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What does the future of influencer marketing look like?

social media influencers

Almost half (45%) of social media users find sponsored post hashtags annoying, and that number rises to 55% for 18- to 24-year-olds, according to research conducted by UM.

The study was commissioned exclusively for Campaign as part of the Post-Influencer Culture report, which launched in May and looks at the challenges and cultural shifts driving the new era of influencer marketing.

According to the research, young people feel less comfortable expressing themselves on Facebook than on other platforms. Thirty-seven percent chose Instagram as the platform on which they can best express themselves, compared to just 20% for Facebook. Those figures suggest a disconnect between young people and Facebook, which tends to appeal to an older demographic.

Overall, LinkedIn is where people feel most comfortable. Approximately 21% of consumers of all ages said they are “most themselves” on the employment-oriented platform, compared to 12% for Facebook, 13% for Instagram and 14% for Snapchat. This, perhaps, reflects the need to be more truthful in a more professional environment.

According to the study, the most important factor in deciding whether to follow an influencer is that the content needs feels authentic or real. A quarter of participants (25%) said this is “very important;” among 18- to 24-year-olds, that number rises to 40%.

Campaign’s Post-Influencer Culture report explores these findings as well as several other topics pertaining to the future of influencer marketing.

The influencer ecosystem

How should brands navigate the new hierarchy of influence? When Instagram is where young consumers go for discovery, are traditional media brands losing their relevance?

Extreme honesty

Authenticity lies at the heart of the new influencer economy. With the rise of “artificial intimacy” to the emergence of new inclusive communities, what are the implications of that shift for brands?

Commercial opportunity

The quip that “Instagram is QVC for millennials” is based in truth, but the long-term future of influencer marketing is about more than just using the channel as a platform for direct sales.

Ben Jeffries, CEO and cofounder of Influencer, says the future of influencer marketing is not just about people reviewing products or wearing the latest items to drive sales. Instead, it is based on using influencers as talent within creative strategies.

“This is where the future lies – in using influencers as content creators in their own right,” he says.

Instagratification

From new, digitally driven experiences to embracing the post-validation age, the future of influencer marketing presents multiple opportunities for brands.

The growth of podcasts as an influencer platform is one example of new programming models for fresh voices. Gemma Glover, influencer strategist at Engine, says agencies are now allocating 20% of their brands’ ad budget to partnering with influencers on podcasts.

But brands need to shift their understanding of influencer marketing by embracing the fact that influence exists across a spectrum; it’s not restricted to reality TV stars flaunting their favorite protein powders on social media.

This article originally appeared on campaignlive.com.

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