5 hot influencer trend predictions for 2018

5 hot influencer trend predictions for 2018

2017 was the biggest year yet for influencer marketing and that trend shows no signs of halting.

According to a study by Influicity, a whopping 88 per cent of marketers ran an influencer campaign to promote a brand last year. An even larger 92 per cent believe that influencer markering is an effective strategy.

What comes next?

The study predicts that influencer marketing will change in a number of areas, including a shift in focus from certain platforms and strategies as this fragile space continues to evolve.

Indeed, changes could be afoot on YouTube following a backlash against influencer Logan Paul after he posted a video that included footage of a man who had committed suicide.

As the influencer market continues to grow rapidly and the industry evolves, we've come up with five trends we think you should keep an eye on as we head in to 2018.

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  • 1 Trust is the best ROI

    Trust is the best ROI logo

    Companies are realising that influencers come in different shapes and sizes; they're not just statistics, they're people.

    Building a relationship with an influencer is becoming way more rewarding than simply paying for potential eyes. It's all about engagement. 

    Brand awareness

    With that, brands are starting to discover that the best investment is time. While sponsored content is still alluring, many influencers will only work with a brand that is relevant to them or their fanbases' interests.

    In our interview with Overwatch Central, Ryan Horton discusses its partnership with HyperX and how that only exists because it's relevant to its own brand and viewers.

    A lot of creators are taking this approach. Selling products that don't align with fans' interests is a sure-fire way to break a bond, and influencers are starting to realise that. 

  • 2 Overwatch and mobile drive esports growth

    Overwatch and mobile drive esports growth logo

    It's been a sweet year for esports. The 2017 League of Legends World Championship did super well, with Samsung Galaxy defeating three-time world champs SK Telecom T1. 

    High flying bird

    Overwatch hit 35 million players in Q4 2017 and has proven itself to be a phenonenon in gaming, combining Blizzard's MOBA know-how with the classic FPS genre. 

    The launch of the Overwatch League will draw a lot of commerical eyes to esports and give the game further opportunity to shine.

    ESL (Electronic Sports League) member Naysayerz spoke to us last year and cited that professional players were dropping other titles to focus on Overwatch, such is its growing popularity.

    And now Twitch has signed a huge deal with Blizzard for exclusive third-party rights to the Overwatch League, influencers may see more incentive in making content around the hit game.

    Small screens, big bank

    There's a significant rise in mobile eSports too. Games like Vainglory, Clash Royale, Arena of Valor (called Honor of Kings in China, where it has made over $1 billion and generated more than 200 million downloads), and Hearthstone are proving popular with players and content creators alike.

    Mobile performance continues to improve thanks to the release of ever more powerful devices such as the iPhone X and Razer Phone that offer developers the opportunity to showcase increasingly impressive visuals, ideal for making videos and streaming.

  • 3 YouTubers jumping ship to Twitch

    YouTubers jumping ship to Twitch logo

    It hasn't been a stellar year for YouTube where creators are concerned. The platform experienced two major 'ad-pocalypses' in 2017, causing thousands of channels to be de-monetised. 

    YouTubers have been more vocal than ever about the platform's flaws. Twitch is arguably becoming the most lucrative option; it's now easier than ever to become a Twitch affiliate if you regularly stream via the platform.

    Streamers on Twitch recieve 50 per cent of all their subscriber fees, and 100 per cent of any additional donations made by fans.

    Feeling Twitchy

    That revenue is definite. There's no eternal worry that the videos you've worked long and hard to make will be immediatedly demonetised with no explaination from YouTube.

    I think a fair few YouTubers - especially those that focus on games - will start to introduce Twitch into their roster. I also think those that already dabble in Twitch will focus on building a regular streaming schedule. 

    This doesn't mean to say that creators willl completely jump ship and abandon their communities on YouTube, but I do think that in order for their craft to be sustainable, they're going to have to look.

    And a channel with 15 million daily active users is tough to ignore.

  • 4 Out with MCNs, in with Talent Agencies

    Out with MCNs, in with Talent Agencies logo

    2017 signified the beginning of the end for those big multi-channel networks. 

    MCNs were THE way to manage YouTube talent. Creators with little to no social media or business know-how had their brand managed, and the people with the skills reaped the profits. 

    Friends for life

    2017 led us in to a more specialised era of talent management. Companies like Spartan Elite and Kairos Media are providing much needed alternatives to these corporate-styled businesses. 

    They'll provide bespoke support annd services to a small roster, in order to maintain those important relationships with influencers. 

    We may see a rise in boutique influencer management agencies in 2018. There's a lot of profitable influencers that require management and a lot of managers that may want to captilise on that. 

  • 5 Crowdfunding is okay

    Crowdfunding is okay logo

    There's a little stigma around crowdfunding sites like Patreon and the newly announced Drip. 

    Launching a Patreon became the thing for creators to do to stay afloat in 2017, after two signifcant 'ad-pocalypses' caused a number of advertisers to drop out of YouTube.

    While YouTubers are still being hit with the big yellow 'unsuitable for advertisers' sign and growing increasingly frustrated with the platform, Patreon potentially offers more reliable returns.

    More money, less problems

    It's reasonably cemented now that YouTube has wotk to do figure out this wave of random demonisation hitting innocent creators.

    With that, it's completely okay for those YouTubers to set up Patreon pages so their fans can support them financially and provide a solid revenue stream.


Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.


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