With social media becoming ubiquitous, today’s generation follows social media stars as closely as movie stars and sports celebrities. As a result, businesses of all sizes increasingly engaged social influencers as part of their marketing strategy to connect with the social and mobile first consumers in 2015.

Several major studies were carried out during the year to understand the efficacy of this channel. McKinsey’s study revealed that marketing inspired word-of-mouth generated more than 2X the sales of paid advertisement and had 35% higher retention rate. Another study found that average earned media value from Influencer programs was at $9.6 per $1 spent, up from $6.85 in 2014.
So, how will Influencer marketing shape up from here? While 2016 will be the year of maturation for Social Influencer Marketing, below are the five viewpoints that will be useful for marketers to decipher Influencer Marketing from being a pure play branding exercise to driving sustained and meaningful influencer relationship.

Self-Serve Platforms Will Drive Influencer Discovery

The biggest difficulty marketers faced in integrating influencer marketing was the ability to discover and connect with the right set of influencers. Will emergence of self-server platforms like Blogmint, this barrier is broken and the power of influence is within the reach of businesses of all sizes.

Influencer Programs Will Become Costlier

Marketers will be selective in engaging influencers, focusing on those who’re credible and loyal. To fall in this bracket, influencers will have to strike a balance between organic and sponsored posts in order to sustain the trust of their followers avoid being perceived as spammers. As a consequence, they will limit the number of brand collaborations and instead increase their costs to maintain their earnings.

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Engagement Will Be The Key Metric

Brands will be willing to shell out more money in Influencer programs only if they are able to extract real value out of it – engagement as opposed to reach. Key metrics they will look into will include number of users engaged (RT, Shares), customer acquisition (website visits, lead conversion, churn reduction, amongst others) and earned media.

Instagramers & YouTubers Will Be The Rising Social Stars

Twitteratis ruled influencer programs in 2015. However, Instagramers and YouTubers will be most sought after in 2016 as real-time visual content drives maximum engagement. New social media platforms like Periscope, #fame and Snapchat will see increased adoption as they encourage real-time sharing of user-generated content.

Product Experience Will Be At The Core

Experiencing the product and sharing personal stories around this would drive influencer marketing in 2016. Businesses will give additional creative freedom to influencers so that they can create personalized content that for their followers instead of bland product / service reviews.

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.

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