Not long ago, influencer marketing was a trend. Every year-end report marketers could get their hands on invariably had a chapter on “The Rise of Influencers” or “Why Influencers Are Here to Stay.” This made sense in the past because this marketing tactic – powered by social media – began in the mid-2000s and for quite some time was considered an emergent marketing tactic that lived under content creation, community management or paid media.

Today, influencer marketing is a critical part of the marketing mix. In fact, according to Business Insider Intelligence, it’s expected to grow to a $15 billion industry by 2022, up from $8 billion in 2019.

Edelman’s 10 Trends Influencing 2020 report offers an in-depth look at the 10 important influencer developments we believe will impact business, society and government in the coming year. This report is designed to serve as a guide to the challenges, experiences and opportunities your organization, employees, customers and stakeholders will face in 2020 and beyond. Here is a breakdown of three of the 10 trends we explore:

Listen Up: The Rise of the Audio Influencer

  • Podcasts offer a new medium for creativity in a landscape where influencers and sponsored posts are everywhere you look on social media.
  • 32 percent of Americans reported having listened to a podcast within the past month.
  • The worldwide podcast market is growing rapidly, and this is expected to continue as tools to facilitate the creation, publishing and management of podcasts become mainstream.

Going Steady: From Influencer to Ambassador

  • As brands seek influencer content that is authentic, relationships with influencer partners are moving from transactional to long-term.
  • As their audiences grow, brands are relying on influencers for insights into engaging and maintaining loyal fans. With long-term (or always on) influencer partnerships, audiences are more likely to trust an influencer’s recommendation and to act when key messages are reinforced over time.
  • Long-term collaborations allow influencers to have more time and flexibility to develop creative ideas that the brand and their audience will love.

In Authenticity We Trust: Get Real or Get Lost

  • Millennials and Gen Z are becoming more wary and distrustful of artificial or inauthentic influencer content, creating a new challenge for influencers and brands.
  • 72 percent of consumers said they would unfollow an influencer over disingenuous endorsements.
  • A shift from a depiction of the idealized toward more relatable and real is underway and becoming the new cultural norm.
  • Influencers and brands will prioritize authentic partnerships and collaborations to meet the increasing demand led by Gen Z and millennials seeking real and relatable experiences.

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Ann Newland is Head of Strategic Operations of Edelman’s Influencer team.