Has the influencer bubble really burst? Asks Model Village’s William Soulier

Despite influencer marketing quietly establishing itself as a valuable, integral and essential part in any modern brand’s digital playbook, vociferous headlines and editorial pieces forecasting its demise have become recent staples in the trade press. However, this isn’t the result of a single defining moment or piece of legislation, but the regular emergence and a convergence of factors which undermine the very rationale for influencer campaigns.

Healthy budgets
We do not believe the influencer bubble is in any danger of bursting; in fact, influencer budgets on Instagram alone are predicted to double to $2bn in 2019. Therefore, now more than ever, observing best practice with regards to complete and utter transparency and authenticity has become vital if brands are to operate successfully in this space.

Key factors
Below, are a few factors marketers should consider when planning influencer campaigns for 2019.

The most obvious is the sheer number of ‘aspiring’ influencers that is evident today. This growth can especially be seen on Instagram, which has witnessed a surge in sponsored influencer posts featuring #ad, #sponsored, or #spon tags with a 400% yearly increase. This consistent growth of collaborative opportunity, requires brands to connect with real influencers who have authentic talent and post meaningful content which will stand out against this growing media wave.

More engagement
Consequently, the rise of influencer activity has resulted in a more circumspect and savvy consumer who is increasingly acute at separating unauthentic content. It would appear that not only have consumers grown to accept this trend, but engagement figures suggest that influencers who are honest about their paid partnerships are deemed more respected and persuasive by consumers, whilst those who hide #Ad under a million hashtags are the least.

Fake followers
Fake followers and fake campaigns is another poisonous and noticeable factor and destroys trust in the entire principle of influencer marketing from both brands and consumers alike. Perhaps the most notable example of this was the Fyre Festival in 2017, which was promoted by celebrities including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and other notable names. During the festival's inaugural weekend, the event experienced problems which related to security, food, accommodation and artist relations and was quickly cancelled by authorities, leaving all but the organisers out of pocket and disappointed.

Whilst there’s an argument that once an individual reaches a certain level of followers it’s celebrity endorsement rather than an Influencer campaign, so brands must still ensure they only work with platforms and influencers who have zero tolerance for promoting such practices and are always alert for the latest deception tactics.

Changing campaigns
Whilst we don’t believe these trends will burst the influencer bubble, we believe they will call time on a particular type of campaign: where an influencer is defined solely by their reach which is then effectively rented out by marketers.

Therefore in order for brands to launch a successful influencer marketing campaign, they must connect with the right influencers and vigilant platforms who understand these industry trends and consequently create engaging content that truly resonates with both the brand and their followers.

Written by William Soulier, CEO of influencer marketplace Model Village