January 30, 2018

The Year Influencer Marketing Grows Up

Carrie Kerpen

When you’re a parent, there’s an awful lot to do. Aside from the basics—keeping them well-fed, healthy, teeth reasonably brushed—you also have to make sure they’re thriving socially and generally happy. And over the past year, a lot of the social talk has been around the now notorious Logan Paul and his brother, Jake.

These two blonde boys made videos daily—ones that would instantly make any parent buy a pair of earplugs and a sleep mask. They’re terrible by any adult account. But for whatever reason, these boys have resonated with the tween population. Together, the Paul brothers have accumulated nearly 30 million YouTube subscribers. Logan, in particular, earns more than 5 million views for each of his daily videos and—thanks to his popularity among Gen Z—has landed deals with major brands such as Nike, Walmart, Verizon, Dunkin Donuts, and Pepsi.

So what’s a mom to do when her ten-year-old daughter comes home, raging that “it’s not so bad that Logan filmed that dead body,” and “people just want to see him fall”? Such was the case when my beautiful, confident, smart, and usually reasonable daughter walked into the house the day that Logan Paul filmed a dead man hanging from a noose in Japan—after disrespecting the country in a racist and vile manner.

Well, as I do with all of these scenarios, I took a deep breath. I started thinking about how I was going to police all of her activity going forward—would I actually need to watch these people she finds interesting to check for things I found inappropriate? Ultimately, I may have to do that—but I can assure you, it will be temporary. Because the way influencers produce content on the internet is about to change in a big, big way, as influencer marketing makes a pivotal shift.

Cracking down on rules and regulations

Following the Logan Paul fallout, YouTube dropped the video star from its Google Preferred premium advertising program and later announced new eligibility requirements for video creators wanting to join the program and a new system for manually vetting Google Preferred videos. Meanwhile, in an effort to protect brand safety, many marketers are beginning to take a more critical look at their influencer contracts, adding more specific language to make sure that their content partnerships are well aligned.

Greater transparency around branded content.

We’ve also seen steps taken by social platforms to bring greater transparency to branded content, including Instagram, which rolled out its “paid partnership” tag last year. Expect further steps to be taken this year, as the FTC takes a more watchful eye to social media content between advertisers and influencers.

Trusted long-term relationships

It’s no longer enough to have a large following—marketers must be certain that influencers align with brand values. This year, we will likely see brands becoming more selective, focusing on building a strong long-term relationship with the right influencer rather than creating quick campaigns or one-offs with multiple influencers.

Influencer partnerships bring plenty of benefits to brands—reaching target demographics, increasing brand awareness, and building stronger relationships with customers. But they certainly come with their share of risks, including giving up brand control and possible brand damage in the event of a Logan Paul-type scandal. For many marketers, the rewards outweigh the risks, but this year, the risks may be further mitigated as influencer marketing grows up.

I, for one, am looking forward to some standards set by the tech companies, and the collective community—to determine what content will be worthy of sponsorship/brand dollars. What say you?

Tags: Best Practices, Big Brands, Carrie's Corner, Influencer Marketing, Instagram, Paid Media, Trends, YouTube

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