Launchmetrics has published its fourth annual report on the state of Influencer Marketing in Fashion, Luxury & Cosmetics. The report confirms that influencers have a huge impact on the audience nowadays. Fashion brands have perceived the promotion of new collections via Instagram and other social media as ambiguous experiments. The research demonstrates that social networks are not only a place where users can express themselves but also a large-scale platform for promotion, advertising, and selling.

Nearly 80% of fashion, luxury, and cosmetic professionals in Europe and the United States implemented influencer campaigns in 2017, 13% up as compared to the previous year’s data. This means that influencers play an important role in this industry and their influence will grow further. The influencer marketing industry is gaining popularity because it offers a wide range of benefits. 90% of professionals consider influencer marketing to be effective when we speak about brand awareness. 73% say that influencers help to build customer loyalty and 69% highlight their effectiveness for boosting sales.

When industry professionals were asked with whom they prefer to work, 46% of them answered that they considered micro-influencers, with 10k-100k followers, as the most effective for their campaigns. Only 11% answered that celebrity influencers with 1.5 million followers are the most effective marketing partners. For example, COACH concluded a contract with Selena Gomez because she had too many fans. Versace, in turn, decided to choose niche influencers for certain campaigns in order to reach a more segmented audience. This means that not only stars can act as influencers; ordinary people can do the same and earn money.

The fashion industry is not the only one that cooperates with influencers. Companies like James Cosmetics (beauty industry), Lucozade (food & beverage industry), and Reebok (sportswear company) work with Emily Skye, an Instagram influencer. She is a personal trainer with 2 million followers, with whom she shares her workouts and meal plans on Instagram and YouTube. NatureBox cooperated with blogger Joanna Goddard at A Cup of Jo, who has 50k Instagram followers. The company posted three photos of Joanna’s children eating their snacks. This post got 1,200 likes and gave NatureBox credibility with some of the most-frequented mommy blogs on the Internet.

The companies prefer to work with influencers because this kind of promotion looks more natural. The Launchmetrics research shows that it’s a promising and growing market. In view of the fact that 60% of professionals plan to increase their SMM budgets in 2018, let us assume that a number of industry experts making use of software developed for influencer marketing will grow.

How can you find a right influencer? How can influencers get in touch with brands? In order to make their way to each other easier and smoother, there are various services allowing influencers to register and create their portfolios and companies to choose the most appropriate creator.

Upfluence is one of the largest platforms uniting about 1 million influencers with a total of 82 billion followers. Brands can use the database to look for influencers that comply with their particular criteria. There are also platforms operating in certain regions. For example, CastingAsia provides the companies with access to bloggers and influencers across Asia.

Some services are focused only on one channel. The task of Content BLVD is to connect companies wanting their products to be shared on YouTube. Using this service, brands can contact YouTube creators and begin fruitful work with them. YouTubers will create a video and help to promote the brand’s products.

Onalytica is one of the oldest influencer marketing platforms, launched in 2009. The company has clients such as Microsoft, Canon, VMware, and the British Heart Foundation. This platform charges a monthly subscription fee for its services, including analytics, reporting, influencer discovery, etc.

Another platform, called PATRON, offers social media influencers and brands a revolutionary and innovative way of cooperation. One difference with PATRON is that it features an emerging blockchain technology. This project aims to tokenize the influencer marketing industry and bring it to the entirely new level of operation. Brands, bloggers, and influencers will be able to work directly with each other without the interference of any intermediaries. Besides, brands will markedly reduce their operating costs and in general will be able to spend their money on marketing campaigns in a more cost-saving way. Powered by blockchain, the PATRON platform will provide a transparent, competitive, and secure marketplace, which will be appreciated by the stakeholders.

The largest social networking service, Facebook, has not stayed away, either. It is testing Branded Content Matching, the platform that will allow companies to search for influencers in order to place sponsor content in their accounts. Using Facebook’s exchange, brands will choose influencers by the targeting criteria and different statistics of their audience and then contact them for the cooperation. The exchange will work only with the Facebook influencers at the first stage.

As we see, the SMM market is growing and new platforms and services appear every day to simplify the lives of influencers and advertisers. They have different characteristics and focuses and are designed to meet every demand of their users. Any of these platforms can become a top-class instrument in the marketing of big-name brands.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

David is a professionally accredited leadership and marketing coach who works with young founders and early stage teams to help them navigate through emerging marketing opportunities with a current focus on artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Using the identification of new technological innovations that give way to different paths that can effectively reach customers, David is able to make marketing departments more effective, adaptable, and progressive.