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Kate Ogata for Rothy's

It’s that transitional time...summer’s not completely over, but everyone's busy planning for holiday 2019 and building out 2020 budgets. Across the board, we’re seeing brands investing more and more in influencer marketing, and the stakes are getting higher. For example, Estée Lauder recently shared that 75% of its marketing dollars are going to digital—and that spend is heavily allocated to influencers.

With so much influencer marketing landing in customers’ feeds, innovation is essential. We hope this trend analysis serves as food for thought and a glimpse of what’s to come. ✌️

01: Beyond Content Collaborations

Here’s a new trend to keep an eye on: Influencer marketing is converging with affiliate marketing and blurring the lines of employee engagement programs. 🔀

Adidas is enabling sneakerheads from its Creators Club to earn commission through its partnership with social commerce app Storr. Fast Company says that “social influence is becoming social selling” or as Storr refers to it, “the ultimate side hustle.” Conversely, H&M has opted for a homegrown approach to cultivating its own bench of influencers. Fifteen stylish salespeople are participating in “H&M Insiders”—a year-long content creation program that complements the brand’s external influencer activities.

Takeaway: Whether incubating talent or innovating with a grassroots salesforce, programs like these and our eos “flavor lab” campaign put influencers at the center of the strategy.

Read on: Fast Company / Retail Touchpoints / Collectively

02: Doubling Down on Direct Messaging

Instagram appears to be making strides to continue improving the app’s user experience. Jane M. Wong—the seriously talented hacker who reverse-engineers social platforms to spot what’s next—discovered that it looks like Layouts will come to Stories, and we can expect new Boomerang modes soon 🔮 (play with the demo she spun up).

Casey Newton of The Verge broke a story about Instagram’s new messaging app called Threads. This companion app appears to represent the company’s latest effort to ward off Snapchat and make good on Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of a social future centered on private messaging between close friends.

Takeaway: The growing emphasis on more fleeting visual formats like Stories and an overall product evolution toward more 1:1 engagement may shift influencer campaign performance and increase the importance of metrics with a longer shelf life (like saves).

Read on: Jane M. Wong / The Verge / Later

03: #Sponsored = Status?

According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, disclosures like #ad and #sponsored do not negatively impact influencers’ recommendations (particularly when it comes to purchase intent!). The research determined that paid sponsorships signal competence and professionalism—earning the trust of viewers who crave transparency. This data brings new light to an article by The Atlantic about a trend where creators fake brand deals to appear more legitimate.

Takeaways: Vague hashtags like “#partner” employed by brands looking to procure more authentic influencer outcomes are not only in violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s endorsement guidelines—they’re operating off of outdated assumptions. Embrace #ad!

Read on: Harvard Business Review / The Atlantic

Additional Reads

  • Facebook confirmed it may also hide like counts. Will not getting likes de-incentivize people to stay when relevance is already eroding? (TechCrunch)
  • Pinterest dropped its “September Issue” equivalent. Expect blunt haircuts (+121%), cooking with smokers (+638%) and canned cocktails (+92%) to trend through the fall and into the holiday season. (Pinterest)
  • The elderly find comfort and community streaming gameplay on Twitch. (NBC News)
  • The $3M purchase of Tumblr by WordPress' parent company triggers memories of best/worst $1B acquisitions. (Pivot ep. #47 at 17:30)