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A dramatic title, yes.

But the way of the influencer may be on its way out. And here’s why:

Since the dawn of the influencer, marketers have clamored to use this new avenue to reach consumers. By partnering with social media personalities who have large followings, brands can tap into a eager audience and boost their exposure. 

One of the draws of social media is a feeling of transparency and close connection between the influencer and their audience. But when the audience begins to feel used for that connection, it can begin to sever.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a way for businesses to leverage people with large social followings, promoting goods and services to their audience. 

It’s no secret that young people are spending less time in front of the TV. And more time with their eyes on their phones. Apparently (and unsurprisingly), half of Gen Z’s waking hours are spent online. It’s an obvious play by companies to capitalise on that. 

Companies partner with influencers on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Influencers are typically paid to post content that features the brand or product. So think product reviews, sponsored posts, or shoutouts. The goal of influencer marketing is to leverage the influencer’s social influence and credibility. Because that translates to reaching a wider audience and driving sales.

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Is influencer marketing effective? 

There’s no doubt that influencer marketing can be effective – many brands have seen great results from influencer campaigns. 

If you want to get your business’ name out there, influencer marketing has been a very effective way in the age of social media. Click on any of your favourite Youtuber’s video and you’ll easily stumble on an example. All-too-familiar promos for a VPN service, a meal kit delivery, website builders… It’s a tried and true method.

Look at Raycon – the middle-of-the-line earbud brand by musician Ray J. In 2018 you couldn’t scroll through a social media app without seeing some influencer lauding over the earbuds. These were a new product on the market in a highly competitive space – so using fresh marketing strategies were pivotal for its success.

Because according to this article, their aggressive marketing via instagram, youtube and podcast sponsorships, was the reason for its huge growth.

Can you even trust influencers?

Social media used to feel a lot more transparent than it is now. But now many influencers are criticised for failing to disclose their sponsored content properly. This leads to accusations of deceiving their audience for personal gain. 

Just look at the “pump and dump” crypto currency influencers. Or Logan Paul’s failed CryptoZoo project, where buyers were scammed out of millions of dollars over a defunct crypto currency “game”. It’s these types of money-making schemes that have shaken the marketing landscape. And have audiences thinking twice about believing their favourite internet personalities. 

Influencers know their value is in their audience, and audiences are growing weary of being used for their clicks. But, how can we shift our marketing to make users trust again?

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The nichification of the internet 

Micro-influencers are influencers with smaller followings (typically under 10,000). Despite their small size, they can have a highly engaged and loyal fan base. So, by partnering with micro-influencers, companies can tap into a more targeted and authentic audience.

Similarly, niche communities are becoming more influential, as consumers seek out brands that share their values. For example, climbing communities are looking at their influencers to let them know the right rope or carabiners to buy. Painting communities want to know what brushes are best. 

Now, some niches can be huge. Travel, beauty, gaming… these “niches” contain a ton of engagement and diversity. So honing in on a specific community allows for more reliable, engaged potential buyers.

However, ROI issues come into play here. Now brands must diversify their marketing efforts across multiple smaller influencers – and those numbers can add up quickly.

How can brands adapt? 

As influencer marketing loses its shine, the changing landscape will force brands to change focus. Consumers are demanding more authenticity and transparency in what they’re watching, and are increasingly wary of feeling “sold to”.

So, brands should focus on building real relationships with their target audience and prioritizing transparency in their marketing efforts. By focusing on smaller, more engaged audiences, brands can create more targeted and effective marketing campaigns that resonate with their target consumers.

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What is the best type of online marketing?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are certainly types of online marketing that have proven to be more effective than others.

That said, video marketing is the way to go for businesses looking to make an impact online. Compared to other types of content, videos can be more memorable and engaging.

The beauty of video marketing is that it comes in different forms, from product demos to customer testimonials. And, with shrinking attention spans, videos can capture and hold the audience’s attention longer.

Video marketing not only increases brand awareness, but also drives more traffic to your website and improves search engine rankings. So, if you’re looking for a way to stand out and reach your target audience, investing in video marketing is a no-brainer.

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The Future of Digital Marketing: What’s Next?

As influencer marketing declines, we can expect to see new forms of digital marketing emerge. But one trend that is already gaining momentum is UGC marketing. 

What is UGC?

UGC (User-Generated Content) leverages the content that consumers create about a brand or product. Reviews, photos, videos… using real people’s posts to build trust and promote the brand. UGC is seen as more authentic and trustworthy than traditional marketing messages. It makes sense, it comes directly from other consumers.

So, with the decline of influencer marketing, brands will need to be nimble and adaptable in their approach to digital marketing. But, constantly experimenting with new strategies and techniques will be a surefire way to stay ahead of the curve.

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Influencer marketing isn’t dead. Yet. 

For now, it may be premature to declare the death of influencer marketing. Despite the challenges that have arisen, influencer marketing continues to be a valuable tool for many brands. Particularly, those in the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle industries.

That said, it’s clear that the landscape of influencer marketing is evolving. And brands will need to adapt their strategies to stay relevant and effective. 

So, prioritize transparency. Shift towards micro-influencers and niche communities. Experiment with new forms of digital marketing. Indeed, brands don’t have to abandon influencer marketing, just shift how they go about it. Market through influencers in a way that builds trust, engages consumers, and drives results.

Therefore, understand the needs and preferences of your target audience. And use that knowledge to create content and campaigns that resonate with them.

Yes, the future of influencer marketing remains uncertain. But, one thing is clear. Brands that can navigate the changing landscape will be well-positioned to thrive in the digital age.

Rachel Siegel

Author Rachel Siegel

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