Influencer marketing has certainly evolved throughout the years, and 2018 will be no different. We have been keeping a finger on the pulse of the industry, and below are the top trends we believe marketers will see when working with influencers in 2018.

Leveraging a plan for owned, earned and paid media will be even more important.

We have all read the articles speculating that Facebook and Instagram could be making changes to their algorithm and restricting organic viewability to influencer content tagged with their “paid” tool—but who knows what will actually happen. That being said, as a smart marketer, we have seen Facebook and Instagram make changes in the past, so it’s just good practice to start planning for paid support in all influencer content on social channels. Not only does this combat against any potential changes, but it also helps get your messaging in front of additional folks who wouldn’t see the content organically, increase engagement potential and give you the ability to target a very specific audience on these platforms.

In addition, brands are starting to understand the value of influencer content beyond just being posted on the influencer’s channels. By repurposing Influencer content via the brand’s owned avenues, we are seeing increased reach, awareness and engagement opportunities with potential customers. This also helps build the relationship between the influencer and the brand and makes the campaign seem more holistic and less of a one-off.

Long-term, substantial relationships between influencers and the brands they work with are no longer a “nice to have” but are a “must have.”

Consumers today are extremely socially savvy. They notice more and more when influencers are inauthentic or are just participating in a campaign to get paid, and are quick to call out a brand or Influencer for this.  Brands are attempting to combat this by opting into long-term partnerships with influencers. These partnerships vary depending on the brand’s goals, but could be very immersive and include things like factory or office tours, first access to new product launches, representing the brand at conference or industry events, or serving as talent in brand TV or digital commercials. When brands and Influencers have a strong, long-term partnerships, the content the influencer creates is even more authentic, as their readers know the influencer truly believes in the brand and what it stands for.

ROI is an even bigger focus.

Influencer marketing is inherently a brand awareness and affinity marketing play, but many marketers are wondering how they can get their influencer content to do more for them as it relates to e-commerce and sales. You will see more campaigns that have specific calls-to-action to purchase, or test-and-learn programs with social media platforms that allow users to easily buy products shown in influencer content. You’re already seeing this in shoppable retail posts via platforms like Instagram, but we foresee more and more of this within influencer content in 2018.  Marketers will also put more of an emphasis on tracking this type of content and determine campaign successes through KPIs, such as foot traffic, e-commerce sales, and subscriptions.

Crystal Duncan is a senior account supervisor, Influencer Marketing, Chicago.