If you’re an influencer or you work with influencers, you have undoubtedly heard the dreaded words “brand loyalty.” Well, it’s not entirely new. Back at the turn of the century, people were likelier to follow the brands they knew and trusted.
But with the rise of online influencers, that is no longer the case. Consumers now have the opportunity to research and learn about brands before buying products that they love.
So what happened? Are we seeing less of an emphasis on brand loyalty and more of an emphasis on finding the best price and quality?
The Evolution Of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing dates back to the 1930s. Although the word “influencer” has only been officially added to the English dictionary in 2019, it has only been part of the modern lexicon for a decade.
In the 2000s, digital creators with large followings were viewed as influential figures. They were typically known for their humorous videos that often poked fun at social issues.
While these influencers garnered lots of views, they weren’t always recognized for their value in creating profitable long-term relationships with their audience. Influencer marketing as we know it was basically born.
But as the industry grew, we saw influencers rise, and others fall by the wayside. Here are some of the most significant events that shaped the current state of influencer marketing.
The Rise Of YouTube Influencers
YouTube started it all. Back in 2005, the platform launched with a focus on community and sharing content.
And what better way to engage with your audience than by partnering with popular creators to share insider knowledge and comedic humor around trending topics?
The result? A whole generation of content creators grew up on YouTube, and the platform surpassed even Facebook as the home of online creators.
According to Brightcove research, consumers prefer to learn about brands through video content, while others prefer to read about them. Even if you aren’t into social media, you probably know someone who is.
And let’s be honest, many of our blogs would be pretty dull without video content. So without YouTube, influencer marketing may never have taken off.
The Rise Of Instagram Influencers
Instagram started off as a photo-sharing platform but quickly grew to include stories, live videos, and other immersive content. This is why we see so many influencers post videos to their Instagram account first and foremost.
Even if you’re a blogger looking to build your audience, you can likely find the most success on Instagram.
This isn’t to say that other platforms don’t still have a place in the influencer marketing world. In fact, Snapchat is the preferred social media platform among consumers interested in fashion and style.
However, if you’re a brand that wants to reach millennials, Instagram is where you want to be. With over 500 million monthly active users, you’ll certainly find an audience there.
The Rise Of TikTok Influencers
It’s hard to ignore the rise of TikTok. With nearly 500 million monthly active users, the platform is one of the biggest out there.
And if you’re a creative who can create compelling content, you can likely find a niche on TikTok and drive lots of engagement with your audience.
Unlike most of the other platforms on this list, TikTok is all about quick hits. The app encourages users to “share” a brief video that will quickly disappear.
So while this may frustrate some creators, it is likely what encouraged so many people to flock to the platform in the first place.
In addition to creating a more intimate setting, these videos often focus on the content itself rather than the tool used to create it.
Because of this, brands can work with influencers without having to worry about the platform changing its terms of service at any time.
The Decline Of Brand Loyalty
Now, more than ever, consumers feel empowered to research brands before buying products they love.
Although reviews and personal experience are still critical, consumers are starting to use their knowledge to learn about brands instead of solely relying on marketing and advertising to educate them.
Even if you’re not a blogger, you probably know someone who is. And, for the most part, they are happy to rely on your advice or tips. After all, you are an expert in their eyes.
You may be in trouble if you are an influencer who solely relies on brand loyalty to make money.
While your content is still important, consumers are capable of ignoring your recommendations if you aren’t providing value. This reduces the amount of “organic” traffic you receive, damaging your traffic growth.
Why Do Consumers Research Products Online Before Buying Them?
If you’re curious about why consumers are doing their research before buying a product, you don’t have to look far. Thanks to the digital deluge of the internet, consumers can access a wealth of information at their fingertips.
Trusting a brand’s claims or looking at product reviews when buying something is no longer enough.
Today, consumers can do their research online and find out all kinds of things about a brand before even stepping into a store.
Additionally, the rise of smartphones has made it possible for consumers to take high-quality pictures of products and upload them to online marketplaces like Instagram and TikTok.
These pictures give consumers a better sense of what a product looks like than what a brand’s marketing materials or a few online reviews say about it.
If you’re a business owner or brand manager, it’s important to understand what is causing the shift toward research and how you can take advantage of it.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning are major players behind this change, allowing businesses to identify and learn from previous consumer behavior automatically.
Artificial intelligence enables businesses to analyze big data and predict consumer preferences, trends, and spending based on what they know about existing customers.
With the right tools and training, AI can help businesses grow, enhance product knowledge, and ultimately improve revenue.
Machine learning improves the efficiency of human task performance.
For example, if you search for a specific product on Amazon and navigate to another page where you can find that product, you’ll see that the page has changed to match your search results.
This is because the product you are looking for is now the best match for your previous search queries and transactions.
So instead of starting from scratch every time you search for a product, the page will remember what you’ve been searching for and can provide similar content without further input from you.
Is Influencer Marketing A Fashion And Style Blog’s Sector Of Growth?
If you’re a fashion and style blog, you obviously care more about the clothes than the tools used to create them. And that’s a key reason why you’ll likely see more bloggers talk about style than content creation.
While content creation and social media platforms like Blogger and Medium grew up in the blogging world, fashion and style became prominent in the digital sphere thanks to influencers.
Thanks to these creators, brands can now market products in a way that feels personal and relatable to their audience.
According to HubSpot Blogs research, 39% of consumers want to learn about brands through blogs, while 29% want to learn about them on social media platforms, and 15% prefer to hear it from businesses directly.
As you can see, if you want to reach millennials, you’ll probably want to focus on social media. While these audiences prefer to learn about brands on social media platforms, bloggers can still play a critical role in brand awareness and establishing credibility.
What Next For Influencer Marketing?
Thanks to the rise of digital-native creators, we’re now entering a new era of online influencers. This is a good thing because it means we can choose from a wider pool of creators who can help us reach our audience.
Whether a business owner or brand manager, it’s important to remain nimble in this ever-changing digital world. To that end, you can start by closely examining your website and blog to ensure they are up-to-date and that your content is still relevant.
As for the future of influencer marketing, we can already see a shift towards more qualitative research, video content, and events. If you’re a business owner or brand manager, it’s important to keep up with the times and be ready to adapt as needed.