The Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2018 - CATEGORY News metro: TITLE

The power that content and influential social media users wield isn’t new—but tapping into it will take new tricks.

Both strategies continue to dominate, as PR pros looking to make a splash in 2018 look for the next big thing. However, the shape and reign of both has been affected by a barrage of brand messages, the fake news crisis, PR and marketing budgets and more.

Here are several insights from communicators on how to adapt to the changing landscape—while still taking advantage of these hot trends.

The new shape of influencer marketing

If your organization hasn’t yet latched onto influencer marketing, be prepared to in 2018.

“Gone are the days of one-off promos, instead brands will be building long-term partnerships with niche influencers to create strategic marketing campaigns,” says PR agency owner Deirdre Anne Lopain.

“It’s all about user-generated content and influencers,” says digital marketer Nicole Knoll. “People put their trust into other people, not brands. To adapt, brands will need to partner with influencers and brand ambassadors to succeed.”

Simply partnering with a social media heavyweight, however, is also a thing of the past. Brand managers will have to get much more savvy with partnered messages and promotions.

“[Successful campaigns] will place the customer journey at the center between the brand and the influencers' community driving stronger engagement, leading to an impact in sales, increasing overall customer satisfaction and retention,” Lopain says.

Working with influencers will also cost you—and might force you to rethink your promotional budget structure.

Rachel Hawke, group head of social for TUI Group, says the PR and marketing cost-per-acquisition model was “never going to be an attractive model to an influencer used to working on a guaranteed fixed sum regardless of commercial outcome.”

Hawke says brand managers who move to split commission more proportionately between their organizations’ marketing campaigns and influencers along a customer’s journey can see more success in the upcoming year—and says the model is “particularly attractive to micro-influencers looking to build up brand relationships.”

Along with budget adjustments, brand managers working on influencer campaigns ought to adjust their metrics and campaign goals, as well.

Rebecca Oatley, managing director of Cherish PR, says: “Reach is taking a back seat to engagement and we will see influencers working less on their followers and more on how much interaction and engagement they can show.”

Tim Gibbon, founder and editor of the Social Media Portal, says PR and marketing pros should focus on “better ideas, technology” and other content efforts involving social media influencers to “cut through the noise and reinvigorate interest where there is fatigue”—which, Gibbon says, will be in large supply.

PR pros will have to work hard to produce efforts that catch consumers’ attention—without “hanging on to the trouser legs or skirt strings of micro-influencers,” Gibbon says. PR and marketing pros will have to remember that consumers are faced with too many messages to pay attention to all of them.

[RELATED: > Learn how to boost buzz, build brand recognition and engage employees on the hottest social media platforms.


The changing reign of content

Content is still king, but as social media continues to affect the way people consume stories and trust in news and messaging decreases, the monarch’s kingdom will look different in the upcoming year.

As PR pros battle with the growing problem of fake news, those who can craft timely and reliable content can secure their stories in headlines.

“There will be more opportunities for contributed content and bylines as newsrooms continue to shrink,” says Laura King Edwards, content lead for Wray Ward.

Just remember to remain honest: PR consultant Amanda Coleman says it’s crucial for communicators of all stripes to “ensure they are speaking, engaging and communicating with authenticity.”

Shrinking newsrooms and decreased trust in news media also presents an opportunity for brand journalism.

Edwards says:

As the content landscape becomes more cluttered, people will rely mostly on a few key sources they trust and know when they need information about a topic that interests them. Marketers that make a commitment to producing valuable, relevant owned content will have a better shot at owning their industry’s digital landscape.

“The trend I'm watching is the merging of paid and earned media,” says PR pro Michelle Garrett. “What does it mean for PR pros? We need to remember that earned media on its own may no longer get the job done. By factoring sponsored or branded content into the mix, we can get better results for our clients.”

For those creating content, the influence of an outlet or author—along with valuable takeaways—will be paramount for attracting attention and building loyalty among readers and potential consumers.

“There is now so much content that without the influence of a respected media outlet or a social influence, it literally washes away,” says Cherish PR’s Oatley. “2018 will be the year when quality should mean standing out from content noise.”

PR pros taking advantage of this trend in 2018 should make sure to hone their writing.

“… PR pros need to make sure their content skills are up to speed,” Garrett says. “This trend should serve those in PR with journalistic training well. Never has strong writing been more important.”

Your writing prowess will come in handy for crafting pithy and punchy copy.

Trisha Beausaert, PR manager at, says “short, bite-sized content” should be PR pros’ goal for 2018. “Think Snapchat and snappy headlines,” she says. “Our audience's attention span is shorter than ever, and attracting it takes creativity and the perfect tease.”

What trends will you be watching for in 2018, PR Daily readers?

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