming sub-sector in the advertising industry has rapidly moved from being a ‘nice to have’ campaign extra to now being very much the centre of the marketing mix.”
Jenny Quigley-Jones, CEO and Founder of Digital Voices, is also astounded by this growth, saying, “Influencer marketing specialists have become essential hires for brand marketing teams. Brands normally allocate this role to one person initially, and rely on them to take on all the pressures of making influencers a success.”
Now, not only are there a vast amount of businesses focusing solely on influencer marketing – agencies, talent management, tech platforms – but all of the major brands we’ve been familiar with throughout our lives have teams of professionals working to expand and solidify their influencer marketing offerings.
Not just a one-man band
Through the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge increase in professional creators, and with that, we have seen an influx of new talent agencies, managers, and personal assistants who specifically work with creators. Charlotte believes that It’s an exciting time to join the industry and we’re now seeing traditional agencies change their approach and titles such as Ogilvy’s ‘Influence Manager’ titles instead of ‘influencer marketing managers’ or ‘account managers’.
Jenny raises an extremely important point, reiterating that due to its growth, the influencer space is now more complex than ever, and it takes more than a lone ranger to run the entire function.
As brands make social media and influencer marketing their key marketing channels (that should spend 60% of marketing budget), Jenny believes that we will see the growth of:
- Influencer Customer Relations Management (CRM) Specialists – One of the core challenges of influencer marketing is scaling campaigns to reach a vast global customer base, whilst maintaining a focus on quality. There are so many platforms and inefficiencies i.e. with legal onboarding and global payment – that brands end up stumped. We will see a growth in key influencer marketing experts who know which CRMs help scale your marketing efforts and focus on the process, data, measurement, and tech piece.
- Influencer Marketing Creatives – There is a gap for creative campaign strategists who deeply understand influencer marketing and social media trends. Many traditional advertising creatives struggle to translate to influencer marketing, as they are too focused on their high-production value content and want to bring their perfect vision to life. Instead, we’re going to see the rise of creatives (within agencies) that specialise in partnering with influencers and focus on quick-turnaround trending social media content.
Real people supporting real people
It’s great to see that being an influencer is now more than just a hobby or a side hustle for so many, and has solidified itself as professionalism in the marketing industry as a whole, alongside channels like affiliate and performance marketing. There is far more understanding now about how to measure ROI, affiliate earnings, and other areas beyond vanity metrics. However, despite this, it’s important to remember that this is a people-focussed industry, and real people do it best when it comes to supporting real people.
Charlotte believes that it is the subtle changes we’re seeing that signal how industry giants are viewing the space and how they are trying to find a deeper purpose for creators in the industry, focusing on not only ROI but growth.
She says, “Businesses like my own that are trying to tackle the lack of diversity in the industry and provide a safe space for often overlooked creators, and financial services like XPO are ensuring creators are paid on time.”
We’re also seeing bigger agencies like MSL pairing with smaller agencies like SevenSix to tackle the diversity issues in the influencer space, putting their resources to use in order to enable faster and more productive change. Charlotte adds, “This newfound interest in creator rights, equality, and mental health protection is taking us into our new phase of influencer marketing, one that has durability and real integrity and it’s truly exciting.”
It’s impossible to predict how many new influencer marketing roles will be on our roster in years to come, but what we do know is that with people and creativity at the forefront, it is possible to develop unique roles that are pushing the growth of the industry, and the growth of the individuals in it,
If you’re interested in providing insight for our next deep-dive feature, be sure to check out the topics for the rest of the quarter, and explore our editorial calendar to discover this year’s editorial themes and opportunities.