2018 has been a pivotal year for influencer marketing. The industry has continued to see huge growth, while simultaneously coming under intense fire for issues relating to transparency and authenticity.

As a result of this, however, brands are now starting to get smart about influencer marketing – taking heed from previous mistakes and re-evaluating the most important metrics.

Influencer Intelligence’s new report in association with Econsultancy delves into how the industry has changed in the past year, and considers the challenges that will need to be addressed in order to generate success in future. Here’s a few key takeaways to consider.

Influencer Marketing 2020

Proving ROI will be critical in future

The impact of influencer marketing is not easy to quantify. Campaigns can result in short-term gains, with consumers immediately being persuaded to click through and buy something. However, the benefits can also be drawn out, with consumers merely being inspired (but not enough to buy there and then). Meanwhile, with softer metrics like engagement and awareness also coming in to play, measuring the ROI of influencer marketing can prove to be a big headache.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that the majority of marketers are still struggling to do so. In fact, just 18% of survey respondents say that they are able to integrate influencer marketing into overall digital marketing ROI calculations. This is despite 84% of marketers agreeing that it will be critical to success in future.

measuring ROI of influencers

Identifying relevant talent is also a challenge

Alongside proving the ROI of individual influencers, 22% of marketers also cite identifying relevant talent as their biggest challenge of the past 12 months.

In many ways, this can be viewed as a positive sign, as it means that marketers are more aware of the importance of finding influencers that align with a brand’s goals and target market. With 90% of marketers also saying that authenticity is key to the success of influencer campaigns, it’s certainly clear that marketers are showing diligence when selecting the right talent.

Fifty four percent of marketers say they are still searching for influencers manually, by trawling through social media platforms and forums themselves. Thirty eight percent say they rely on recommendations from contacts within the industry to find the right talent.

While manually searching is time-consuming, it does have its benefits, again in relation to authenticity. It means that marketers can analyse comments, in order to ensure they are from real fans and not fake bots.

identifying talent

Fakes remain the biggest concern

Speaking of fake followers – this issue was cited by 42% of marketers as their number one concern relating to influencer marketing. While it’s been bubbling below the surface for a while, concern seems to have skyrocketed since Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO, spoke at Cannes about inauthenticity within the industry.

Again, this is not a bad thing, with marketers now intent on delving deeper into analytics to ensure they’re seeing an accurate picture of followers and fans.

It’s not just bots that are a problem. Other guidelines relating to transparency, including the disclosure of paid-for content, remain blurry. There’s also a growing awareness that consumers are becoming less trustful of influencers as a result, with 64% of marketers agreeing that drastic action to prove transparency is critical.

Now, many industry professionals are calling for the ASA to create clear laws (not mere guidelines) to eradicate the current grey areas that are causing so much confusion.

fake followers

For more on this topic, including the trends that will impact the industry over the next year, download the Influencer 2020 report in full.