Winter 2019 - Inside Outdoor Magazine

Inside Outdoor | WINTER 2019 24 I nfluencer marketing has ex- ploded across social media in recent years and is highly likely to remain a major advertising trend throughout 2019. Accord- ing to social media software com- pany CreatorIQ, the number of mar- keting campaigns using influencers doubled last year, while influencer search engine InfluencerDB predicts the market will exceed $8 billion in 2020, based on the current value of sponsored posts. An increasing number of brands even are beginning to work with micro- influencers, or influencers with smaller audiences (50,000 followers or less) who cater to niche markets, say execu- tives at InfluencerDB. “In the influencer category, it is micro-influencers that have seen the most sustained growth in brand partnerships,” said Influ- encerDB is a recent report. Despite the meteoric rise of influ- encer marketing, though, the land- scape is in flux as the practice is being increasingly scrutinized by government agencies, watchdog groups, brands and social media companies. It’s pos- sible that the influencer arena could become overly regulated as the market matures, causing the practice to lose its appeal, and its effectiveness. If this happens, the influencer marketing bubble could burst. The tide started shifting back in 2017, when the Federal Trade Com- mission (FTC) started notifying both celebrity and non-celebrity influ- encers about the need to disclose brand relationships when promoting products on social media. The FTC made it clear at the time that if there is a material connection with an ad- vertiser and an endorser, disclosure must be given or made clear in an advertisement. This is to the benefit of consumers, of course, but it has proven to be bad for business for influencers. According to CampaignDeus, posts involving a marketing campaign cause an influenc- er’s engagement to drop by 11 percent on average, compared with organic content. For this reason, many influ- encers are still choosing to circumvent disclosure, putting themselves and the brands they represent at risk. The War on Fake Accounts Another issue was brought to light in 2018 when Instagram started cracking down on fake user accounts. Captiv8 found that about $2.1 billion was spent on influencer-sponsored Instagram posts in 2017. More than 11 percent of engagement from those Buyer’s Side By GERALD baldino Feeling the Influence Influencer marketing sees massive growth but not without its challenges Do you use influencers? (Retail executives, check all the apply) Yes, we engage with current brand advocates to become influencers 31% Yes, we use micro-influencers 30% Yes, we use paid celebrity influencer 28% No, we do not use influencers 33% No, but we are planning to 7% Source: Retail Touchpoints