Ashley Zeckman

TopRank Marketing’s 2016 Influencer Marketing Predictions

Ashley Zeckman     B2B Marketing, Influencer Marketing


This year, headlines throughout the marketing blogosphere proclaimed that influencer marketing is “the next big thing.”

At TopRank Marketing, we have been refining our influencer marketing strategy for nearly a decade. It’s our past, present, and next big thing. When done well, influencer marketing can boost brand credibility, provide valuable exposure for the brand and the influencer and create killer content your audience will love.

Now that influencer marketing has officially arrived, how will it evolve in 2016? We asked our in-house experts, and some of our favorite marketers outside the TopRank Marketing team, for their opinion. Here are the influencer marketing predictions for 2016.

Steve Rayson

Director, BuzzSumo

I think one opportunity is to build relationships with a small group of influencers (6-10) that have relatively few followers but high engagement rates. To do this find well shared content that is highly relevant to your area. Analyze who shared this content and filter those with high retweet rates (on average how many times their tweets are retweeted) but relatively few followers. Develop relationships by answering questions they ask on Twitter, sharing their content, commenting on their blogs, attending their webinars and meeting them in person if you can; and above all, ask how you can help them.

Lee Odden

CEO, TopRank Marketing

As consumers become increasingly numb to formal marketing messages and advertising, their trust in information from peers, social network connections and industry experts has increased.

A few interesting statistics about influencer marketing:

  • 84% of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral. (LinkedIn)
  • 92% of consumers rely on referrals from people they know above all else (TapInfluence)
  • 81% of those surveyed considered influencer engagement to be effective or very effective for meeting their objectives (Augure)
  • $6.85 for every $1 spent – This is the average media value earned by brands who implemented influencer marketing. (Burst Media / RhythmOne)

In 2016 I think we’ll see more brands expand their view of how to incorporate influencers as partners in content co-creation vs. simply as another promotion and advertising channel.

We’ll also see higher expectations of influencers themselves. Popularity is not influence and brands that use influencer marketing will expect more than mentions and social shares. Those influencers capable of affecting real business outcomes will become even more in demand and valuable.

To take advantage of the growing value of influencers, sophisticated marketers will begin to better distinguish between different kinds of influencers and the characteristics that make them the best match for marketing programs.

Influencer Marketing software will lead the way towards effectively identifying, qualifying, recruiting, engaging, managing and measuring influencer marketing performance. Companies that achieve higher levels of expertise with this kind of software will achieve a distinct competitive advantage in their respective industries.

Amanda Maksymiw

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Lattice Engines

Companies just getting into influencer marketing must understand that there isn’t a silver bullet or trick to overnight success. It takes time to build valuable relationships with influencers that produce results. You need to engage on social media, comment on blog posts, leave book reviews, interact in person (if possible), etc. In 2016, companies will realize that it’s the time for a less is more approach. Instead of targeting a list of influencers that is too large to manage and relying on automated tactics, marketers will focus on a smaller group so they can focus on more personalized, less automated outreach to garner big wins.

Susan Misukanis

President, TopRank Marketing

2016 will offer a prime opportunity for us marketers to move our strategies from smoldering ideas to bright and memorable initiatives. But only If we think and behave in the right way.

We’ve had clients ask us to “give them an influencer list” because penetrating influencer communities, they think, is the secret to an epic campaign.

In fact, an influencer with a solid, on topic and active community presents nothing more than an opportunity. Like a match looking at a log.

When a creative campaign ignites the influencer and community well, then meaningful participation can happen and opportunity is enhanced.

And when an influencer, their community and other stakeholders, are truly passionate about a toipic, the opportunity for a story to be passed from one social campfire to the next really heats up.

And so in 2016 we marketers will ideally learn that influencer marketing is more than “the right influencer”. It’s about relationships, community and common interest. Oh and let’s not forget a spark of creative.

To 2016. May your influencer campaigns burn as glowing examples for the rest of us to follow.

Susan Misukanis Influencer Marketing Prediction

Amy Higgins


Director of Content Marketing, Deem

Many marketers today think of influencer marketing as a campaign, or a one-off. They co-create a series of deliverables with a limited number of influencers designed to bring about a particular result. To me, this is like coloring inside the lines. I predict that beginning in 2016 marketers will learn to color outside the lines of a campaign.

As a marketer, you’d never create a single campaign that focuses on your brand’s voice. Instead, you’ll weave your brand’s  voice into any and all content that you create. By utilising influencers throughout all of your marketing efforts, you can increase your reach and engagement. So then, why do marketers still compartmentalize influencers? By not weaving influencers into all of your marketing and coloring inside the lines of a campaign, you are missing a huge opportunity for your business. In 2016, let’s color outside the lines with influencer marketing!

What Are Your Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2016?

Influencer marketing enjoyed a surge of popularity in 2015, and the best practices are sure to evolve in the coming year. At TopRank, we will continue to explore new tools, platforms and strategies to keep learning and improving.

What are your company’s influencer marketing plans for 2016? Let us know in the comments.

Want to learn more about influencer marketing? Check out our website or contact us directly and let us know how we can help.

Disclosure: Deem is a TopRank Marketing client.

Header image via Shutterstock

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.


  1. This is really good content, Ashley – just delightful to see such a range of people advocating longer-term relationship building through engagement with content! I especially like Susan Misukanis’s take, calling influential people opportunities more than straightforward marketing channels – “like a match looking for a log.” I hope that marketers aren’t too turned off by the work that’s required to build these relationships – it’s not as simple as striking a match.

    Here’s another way to look at it. Any task can be categorized in one of three ways: as an investment task, a maintenance task, or an optimization task. Investment tasks are ones where the more you put into it, the more you’re going to get out of it – potentially even exponential outcomes. Maintenance tasks are more linear in the relationship between input and output – they’re things you’ve got to keep steady at doing consistently, but you don’t want to sink too much time into them. Optimization tasks are the things you want to optimize for efficiency on, get them done with as little time and energy as needed.

    I’d argue that many marketers have looked at influencer marketing as an optimization task: something to get over with, quickly and easily, with impersonal outreach leading with an ask, paid engagement only, etc. This shift toward understanding influencer marketing as relationship building that pays off over time, though, suggests that the work be understood as at least a maintenance task, if not an investment level task. Will marketers be willing to take that step? Many are already, but many are challenged by it, feeling the need for hard-numbers ROI before investing meaningful time and energy into building relationships with the most influential thought leaders in their own market. That’s unfortunate. But round-ups like this suggest that the tide may be turning! I hope so, for all our sake.

    • As an influencer – who started a Marketing MBA but dropped out – I certainly hope the tide turns soon!!! I agree that it’s like a “match looking for a log”! Once marketers start to understand how us influencers tick, it will be like a gold mine!