Influencer marketing — a space that’s largely driven by the currency of social capital — is a booming industry that’s hit the mainstream with the ubiquity of smartphones and social media, reeling in nearly $2 billion in revenue in 2016.
The tactic is nothing new, as paid endorsements and product placements have roots dating back well before YouTube or other social channels came into play. However, it’s quickly become a key tool for marketers. Research from Bloglovin found that 32% of marketers using influencers see the tactic as essential to their overall marketing strategy, and 41% reported more success with influencer campaigns than with traditional advertising, as it often delivers 11x higher ROI.
But as significant as social influencers’ role in the marketing mix has become, it doesn’t come without its challenges like murky success metrics and the continued blurring of the line between organic and sponsored content — not to mention a growing number of examples of fraud, like a vending machine in Moscow where people can buy likes, favorites and followers for all the top social media channels with a quick swipe of their credit card.