By Pritika Matkar
Did you know, businesses are making $6.5 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing! Surprising, isn’t it? For those who have been following this marketing tactic closely, this news comes as no surprise as the return on investment in influencer marketing is soaring. According to market research, about 49% of people on social media say that they rely on recommendations from influencers while making a purchase decision.
Brands are heavily investing in influencer marketing and are actively recruiting influencers for different marketing campaigns. The investment in this marketing tactic is projected to cross $15 billion by 2022. This has made influencer marketing, the fastest-growing channel for customer acquisition.
“2021 is the year we believe influencer marketing will be seen as its own media channel outside of tactical ‘problem solving’ or ‘nice to have content’.” -Brandon Perlman, Founder and CEO, Social Studies, Inc.
With the increase in popularity, demand, and investment in this marketing domain, we can expect many new and exciting things trending this year. Before we jump into what’s to come, let’s shed some light on the trends that rocked the influencer marketing platforms in 2020.
Influencer Marketing Trends of 2020
Hobo.Video has curated a list of some top-grossing trends, that took social media and influencers by storm in 2020.
1. No more using the ‘I’ word!
An influencer is deemed as a ‘bad word’ in the world of social media since 2020.
“I don’t like to be called an influencer, it makes me feel uncomfortable when I hear it, as it seems like a BIG thing and it usually has a negative connotation, especially with social media”- Zaneb Rachid Moroccan travel blogger at The Cherry Blossom.
With the dislike for this term; a new label of ‘Creator’ has emerged as the preferred term since last year.
2. Elevated competition
There is another reason for the mega influencer veil to drop. This is because creators have now started finding other ways to get paid directly for their content, rather than monetizing their influence via paid collaboration. They are launching their series of podcasts, YouTube video series and releasing merchandise for their fans which brings in more money than the usual paid partnership.
3. The decline of celebrity influencers
The fatigue with the celebrity influencer complex and the over-privileged mega influencers is now showing on social media. Responses from the audience reveal how people feel scammed by the celebrity influencer culture and; this is why “authenticity” is now a buzz word for brand campaigns in the market.
4. Video content is the KING!
In 2019, everyone saw the rise of video content and the inclination of the creators towards video. Following the success of TikTok; Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Quibi, etc. jumped on the same format by introducing features such as short videos, and IGTV. Creators found a way to use this form of content to notable effect. From starting # challenges to creating tutorials on IGTV, videos were a more flexible way to reach the audience.
Many other trends followed the list, including-
5. It became easier to be an influencer but harder to maintain the impact as one.
6. There was a shift to a less transactional and long-term partnership with brands.
7. Sharing the same values as the brand does matter now.
8. More stringent guidelines for advertisers.
9. Brands started tapping into organic activities.
10. A shift from sales-driven campaign to social good.
What’s brewing in 2021?
Let us look at the list of trends that we think would brew this year in the influencer marketing sector.
1. Video content still reigns!
With the introduction of more video-driven platforms and Instagram Reels, one thing is for sure, video-based content is here to stay for the long run. With video being the focus point of creators now, many new platforms are emerging that showcase the video-based content. Hobo.Video has a similar concept with determination and the ability to change the face and revolutionize the face of eCommerce platforms.
“Video first always! I’ve found the more authentic, in-the-moment, and less ‘curated’ the better. It keeps viewers more engaged, and a stronger authenticity makes people feel more human and part of the action”- Elizabeth Gilmore (Instagram influencer)
2. More focus on micro and nano influencers
Since it is now established that consumers find ‘normal people’ more approachable and relatable, many micro-influencers are getting a preference over global celebrities to be the face of a brand. People have now derived a conclusion that being ‘instafamous’ or having millions of followers on the social media platform does not make a person a virtuous influencer. Brands now look for individuals established in a particular niche and create content that can persuade their followers to purchase or engage with the brand. Micro and nano influencers are more likely to give a higher ROI than a celebrity shoutout could ever give.
“Influencer marketing is a key strategy for promoting your business and products on Instagram, with micro-influencers (those with less than 100k followers) yielding great results for business” — Fohr.
One massive benefit of working with micro-influencers is that they tend to retain a higher engagement level than their top tier counterparts. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the budget of many businesses; brands are open to working with influencers who have lower rates in 2021.
“The rise of nano and micro-influencers have only begun, in 2021 we’ll see a lot of brands having micro and nano influencers do their first sponsored post”- Manu Muraro.
3. No edit Aesthetics will evolve to establish authenticity
One of the most efficient ways to build a digital community is by being authentic. This authenticity is now translated as an aesthetic trend on social media platforms such as Instagram too!
2021 will see an increase in the #nofilter trend through the participation of the bloggers and influencers. They will shift their focus from being ‘insta-perfect’ to being more authentic.
This trend will bring the use of subtle editing features and an ‘in-the-moment’ unedited peek into their lives.
“Days of perfectly manicured feed are slowly dying out. Although such feeds are beautiful to look at, they aren’t necessary to grow”- Rohini Mauk, Instagram influencer.
4. Prioritising value-driven content
Since 2020, influencers have started getting more real and personal with their followers to build a deeper connection with the audience. This has driven them to create more value-driven content for their audience. The creators have started doing Q&A’s, posting daily updates on life, sharing relatable memes, and showing off their non-glamorous side.
As the Instagram influencer, Rohini Mauk says-
“Now more than ever, people want to see your authentic self! I think providing some type of content that shows your real-life personality is the key to growing your online presence these days.”
Businesses also take into account the creator’s authenticity these days while scouting for influencers for their brand campaigns. They don’t focus totally on the numbers, instead, the brands look for the quality of connection that influencers have with their audience. Signing an influencer that is not fit for a brand may create a negative impact. In 2021, brands would be more careful about whom they collaborate with. The influencers they choose must be respectable, reputable and must share the same values as the brand.
5. Focus on long-term partnerships
In the coming months, influencers are set to become the real brand partners as their relationships start to extend over a while. Brands have come to realize that just one shoutout post isn’t enough to capture the audiences’ attention, it takes at least 6 to 8 touches to finally make a sale. Building trust and commitment are the keys to reach the target audience. In 2021, brands are targeting a collaboration of at least 10x posts across all the social media channels of the influencers over some time.
“I think this will help the influencers who are promoting the products, make the content feel more specific. I think brands are going to invest in long term collaborations with the influencers.” Elizabeth Gilmore Instagram influencer
6. More stringent and changing guidelines for influencers
From the time that influencers became the highlight of digital marketing, the influencer marketing space has been vexed by the allegations of influencers misleading the consumers or fabricating the statistics to cheat the brands.
Let’s take an example of the Diclegis x Kim Kardashian promotion campaign. When Kim posted about Diclegis- a medicinal drug used to treat the morning sickness, she left out the part that talks about the harmful effects of the drugs. The criticism was canonical, and even the U.S. FDA got involved. The beauty mogul was quick to take down the post and put another one with a detailed description of the risks as a damage control over the issue.
Incidents like this have called for the marketers to come up with more stringent guidelines when collaborating with the influencers. The FTC has also issued warnings to those influencers who are not transparent with their endorsements.
According to current FTC guidelines, influencers must use hashtags like #sponsored or #ad for all partnered posts.
In the coming years, as the emphasis shifts to more customer-centric marketing, the trend of rigid policies on influencer marketing is likely to endure.
7. Focus on diversity and inclusion
“Representation matters, as it inspires and can change the way people see themselves, and how they see your brand.” -Sashagai Ruddok Entrepreneur, content creator.
The increase in social activism in the last few years cast a spotlight on the lack of diversity and inequality in the influencer marketing industry. There were instances of discrimination faced by POC content creators.
Many brands were held accountable for unfair pay and many influencers and activists became vocal about this problem and how there was a need to have more representation in influencer marketing.
In 2021, the brands would put more efforts into inclusion and representation by creating campaigns to drive this change effectively.
“It is not enough to cast diversity and inclusion, it needs to be built in the fabric of the brand.” Larry Milstein PRZM co-founder
8. A rise in the use of new social media platforms and creator tools
2021 is going to be the year of experimenting, monetizing and telling stories through the content on newer platforms. There is going to be a rise in new influencer platforms and advanced Instagram tools that will give the influencers, more creative power than ever!
With Video content in the royalty, platforms such as TikTok would flourish this year. Hobo.Video is also set to launch a video-driven eCommerce platform app soon! This platform will give the creators the freedom to present their content in the most relatable forms and to the sellers, an opportunity to give a glimpse of actual and authentic products to the potential customers.
A new and more innovative set of tools is also set to launch as revealed by Instagram. These tools would be an effective update to the branded content capacities of Instagram. As disclosed by Instagram, these tools will make it easier for the creators and brands to produce, share and magnify the branded content.
9. CGI influencers in the spotlight
Yes, you heard it correct! CGI influencers are the new ‘in-thing’ in the market.
One of the most significant trends in influencer marketing involves the influencers that aren’t even human. With the rise in controversies about the inauthenticity of influencers, brands did not want to bear the loss of partnership gone wrong. Hence, they came up with the concept of using CGI (Computer Generated Graphics) influencers.
Time to say hi to the CGI influencers!
These life-like Instagrammers are in hot demand. One of the most popular CGI stars- Lil Miquela already has a collaboration with huge brands such as Prada, Diesel, and UGG. She has around 2.8 million followers on Instagram.
This futuristic marketing technique does not only appeal to the younger audience but also give brands a total individuality over the created content.
Time for a Wrap-up
From video content creation to podcasts, to artificial intelligence; from the rise of new influencer marketing platforms to popularising CGI influencers, these are the top influencer marketing trends to look forward to in 2021.
The focus is shifting to micro-influencers and the need for representation in the industry. People of colour would get more opportunities for collaboration, and so would the people with different body sizes.
Perhaps, this is the year where you, as an influencer, need to work on aligning your values with brands you wish to work with and produce authentic content. Make sure that you are in sync with the ever-changing trends of influencer marketing!