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The Evolution of Influence Marketing

23 Feb 2018 11:19 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

By:  Jim Matorin, Business Catalyst at SMARTKETING: Tech-friendly pragmatist that specializes in innovation and revitalizing businesses.


Candidly it is getting difficult to keep pace with the evolution of influence marketing.  At the end of last year, I wrote an influence marketing post for the SMRA titled Brand Advocacy 101 https://smra-global.org/news/5605987.  I emphasized the importance of employing monitoring tools to identify socially active individuals (a.k.a. brand advocates) who have influence over your brand’s potential buyers.  The good news, there has been an increase in the investment/utilization of engagement monitoring tools – currently 45% in total versus 36% of companies and 32% of agencies surveyed in 2016 (source: Celebrity Intelligence).  However, once influencers are identified, marketers continue to debate on whether is it better to use macro or micro influencers.  Macro influencers are categorized as celebrities with massive, millions of followers, while micro influencers are everyday consumers who have significant social media followings (1,000 to 100,000) they engage deeply with on a regular basis.    

As I stated earlier, thanks to the daily overload of influence marketing content, I am struggling identifying the exact profile of a clear-cut influencer – size of following, level of engagement, authentic content, etc.  However, as February ends, I just learned the world of influence marketing continues to morph thanks to some new trends.  Two trends to pay attention to are as follows:

  • ·Virtual Influencers – Meet Miquela Sousa, Instagram handle LilMiquela, L.A. model of Brazilian decent, an Instagram “fashionista” with 605,000 followers.  She posts daily about designer outfits, as well as social and political issues (e.g., Black Lives Matter, DACA, etc.).  Here is the catch.  She is not real, she is the computer-animated Instagram invention of unknown digital artists/animators who have made it clear she is virtual and not affiliated with any brands.  Followers like her candor, authentic content, in comparison to real influencers they perceive as scam artists.  Consequently, brands are beginning to recognize the benefit of partnering with virtual influencers in the future since consumers view them as being transparent. 
  • ·UGC Movements –  User generated content according to Adweek (85% of survey respondents) is more influential than content developed by brands directly.  A good example was Tourism Australia recognizing people enjoy sharing their vacation photos on social media (#SeeAustralia).  They jumped on the bandwagon and began engaging directly with Australian visitors, as well as wannabee visitors.  Then they implemented a selfie movement (UGC) that resulted in positive website metrics – increased engagement (+30%) and time spent (+66%). 

Stay tuned.  Influencer marketing probably continued to change even as I write this post.  I will be back soon with an update.


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