Social media is THE phenomenon of our time, and one that keeps challenging us to keep up. I mean, who’d have thought just a few years ago that this universe would blow up so quickly, and to the size it has currently reached. Who would have predicted it would take up such a central role in our lives? Social media is no longer confined to the digital realm either, it exerts an influence on our actial lives. It shapes our aesthetics, our culinary culture, even our political decision. Social media is gaining influence, and with it the stars that arose in the social media universe: influencers.
Both ridiculed and revered, influencers themselves, as well as influencer marketing are polarizing.
Many ask the question:
where is it all going?
I actually ask myself that same question very frequently, and I have a close eye on the development, both out of personal as well as professional interest. The entire field is new, which makes it difficult to make accurate predictions, but it seems there is an underlying, cyclical dynamic at work. I think 2019 will be particularly interesting in that respect. I am observing a number of trends, for which it is still not possible to say whether they are mere fads or have staying power, but all of which have a highly promising nucleus. Which trends I am talking about, and why they harbor exciting perspectives for influencers? Let me give you my take on it all in this article.
But before we dive in, a disclaimer: this post is not scientific, it represents my personal opinion, based on my almost 15 years in the industry. Before I founded my current blog in 2010, I was what you’d now call an influencer on Myspace and Lookbook, the big social media players back then. So, yes, I’m a veteran in the field, but my predictions are nevertheless speculations, and by no means a guarantee for success.
With that in mind, let’s jump right in.
Podcasts are the new blogs
Podcasts are popping up all over the place right now – not unlike what we saw when blogs startet appearing everywhere back in the day. The podcast format itself is nothing new, but it definitely undergoes a revival right now. Plenty of podcasts have been around for many years at this point (e.g. Fest & Flauschig), and are only now arriving at the mainstream of wide recognition. It is not surprising, if you think about it.Just like blogs are competing with classic print formats, and just like YouTube is a challenge to television, podcasts are a strong alternative to classic radio formats. While there is talk of a current “podcast hype”, I do believe that the market is far from saturated. If anything, in fact, demand for podcast formats seems to be increasing – for shows that offer relevant content, published at perceptible frequency. The basic rule of blogging also applies to podcasts: content is king.
The era of top-Instagramers is almost over
Do you remember the era of top models in the 90s? Everybody knew Claudia,Naomi, Cindy and Kate. There were supermodels before and after this period, but the status of these particular 90s icons remains untouched and unreached to this day. They were runway superstars in a league entirely of their own. Linda said, back then: “We don’t wake up for less than $10.000 day”. This statement is applicable to some of today’s top-influencers. A new era has dawned, after all, one in which top-Instagramers reign supreme. You may think of Kendall & Kylie, Bella, Emily and Hailey what you wish, but it is indisputable that they permeate the market and influence an entire generation, not unlike the way those supermodels did in the 90s. They are so ubiquitous, there’s practically no way around them – and that already spells out the root of the problem I foresee. These influencers are omnipresent, and slowly, but steadily, we are getting tired of them. Meanwhile, it is becoming ever more difficult for young hopefuls to make a name for themselves in light of such overpowering competition. The Instagram algorithm does not help, either. All things considered, I think we see signs of the era of top-Instagramers slowly coming to an end.
Niche-networks are gaining relevance
Talking about algorithms: the Facebook group is undoubtedly the most important social network in the world. But the algorithm, and maybe the sheer size of the network, make it unpredictable and chaotic, which prompts increasing numbers of Influencers to get creative and to flock to new communities. More and more of these alternatives to Facebook and Instagram are cropping up, and often they are oriented towards much more clearly defined target groups. This, in turn, equals a potential for growth. Influencers in niche networks can communicate to certain target groups more directly, which gives them the chance to grow faster, provided they offer relevant, high quality content. Influencers with focus on particular areas like travel or business are, in my opinion, well advised to make more use of such niche networks.For example, sharing travel tips on TripAdvisor or Mapify can well be worth your while. Business topics find an outlet on LinkedIn, political content is well placed on Twitter, and building communities on Spotify and TikTok will pay off in the future, quite literally. This is a general statement, by the way, not just applicable to influencers. Apart from the budgets, which are funneled into social media marketing, these platforms are often also looking to hire staff. There seems to be a bit of a trend reversal happening right now. Whereas interns had to field entire editorial areas on the side, companies seem more interested in investing in competent staff, people with the capacity and capability to realize more creative campaigns at a higher level, people who (hopefully) are open to exploring new platforms as well.
More vertical video content
The competition for YouTube is increasing. Facebook is directing increasing focus on video content, to the point that the network (allegedly) places video content more prominently and more frequently in its feeds. What’s more, Instagram has also taken the same route with Stories and IGTV. This is a great development, if you know how to make the best of it. Not all videos are equally well received. I perceive the following trend: vertical videos are taking over, the clips themselves become longer, but have to be involving from the first second (e.g. with an exciting teaser). Videos have to suck you in from the word go. This completely changes the way clips are produced, and poses new challenges to video producers. For example: “how do you conduct an interview in a vertical format?”. Changing old paradigms is difficult for many, but like with many such developments in the past, this one is irreversible. From my perspective, everyone is well advised to adapt as soon as possible. If you react quickly now, by developing cool formats and posting them regularly at fixed intervals, you may be able to get a head-start and build a sustainable presence. A good example for this approach is Paul Ripke, who established a daily IGTV format with “Daily Ripke”. And who knows, maybe it will all lead to vertical Netflix series and vertical television. But here we may be attempting to peek too far into the future.
Newsletter & Messenger Marketing
Many bloggers are currently facing the challenge of how to share their content. Messenger marjeting is a simple and great solution. You can send out a kind of newsletter via WhatsApp and similar messenger services, little news bits in which you inform the recipients about your latest blogs, news or discount codes. Few people are doing this right now, but in the near future WhatsApp is going to become increasingly interesting for influencers and brands, not least due to the fact that Facebook is planning to open WhatsApp for ads in 2019. If you’d like to run a successful newsletter via WhatsApp, you should adhere to the classic rules: make it relevant, regular and at decently spaced intervals. In short, make it count, provide added value to your audience.
These 5 tips to aid you on the way to a successful social media profile are probably not breaking news to you, nor are they rocket science. Hopefully, though, they provide food for thought for those of you who’d like to take their blogs and profiles to the next level. They may also serve as inspiration for those of you who work in the field, or who are simply interested in the topic. But the basis, on which all these tips can help you to flourish, is adherence to the main, golden rule: exciting, beautiful and/or relvant content are the key to success.
Content is King.