Get equipped for planning your influencer marketing campaigns for 2021 with new insights into the trends shaping the future of the industry. Planning ahead might seem like an impossible task right now, but rest assured that the 6 trends we’ve identified will be key to successful campaigns in 2021 and beyond. Understand how the influencer marketing industry is changing and get tips on how to future-proof your up-coming influencer campaigns.
1. Investment in influencer marketing will continue as the industry matures
The proven results of influencer marketing mean marketers will continue to invest strongly in the channel. Brands are expected to spend $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022 according to Business Insider. Over the past year, consumers have increasingly embraced digital technologies to plan, organize, and shop for every aspect of their lives, from essential grocery shopping, to work and downtime. The growth of eCommerce shopping and social commerce brings new opportunities for brands to reach online audiences through social media influencers. In fact, respondents to a recent McKinsey survey are three times more likely to say that 80% of their brand interactions happen online. Influencer marketing will be a key channel for capitalizing on the consumer shift towards digital technologies and social media.
2. Niche and specialist influencers will lead the way
As brands and agencies have experimented with influencer marketing the understanding of influencer performance has changed. In a context where a high ROI is key, vanity metrics such as number of followers or engagement rate are becoming less important. Now more than ever, brands are looking for influencers who can drive conversions directly related to sales. The move away from hiring mega-influencers has opened up the industry to many more types of influencers, from micro-influencers to pico and nano influencers who are holding their own. With the proliferation of influencer niches, there’s even more choice for brands. In order to leverage online audiences for sales, brands should work with specialist influencers instead of generic, catch-all influencers. Influencers with smaller audiences are not only more affordable than their mega-influencer counterparts but have a stronger connection thus driving higher conversions among their followers.
“The advent of micro, nano, and pico influencers, means brands should work with a larger volume of smaller influencers for higher ROI” Upfluence CEO, Vivien Garnès.
3. Authentic partnerships = successful campaigns
The level of authenticity in brand and influencer collaborations is a powerful predictor of how successful campaigns will be. Influencer marketing is based on human connection and relatable content that genuinely interests influencers and their audience. The reality is that inauthentic content hurts everyone. Inauthentic partnerships don’t yield results for brands when campaigns fail to resonate with the right audience. Influencers who saturate their feed with sponsored content or posts that feel too commercial will lose engagement from their audience, weakening their reputation overall.
But there are some easy ways to avoid falling into the trap of inauthentic content. Influencer selection is crucial, and looking for influencers with a natural affinity with your brand is essential. You want to collaborate with influencers who are genuine champions of your brand and your products, which will help them communicate about your business in an authentic way.
Check out our three top tips for producing authentic influencer content:
- Activate your customers as ambassadors!
Your customers already love your brand and have real-life experience using your products. Offer them an incentive to become ambassadors for your brand and leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing to promote your brand to their friends, family, and followers.
- Give influencers creative control.
Whilst it might be tempting to try and control every single aspect of your influencer campaign, remember that influencers are creators at heart and they know best what content will work well with their audience. Be sure to equip them with everything they need to know about your brand and your message and leave the rest up to them!
- Use key metrics to detect fraudulent behavior.
Influencer marketing software such as Upfluence provides key data to help brands and agencies choose the most authentic creators. With metrics such as % of real followers, engagement rates, and saturation rates for each influencer, brands can quickly identify those tell-tale signs of inauthenticity.
4. Nurture long-term partnerships for the best results
It’s smart for brands to plan their influencer marketing campaigns around long-term partnerships. In order to efficiently use resources and ensure long-term revenue generation, invest time and effort into identifying your brand’s best-performing influencers. Then activate them across long-term or repeating campaigns to drive awareness and sales for your brand. If you’re just starting out with influencer marketing use your first campaign to test out a variety of influencers. Analyze which influencers generated the most engagements and conversions. Ask yourself which influencers totally got the brief and were able to deliver results? Use this first evaluation to shortlist your top influencers to work with again in the future.
If you already have a cohort of influencers, it’s time to take a deep dive into their performance metrics to see which influencers you should be partnering with again in 2021.
The key to nurturing long-term partnerships is not only about finding influencers that are the right fit in terms of audience and niche, it’s about incentivizing them as brand ambassadors. A revenue-sharing model is a great way to align everyone’s interests and collaborate over an extended period. This would involve influencers using affiliate links to promote sales, and in turn earning a percentage of the profits based on the number of sales they generate. Therefore the brand and the influencer are equally invested in the success of the campaign. An affiliate program lowers the risk for brands starting out with new influencers as they pay according to performance. For influencers, it also increases their return when compared to fixed-price or product-only incentives.
5. Data insights and machine learning will boost efficiency
Data insights about consumers will empower brands to make informed marketing decisions, and create highly targeted campaigns. Data on demographic, social performance, and purchase behavior will transform influencer identification, helping brands to pin-point the best-performing influencers for their brand and target audience. Understanding consumer behavior and who is influential in your brand community is the first step to more effective campaign planning. Get ahead of the trend for data-driven marketing strategies with our tips on boosting marketing with powerful consumer data.
Machine learning and automation will be driving the industry forward, helping brands to scale their influencer marketing efforts. Technological advancements will maximize efficiency by automating outreach and campaign management processes. Advances in AI will bring new opportunities for intelligent influencer matching based on lookalike profile data and much more.
6. Video is the most powerful content format
We’ve seen video take the lead as the most popular content format on the web. Whether it be YouTube tutorials, news clips, gifs, Instagram Stories, or viral TikToks, video content is everywhere. It’s supported by every social media platform, offering boundless opportunities to inform and entertain. YouTube has 2 billion monthly average users, and the newest platform, TikTok will reach 1.2B users this year, showing our appetite for creating and consuming video content is far from waning. Brands should look to integrate video formats into their influencer campaigns and general content marketing. Learn more about how to embrace video formats in your 2021 strategy in our recent post.
Stay ahead of the curve in influencer marketing by adapting your strategy to these new trends for 2021 and beyond. Building long-term partnerships based on authenticity and leveraging data and video content will ensure your campaigns continue to deliver results across the changing landscape of influencer marketing.