The evolution of influencer marketing - The Brightest Minds series

17 Jul 2017

  • Thought leadership
  • New thinking
  • Digital Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t a new concept although you could be forgiven for thinking it is based on all the chatter about the topic. From the arrival of influencer platforms such as and Tribe to the introduction of the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ (AANA) best practice advertising guidelines, influencers have been in the spotlight of late.

Taryn Williams, Founder and CEO of, a marketplace for creative talent, says social media is largely responsible for the explosion of influencer marketing.

“Influencers have always been around,” says Williams. “Previously, it was celebrities who were considered influencers and they were mostly engaged in above-the-line campaigns. Now we're seeing a move to social media influencers and influencers from a number of different sources that have a specific authority or influence in a niche area.”

Williams’ platform,, not only connects brands to bloggers, models or personalities with authority, it also adds creatives to the equation such as photographers, hair and makeup artists and stylists. She says: “What we were seeing over the last 18-to-24 months was brands engaging content creators not just based on their skill but also based on their reach.”

The approach of engaging people with influence was once a matter of reaching out to bloggers and the like, however, it is becoming much more sophisticated with the evolution of the practice speeding up in the past 18 months. relies on artificial intelligence and algorithms to help brands find the right person for the job and it’s not always about the maximum number of eyeballs. “We've seen a move towards brands spending a lot more time on who the right influencer would be for their campaign instead of just going for someone with really great reach,” says Williams. “A brand could well end up working with someone who has a smaller reach, greater engagement and is a voice of authority in their particular sector whether that's a vet, a vegan food lover, or someone who lives in a particular geographic area.”

Brands are also getting savvier when it comes to determining the effectiveness of working with influencers. Technology is assisting businesses to track the return on their investment as well as measuring engagement from influencer relationships.

As platforms, agencies and brands fight it out over who owns the space, Williams says the introduction of the AANA guidelines late last year was a watershed moment. The guidelines suggested influencer posts be clearly identified with social posts advised to include the hashtag #ad. “It really shows it is a practice worth regulating. The industry recognises it is something brands are going to continue to spend money on. That's a positive move and a smart step in the right direction,” she says.

As for the future of influencer marketing, Williams says the area to watch will be the tools or pieces of technology made available, how brands utilise them and track their effectiveness. “We're seeing brands engaging influencers to create Instagram stories and using Snapchat for campaigns which is a whole new beast given there's really no way to clearly track investment in something that’s gone after 15 seconds,” she says.

In the meantime, Williams has her work cut out helping people to broaden their horizons about the possibilities influencers can bring to brands. “People tell us that influencers aren’t right for certain product categories such as financial services because no one wants to see a girl in a bikini selling a superannuation product,” says Williams. “You need to broaden your mindset as to what an influencer is. It's not just beautiful people on Instagram. It's much more than that. It could be a journalist or a public figure with authority doing the influencing.”

Taryn Williams is a speaker at ADMA Global Forum 2017. The successful entrepreneur will be sharing her thoughts how marketers can better understand and anticipate their customers' needs in the era of influencers.

Download's checklist for working with influencers.

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