Influencers rely on paid partnerships with brands to earn money. They have dominated the Instagram landscape of recent years but is their leadership reaching an end?

Many articles have appeared which seem to detail this gradual reduction of influencer marketers. They discuss the reluctance of companies to collaborate with influencers, the ‘scandals’ that result in influencers losing many followers and the difficulty of influencer earning decent amounts of money for what they promote.

Will hiding like counts have been a contributing factor?

Instagram has recently tested hiding like counts in New Zealand and Australia and is now testing hiding likes in the US. ‘Likes’ make up a vital aspect of an influencers’ success as they help determine how popular a post is. Most brands doing this aim to partner with influencers with the biggest and most engaging audiences. It follows that the more likes a post has, the better it has been received. This creates a rollover affect where the more likes a post has can help result in even more likes – this is what brands want to harness for their products.

The removal of visible like counts from Instagram may lead to brands growing cautious of using influencer marketing due to the sheer lack of visible results via like counts.

Could the prolific ‘cancel culture’ add to this apparent decline?

Incredibly prevalent in the last few months is ‘cancel culture’ which in effect is fans choosing to stop supporting an influencer or celebrity, but to an extreme. When fans decide to ‘cancel’ someone it can lead to brands dropping the individuals from partnerships. With the apparent rise in stars being cancelled, it may be this has a knock-on effect to their brand partnership schemes resulting in a fall of influencer marketing. Yet another reason for brands to be wary of working with influencers.

Could real people be replaced by virtual influencers?

The influencer we know may be evolving into something new and futuristic. One report sees a rise in virtual influencers, which are computer generated ‘models’ which undergo the influencer role. These virtual influencers range from hyper-realistic to stylised fantastical type ‘people’. Could it be rather than a decline in human influences, it is a takeover of virtual influencers? This new breed of influencers may be perfect partners for brands as they remove the humanising morality that results in controversies. Virtual influencers won’t have a dodgy past to be brought to scrutiny, will not make any questionable life decisions and may not be quite as demanding as humans.

2020 will definitely be the telling of influencer marketing, with a big rise in 2019 these growing threats could cause the world of influencer marketing to seriously slow down.