top influencer marketing trends making waves right now
Increasing brand awareness, enhancing brand image, building a customer-brand relationship, and ultimately, driving sales: influencer marketing, done the right way, can skyrocket your business. And the specific industry has certainly matured remarkably fast over the past few years alongside constant social media developments.
Despite early concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic may have a negative impact on influencer marketing, it appears to be gaining ground. According to Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2021 Benchmark Report, 90% of survey respondents confirmed the positive impact and effectiveness of influencer marketing. And as the trend evolves and becomes an increasingly essential part of any comms campaign, it comes as little surprise that 63% of marketers expressed plans to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2021.
But while there may be more opportunity today for brands to connect with their target audience via inspiring content creators, staying one step ahead of the game can often feel like a race against time, as the industry swiftly evolves and transforms. Our team of comms experts here at Action Global Communications cut through the noise to highlight the most important trends you need to consider right now.
Social media as a platform for e-shops & influencer sponsorship opportunities
If there is one big trend that’s in the spotlight right now, it’s shoppable content. Social commerce – the process of selling products directly on social media – is growing remarkably fast. Just think of the way in which channels like Facebook, Instagram, and more recently TikTok with its new shopping feature, give users the chance to buy something that catches their eye without ever leaving the app, with e-shops seamlessly showcasing featured products and bringing their brand offerings to life. According to Facebook for business, 130 million Instagram accounts tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month. With shoppable content now a crucial part of influencer marketing campaigns, brands should focus on making the most of new influencer sponsorship opportunities, targeting the right content creators who can help directly sell your products on social media.
Shifting platforms, shifting traction, shifting influence
While Instagram continues to be the social networking platform of choice for influencer marketing campaigns, the number of brands using the platform has actually dropped from 80% in 2020 to 67% in 2021 (Influencer Marketing Hub). And as the pandemic swept over the globe, the new kid on the social media block, TikTok, became the most downloaded app of 2020 (689 million global active users recorded in January 2021). And influencers far and wide have been part of the growth frenzy, partnering with brands for sponsored posts and ads via catchy short form videos that are particularly successful with Gen Z. Hardly surprisingly, Business Insider highlights that TikTok is now the second most important platform for influencer marketing in 2021. But one of the biggest surprises has to be Twitch – the streaming platform that now ranks just behind Netflix, Apple, and Google as the fourth most popular live-streaming platform (9 million Twitch streamers in 2021 compared to 3.6 in 2019). Not just a niche gaming platform anymore, you can now find pretty much anything on Twitch from cooking to art demos. And as a brand, you can leverage the power of this growing new platform to your advantage. Most importantly, you’ll be doing something different and engaging an alternative audience before your competitors if you find the right streamers to promote your product. And you can forget about pre-recorded videos or images here; the genuine live streaming means that that the content feels far more real for your target audience.
Micro and nano influencers having a huge moment
The demand for authentic content is on the rise and consumers these days are less easily swayed by celebrities with a massive following, and far more easily inspired by individuals that they feel more familiar with that they can trust. Of course, celebrity influencers are always going to have significant power, but research highlights that it’s often micro-influencers that have the highest engagement rates. Usually focusing on a specific niche area, they are often considered valuable opinion leaders on specific subjects, be that fashion, health, beauty, or travel. The difference between micro-influencer and mega-influencer engagement rates is notable on TikTok. According to a Statista survey on the engagement rate of TikTok influencers worldwide in 2020, micro-influencers on the platform achieve engagement rates of nearly 18% while mega-influencers receive 13%. Nano influencers, on the other hand, (a relatively new breed of influencers) tend to have an even smaller following. but often share even more authentic content and may have a powerful influence over a very specific community. Teaming up with micro and nano influencers can leverage the power of strong bonds with a particular target audience while stretching that influencer marketing budget!
Video reigns supreme
It may sound like a broken record by now, but video has been, and still is, the way to go. Modern-day consumers have a very short attention span and the rising popularity of video content shows no signs of slowing down. Cisco has predicted that by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic, which is 15 times higher than in 2017. More crucial than ever in marketing and comms, a recent Biteable survey on the state of video marketing highlighted that 74% of marketers consider video to have a better return on investment than static imagery, while 68% of marketers say video has a better return on investment than Google Ads. Consumer stats are also telling: 66% of consumers indicate that they prefer to watch a short video to learn about a product or service while only 18% would rather read a text-based article, website, or post. (Elite Content Marketer). Prioritizing video content – be that demos, tutorials, interviews or reveals – over image-based content in your influencer marketing campaigns can amplify your message while building faster and more impactful bonds with your target audience. And following the introduction of Instagram Reels, Facebook’s answer to TikTok, we’re now seeing more video content being shared than ever before.
Long term partnerships & performance-based deals
One-off sponsored posts are becoming less common, as it becomes clear that even influencers with a highly engaged audience can’t achieve miracles with a single post. Naturally, brands should be looking to form extended partnerships with specific influencers for long-term projects. We recommend several posts over a period of a few months at the very minimum to really achieve maximum impact. With this, comes an increase in performance-based influencer marketing and raised expectations regarding what influencers can achieve. Brands are now creating performance-based contracts before making an investment and should expect specific deliverables (be that clicks, sales etc), while influencers are in turn working more closely with brands when planning campaigns to form the most fruitful collaborations for both parties.
The employee as influencer
Here’s one that may not immediately spring to mind when you think about influencer marketing, and that’s using your own employees as your biggest influencers or endorsers. As the micro-influencer trend picks up speed and the demand for more authentic content increases, some companies are now turning inwards. After all, no one knows your product as well as your own employees. And we’re likely to see more companies using their own employees as influencers in the near future – a trend that has long been popular with forward-thinking brands like Dell and Starbucks, tapping into the passions and loyalty of their own employees and using their staff as brand advocates. Consider employee-driven content giving audiences a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what’s going on at your company premises or sharing the cool ways that your own employees use your products or services as an alternative way of boosting brand awareness and generating leads.
Influencer marketing offers endless possibilities to increase your reach among potential customers, but all too often, brands get caught up in a series of challenges as they lose sight of crucial information, and lack the key tools and guidance to help them implement the most successful and effective influencer campaign.