The Future of Influencers
The term “influencer” is controversial, even among those who are influencers themselves. However, the industry is projected to be worth $21.1 billion in 2023. With influencer content being consumed 13.2 times more than traditional media and brand content, why aren’t influencers proud of their achievements? What’s next for this evolving space?
The term itself has a long history, starting in astrology and moving all the way through to traditional celebrities, bloggers, vloggers and more. Nowadays, being an influencer comes with its fair share of criticism. It’s intriguing to think about where the influencer label will go next. Should influencers embrace the fact that they’ve built a following and become recognisable by brands as a powerful marketing force? And how will the title continue to develop? Will influencers be known as “trenders” or “lifestyle editors”?
Sales Saturation to Engagement Evolution: The Magic of Community and Conversation
But the power of influencers lies with so much more than the often assumed job of solely promoting products on social media. Some argue that instead of viewing the industry’s saturation as disruptive, we should see it as an evolution. The focus has shifted from solely selling products to building communities and, at the heart of the communities, conversation.
Although social media can sometimes be seen as shallow and digital, it’s all about fostering human interaction, meaningful conversations and finding like-minded individuals. Just take a look at prominent figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress, with 8.5 million Instagram followers, or Mrs. Hinch, known as “The Queen of Clean,” with 4.7 million followers. These influencers, whilst using their platform for different topics, are examples of the width of conversations occurring and are figures with the power to build pockets of like minded individuals on socials, shaping discussions and engaging their audiences no matter what that may be.
Interestingly, there’s now an overlap between “celebrity” and “influencer.” Influencer marketing agencies are rapidly expanding, and influencers are venturing into the celebrity space, gracing red carpets, appearing in films and magazines and even participating in fan-favorite TV shows like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. It makes you wonder, have the tables turned? Will traditional celebrities need to transition into the influencer space to stay relevant?
Dynamic Dynasties: AI Influencers Join the party
And even further across the horizon? Well, Influencers might just become their own brands. Influencers like Molly Mae have already outshined the brands they initially worked with. They’ve built their own empires, complete with employees and possibly even shareholders with influence. Who knows, they might even catch the attention of media groups looking to acquire their influential brands.
And even more for the future of the current cohort, they’ll likely play a role in fostering the next generation of digital talent. We might witness a rise in influencers turning into influencer agents, nurturing young influencers and passing on their skills to protegees. Additionally, as high-profile influencer relationships and marriages mature, we’ll see the emergence of “legacy influencers.” Think sons and daughters of Zoella and PointlessBlog, who will continue the influencer legacy with the guidance of their parents’ extensive followings. These modern media dynasties will wield significant social power.
And we’re yet to mention AI. AI virtual influencers, or CGI influencers as they’re sometimes called, are fictional computer-generated ‘people’ who possess human-like characteristics, features, and personalities. Take Lil Miquela, with 2.7 million followers on Instagram, for example.
They’re becoming a force to be reckoned with in the influencer marketing industry, with new ones popping up on Instagram every week. Brands are also jumping on board, eager to collaborate with these futuristic marketing tools. Virtual influencers give brands more control over their collaborations, as any mistakes or changes can be easily rectified within minutes.
Logging Off: The Final Hashtag
So, what do you think? What’s in store for this ever evolving industry? The future is dynamic and full of possibilities. As influencers shift from product promotion to community building and conversations, traditional celebrity lines blur. They’re now becoming their own brands, AI influencers are making waves, and a new era of “legacy influencers” is emerging. One thing remains certain: influencers will continue to influence the way we connect, converse and market in the years to come.
About Influence Digital
Influence Digital is an award-winning digital and social media marketing agency based in Central London.