3 Influencer Marketing Trends From 2020 & 3 to Look Out for in 2021

Nov 30, 2020 Hillary Hill

If you’ve scrolled through a social media feed within the past five years, chances are that you’re familiar with influencers. Influencers are content creators who have significant followings on social media that can range from 500 (nano-influencers) to more than 1M (macro-influencers) followers. This can include celebrities, public figures, bloggers, teachers, Bachelor contestants—basically anyone.

With the rise of influencer marketing, they have also become a referral source for many consumers looking for reviews, opinions, and recommendations about products and services. In fact, 49% of people rely on influencer recommendations when making a purchase. Partnering with influencers can also be an easy and cost-effective win for brands as it has an 18:1 ROI, higher than social ads, SEO/SEM, and email marketing. 

2020 has seen influencer marketing take off more than in previous years. Many marketing teams are working with reduced budgets, so the high ROI mentioned above is extra appealing. Similarly, people are spending more time online and on social media than ever before in a bid to stay entertained and connected while socially distant. This means that there are more eyes on influencers’ posts. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the influencer marketing trends that have emerged in the past year.

#1: Increase in influencers and brand activism

One of the most significant shifts in the marketing landscape to come out of 2020 has been the increase in influencer and brand activism. Many influencers have been open about the social and political issues they care about from the get-go, as it’s a natural way for them to share parts of themselves with their followers. Following the murder of George Floyd, many brands who had been hesitant to publicly support social causes like the Black Lives Matter movement reversed their stances. Lindsay Fultz, SVP of Partnerships at Whalar, told Forbes, “It’s been incredible seeing [...] influencers unafraid to lose brand deals by taking a stance. It adds an extra layer to the influencer vetting process but it's a very important layer when partnering influencers with brands — to make sure both brand and influencer viewpoints are aligned.” 

Taking a stance on social and political issues is not as large of a risk to influencers’ businesses anymore. Brands want to partner with authentic, like-minded creators who can elevate the message of what the brands stand for, and influencers want the same.

#2: Love it or hate it, TikTok is (probably) here to stay 

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has never seen a TikTok video, whether because they have the short-form video app downloaded on their mobile device or because a friend or family member sent one to them. After a tumultuous year, it appears TikTok is here to stay. 

So what does this mean for influencer marketing? A whole lot. Brands have been quick to partner up with popular creators on the app to authentically and creatively get their messages across. These partnerships are likely to pay off, as TikTok has the highest engagement rates per post of any social media platform. 

Leveraging influencers on TikTok is also a good way for brands to reach younger audiences. Influencer Marketing Hub shared that 25.8% of U.S. users are between ages 18-24. For brands that tend to skew older, TikTok presents an opportunity to revitalize and refresh their content for younger generations. The Washington Post is an example of a legacy brand that has turned one of their employees into an influencer in a bid to share news in a way that is relevant and engaging to Millennials and Gen Z. 

#3: The rise of the micro-influencer

When you hear the word “influencer,” do you think of a celebrity or pop culture figure who’s a household name? That was the case when influencer marketing first became popular. Today, many brands have moved away from this strategy and are instead partnering with micro-influencers.

According to Tribe Group, an influencer marketing platform for brands and agencies, a micro-influencer is someone with 3,000 to 100,000 social media followers. These influencers are generally very authentic and have highly engaged audiences. They also oftentimes have a content niche that they specialize in, such as fashion, travel, food, etc. Brands who want to reach niche audiences can find the micro-influencer with the exact target audience they wish to communicate with. 

Looking to 2021

We’ve talked about the influencer marketing trends that have appeared over the past year, but what does the future hold? As we look forward to 2021, we can expect to see:

#1: Influencer partnerships go long-term: Talking Influence says that, “The days of influencer marketing as a ‘one-off’ strategy are over.” Relationships take time, and that’s true when a brand is trying to build a relationship with an influencer’s audience. Partnerships will span multiple months as opposed to one-off posts or campaigns that last a couple of weeks. 

#2: Shoppable features will reveal clearer ROI: As social media platforms continue to invest in shoppable features, such as Instagram Shops, B2C brands will be able to show ROI on their influencer marketing campaigns more clearly. One of the biggest pitfalls of influencer marketing is that brands frequently have to rely on metrics like engagement rate as their KPI on these types of campaigns. This shift will also likely lead to an increase in influencer marketing spend.

#3: Storytelling and video content will continue to dominate: Video content continues to dominate on social media, rising by 100% across platforms every year. This doesn’t just apply to B2C marketing—73% of B2B marketers found that video content has a positive impact on ROI. Successful influencer marketing programs will take advantage of this trend by focusing on authentic, unedited video content as opposed to stylized videos or static images. By combining this with the trend of having more long-term influencer partnerships, brands will be able to tell powerful stories to their target audiences.

This past year has caused marketing teams to rethink how they operate, and it’s no surprise that influencer marketing has continued to grow and evolve in response. It can be a powerful and cost-effective way for brands to reach their target audiences. Determine what makes your brand unique, partner with likeminded influencers, and watch your ROI soar. 

Have questions about how to make the most of your influencer marketing program or digital marketing in general? We’re here to help! Reach out to the Inkhouse digital team at digital@inkhouse.com if you have any questions.

Topics: Influencers, Trends, marketing budgets, 2021 predictions
Hillary Hill

Hillary is a senior digital specialist managing both paid and organic social media effort for clients across varying industries. She believes that the power of social cannot be understated and that it takes time, planning, and creativity to stand out from the crowd.

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