Lucky for you, Instagram influencer marketing is on the rise and isn’t expected to lose speed anytime soon. Influencer marketing is now a half a billion dollar industry and when it comes to influencers, Instagram is where it’s at (but you already know that)!
Making the most out of your account when it comes to Instagram influencer marketing is keeping up with the current trends of the industry. Knowledge is power and it’s always important to be in the know about what’s happening in the industry you’re trying to make a living in, so you can be one step ahead of everyone else.
Let’s break it down: In 2016, $570 million was spent on Instagram influencer marketing alone and 73% of marketers said they allocated a budget for influencer marketing. Based on a survey by Linquia, 48% of marketers have planned to increase their influencer marketing budgets the following year, with only 4% of marketers reporting a decrease in influencer efforts. (Whoop whoop! This is huge for you!)
But what does this actually mean? That we’re on the brink of something really big and it’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of the influencer movement!
Instagram influencer marketing is revolutionizing the industry because it WORKS.
With an exponential growth in funding for influencer marketing, the industry is rapidly developing and in some cases overtaking traditional marketing tactics altogether. So the next time your parents ask, “Exactly, what do you do again? Just take pictures?” Smile and politely show them the facts because Instagram influencer marketing is taking over and there is tons of industry research to back you up.
As much as the Instagram social landscape is rapidly changing, so are the trends. Here’s what you need to know:
Trend # 1: The Rise of The Micro Influencer
For those of you always obsessing about your follower growth (yes, we all do it and damn that cursed algorithm, right?) – not to worry. There’s a new niche in town and marketers like to refer to them as “micro influencers.” So if you’ve got anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 (authentic) followers, you’re in the running to monetize your influence. There are a few reasons agencies and brands are really excited about micro influencers:
Brands think that a micro influencer possesses an interested and engaged audience. Think about it, sometimes when you see someone with SOOO many followers, you may not give them a like or comment because you think they don’t need it. Whereas smaller accounts, often get more love.
Micro influencers are way more cost effective for brands to work with. If a company has a designated influencer budget, some brands would rather spread that across multiple influencers that target various niches (culinary, adventure, romance etc.) than risk it all on one big account.
When influencers have smaller audiences, it feels like they don’t use bots or engage in any shady business. It feels like their follower count is real.
Trend #2: The Increased Use of Instagram as A Source of Travel Planning
We hate to say this outloud, but if you’re a millennial (like us) then chances are you’re not picking up a travel guide at the bookstore to help you plan your next trip. You’ll either screenshot pics from some of your favorite bloggers recent trips or save them to your Insta collection board. Instagram has become the go-to tool when it comes to travel planning for millennials.
We recently read an article in National Geographic that featured a story about how influencer marketing transformed the tourism industry in the small town of Wanaka, New Zealand. The tourism board of Wanaka started inviting influencers to go on adventure style press trips and BOOM – it resulted in the town having the fastest growing tourism rates in the entire country!
The truth is people would now rather follow travel focused accounts on Instagram for travel inspo and tips than pick up travel brochures or printed guides. The shift in trip planning behavior shows Instagram’s mega force as a marketing tool. So if you’re just starting out as a travel blogger- we suggest you focus on targeting those smaller tourism boards where your influence can really make a big impact.
TREND #3: Brands Are Demanding ROI and Trackable Analytics for Partnerships and Collaborations.
Let’s take a second and put ourselves in the brand’s shoes. By paying you or providing you with free products or trips, they’re investing in you and hoping that your “influence” pays off – because at the end of the day, it’s business right?
While clients have their own internal set of goals they’re measuring (engagement, growth of audience, sales etc.) – at the end of the day, the more data the client gets from the partnership, the better. Instagram influencer marketing initiatives are something that PR and marketing agencies are always tracking and collecting data on to determine the return on investment to report to clients.
Depending on the partnership, brands may request that you put a trackable link in your Instagram bio, posts and even blog articles. You may have seen links floating around that start with “BITLY” which is not only a link shortening tool but also produces trackable analytics.
And if you’ve ever seen those really LONGGGG URLs with lots of % signs and weird codes within the link like this:
Well these links are UTM tagged (see the words UTM throughout the long link above) so they’re easily identified by google analytics. Huh? What’s UTM – it’s just an abbreviation for Urchin Tracking Module- clearly a super scary name so UTM just sounds better.
According to our friends at Launch Digital Marketing, “A UTM code is a simple code that you can attach to a custom URL in order to track a source, medium, and campaign name. This enables Google Analytics to tell you where searchers came from as well as what campaign directed them to you.” So when one of your followers clicks the link, the client can review it in google analytics and understand your value as an influencer.
Another source of info that is super useful for brands in determining ROI is your Insta Story analytics. If you don’t have a business account for Instagram, you’ll need to keep track of all your Insta Story analytics on your own because for PR and marketing agencies, this data is really important.
After you upload a brand partnership or collab post on your Insta Stories, make sure to set a timer and take a screenshot right before the story is about to expire or they will disappear and you will lose those valuable analytics forever.
TREND #4: The Increased Usage of the Voting Feature on Insta Stories as Part of a Brand Partnership.
One of the big new trends in Instagram influencer marketing is the new voting feature on Insta Stories.Most brands who invest in influencer marketing are obsessed with numbers because analytics can demonstrate value and validate where they are spending their marketing dollars.
For brands, the new voting feature on Insta stories is super exciting because they can have influencers ask their followers certain questions about their product, service and/or destination and then receive real feedback from potential clients.
For example, if an influencer is being hosted by a tourism board, at the end of their trip, they could ask their followers, “Would you visit this country?” and then you could include the results of the vote to the tourism board in your partnership recap. Not only will they be thrilled with this information but it shows that you are capable of quantifying your trip and experience in measurable results.
If you’re being hosted by a tourism board and they’re paying for everything, we suggest you offer to do these types of posts as a courtesy and “thank you.” But of course, if a random brand asks you to post a question about their product to get feedback from your followers, you should definitely put a price tag on it because having access to this type of information is really THAT valuable to marketers and brands.
Instagram Influencer Marketing Is Taking Over More Than Just Brands’ Marketing Budgets.
Trend #5: Instagram Influencer Marketing is Replacing Traditional Brand Photo Shoots.
If you’ve never worked for a brand you may not know that brands are in constant need for fresh and new images to use on their social media accounts, email newsletters and marketing campaigns. Back in the day, clients would hire a qualified photographer and production team that would cost them a pretty penny to produce grandiose photo shoots to use in their promotional efforts.
Now, we’re seeing a shift in brands using their photo shoot budgets to invest in influencer content creation because they can get the images they need without all the work. This new wave of getting influencers to produce content on their behalf is genius- not only do they get branded content but they also get visibility when an influencer posts the photo on their social accounts. It’s a win-win.
While this is a smart move for brands to get the most bang for their buck, one of the benefits of keeping it old school is that brands get access to the entire roll of photos from a traditional photo shoot (which doesn’t really happen in the influencer world). Another up side to brands producing a photo shoot in-house is quality control – all of the images have the same aesthetic and consistency, which for branding purposes is essential.
But the issue with not taking advantage of this new trend is that production costs for a photo shoot are exorbitant. Think about it, you have to hire a full team of models, hair and make-up professionals, wardrobe stylists, photographers, editors, food for day of the shoot and the list goes on. The fact that producing a shoot is so much work and very costly means they usually only happen once a year (if that).
The great thing about the new trend of using influencers for brand photo shoots is that instead of hiring a full team for the shoot, the client can choose influencers that fit their brand vibe and not have to worry about the logistics. For example:
Sometimes brands hire an influencer to be the photographer (and even in some cases, be in the photos, edit them, style herself, provide wardrobe etc.); or,
Brands use their budget across many influencers and pay them to produce content so they have a variety of “models” and images to use rather than just a few vibes.
So what’s the takeaway here? If you’re an influencer looking to up your money making game, LISTEN CLOSELY…
THERE IS MONEY IN PRODUCTION BUDGETS!
We hate to break it to you but “sponsored posts” will only get you so far but being the photographer and/or creative director of brand shoots can make you some serious cash. You can even pitch being in the shoot yourself too or if you’re a visionary with connections, just work your magic behind the scenes.
As you can see, keeping up with these new Instagram influencer marketing trends can lead to new opportunities to help you boost your business and influence. It’s really important to keep up with industry trends so you know exactly where you best fit into the influencer world and how you can add value to travel brands and destinations and inevitably increase your client list.
Remember, YOU and your influence are valuable and it’s about time you know why!
All information provided on this Website has been prepared for general educational and informational purposes only. The information on this Website does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, legal or financial advice and is general in nature.
Got a question or want to share any other trends you think are interesting? We’d love to know! Feel free to share in the comments section down below!
MEET THE EXPERTS
Nina ZadehDirector of Partnerships, MBA
Clairesse BrogoittiDirector of Business Affairs, JD
We’re industry experts devoted to helping travel bloggers get more partnerships, understand their value, and turn their travel influence into a legit business.
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Sidewalker Daily is a team of marketing and business professionals dedicated to providing resources to travel bloggers and influencers who want to turn their social influence into a profitable and legitimate business. They also manage one of the original travel/style communities on Instagram of now over 60,000 travelers from around the globe - @sidewalkerdaily.
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