| Mar 18, 2021

5 Influencer Marketing Trends: What to Expect This Year

With a continuous growth in social media comes a rise of social media influencers. As tens of thousands of influencers are signing up to be full-time content creators, brands are their best friends and partners on the journey. Here are 5 trends to follow from a brand's perspective here.
By Christian Brown
Contributor

Co-Founder & CMO, The Glew

Christian Brown is the Co-Founder and CMO of The Glew, where Brands and Creators connect, collaborate, and execute brand deals. view profile

As we continue to progress through the digital era, people are spending more and more time consuming content online. We’ve all fallen victim to it — the mindless scrolling and lackadaisical feed browsing, especially during the past year spent quarantining. But, while many traditional forms of marketing have become outdated, new forms like digital marketing saw spikes of emergence. People are turning to streaming services over cable, digital publications over print newspaper, and social media has begun replacing print advertising. 

The industry has grown exponentially in the past years. With new social media platforms being introduced like TikTok, Dispo, and ClubHouse — there are thousands of new influential voices emerging each day. Each platform offers the purpose of entertainment and creativity for creators and viewers, but it also offers the ability for marketers to get in front of new audiences in new, innovative ways. 

Brands have been identifying these opportunities in the marketplace and using them to their advantage. Influencers are being paid to deliver brand messages to their followers, introduce new products to the market, and even merge in large partnership deals with global companies. The main reason being that people don’t care for strategically placed ads that interrupt their scrolling sessions, they care to hear the voice of someone they trust give a good review about a product they enjoy

To aid in mapping out various strategies and influencer marketing tricks to know, brands can get ahead of the curve and start thinking about influencer marketing for their next digital marketing campaign. 

These will help you generate new strategic marketing ideas that can bring in new impressions, website clicks, sales, and brand recognition for minimal costs through 2021 and beyond. 

1. The Rise Of Micro-Influencers 

Micro influencers are social media creators who have much smaller followings than the Kylie Jenners, Garry Vees, and Kim Kardashians of the world. These creators often have less followers and a higher engagement rate, since the followers are more connected to the influencer. While there is no concrete criteria that defines a creators’ status, most micro influencers start having influential say over their following when they generate 10,000 followers across social platforms

As of now, most companies are not looking to micro influencers to spread their messages. Large brands often think investing a large sum of marketing dollars into a single large influencer will get the job done. But, there are many flaws in this ideology. As creators get more followers, their average engagement rate begins to decrease. More followers does not always mean more direct prospects to market to. With growth comes diversification, which leads to large-scale creators marketing products to the wrong demographic in some cases. 

Micro influencers are great investments for small and local companies because they typically have more age, location, and interest-based followings. With these smaller followings comes a smaller price tag, too. Imagine being able to pay 5 smaller creators in your area to market your product to a locally based following compared to 1 larger creator marketing to their nationwide followers. Which would you think would return your investment better? 

These smaller-sized creators are going to gain large notoriety this year as they are deployed by smaller-sized brands and local companies worldwide. Remember, it’s all about marketing to a demographic that is going to generate sales for your company. 

2. Speaking Up For The Values Of The Company   

We are living in an era where the voice of the people holds more weight than the headlines do. With all of the events that occurred during 2020, activists worldwide turned to social media to spread their words. With that came a shift in how consumers looked at companies, brands, and businesses alike. When brands stayed silent the consumers felt as if they didn’t care to be a part of the conversation. As brands spoke up for values they believed in, consumers felt more aligned with the company. 

After a year of many moments, consumers nationwide have turned to brands that align with their values. There are ongoing lists of brands who speak up for advocacy and large followings who gravitate towards these brands because of the comfort the brand brings the consumer. 

As we move forward, it is projected that brands who speak up for their core values and stand up for what they believe in will grow a better bond with customers alike. By showing the core values of the company online and crafting PR messages, social posts, and statements that show a brands’ standpoint on certain issues, followers of that brand will feel a greater connection to the brand identity and products. Deploying influencers to do this for you can be a great way to show your true colors through the voice of a well-respected creator in the community. 

Staying true to what a brand represents is quintessential, especially in today’s age. Instead of being left out of the conversation, think of ways to be at the forefront of it, pioneering it from the voice of your company. 

3. Turn Your Customers and Employees into Influencers 

Who likes your product the most? Who trusts the vision of the brand and the experience the product brings them? Who works for your brand to generate revenue and spread word of mouth? First, it is your employees, then it is your customers. 

No one knows your business better than those who work for it, and no one trusts the products more than those who buy them. As the marketing industry is becoming more innovative, so must your ways of spreading your messages. Brands have started using the voices of customers and employees to increase and improve brand awareness and visibility. 

Encourage your employees and customers to participate in brand campaigns by using specific hashtags, posting photos of the products, and giving online reviews. If customers already enjoy your product, chances are they will speak highly of it. 

You can create certain incentive initiatives such as sending discounts, first notice of new deals, and promotional items to users who post on social media using the hashtags. This way, they feel as if they’ve been rewarded for sharing their experiences. In the meantime, you’re just keeping them connected with the brand, expanding their customer journey, and gaining free exposure in the process. 

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4. Don’t Discredit Video 

Think about how often a user spends scrolling through their phone on a daily basis. There is so much content they pass by. What often catches their eye and disrupts their scroll is video content

With the growth in TikTok and replica releases of short-form video content such as Instagram Reels, users are spending more time-consuming video content than ever before. Big brands have already taken to TikTok and Instagram Reels to get their message across. Most of this is done through influencers on the platform. 

Influencers can do a great deal of work on TikTok that they can’t do just by posting a photo on Instagram and tagging your brand. With the use of audio, popular dance trends, and the ability to create content up to one minute long there is a lot of opportunity for creativity here. 

The best part of deploying influencers to create video content is that many times viewers don’t think that the posts are directly paid for by the brand. Yes, there can be the #ad in the bio, but if it catches the attention of the viewer it counts as a new impression for the brand. 

Brands are going to continue to move towards catchy, unique video content to include in their marketing campaigns and it is never going to be a bad thing to add to your drawing board. 

5. Expect More Long Term Relationships 

Influencer marketing has begun to move away from the ‘one-off’ approach that it was once built on. No longer are brands looking to pay creators (both small and large) to post once about a product and move on to the next. Long term contracts and deals have proven to work well for influencers because it allows them to build the brand into their personal social media identity. 

Moving forward it is expected that brands will continue to test various influencers in one-and-done campaign styles, but then go on to create long-term relationships with the influencers that work the best for their brand. This has worked well for companies like SeatGeek who use the voice of YouTube personality David Dobrik to give away free Tesla cars on their behalf or Dunkin’ Donuts who is releasing their second drink of the year with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio.  

These longer contracts that brands have with influencers give the creator a sense of security knowing that they have a steady income stream from the brand and that they have time to craft the voice of the brand into their own message. This way, when a consumer hears the creator talk about a brand enough times, they start to think of that creator when they see the brand logo somewhere or purchase from them. Many times creators actually promote a discount code to their followers to gamify the purchase process. 

Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere, and in our eyes, it is the 2021 version of billboard advertising. No matter what size your company is, there are online creators out there with followers who are actually looking to learn about new products and services from their favorite social media accounts. Don’t fall behind on the feed, fall out of the conversation, or be forgotten about. Grab a marker and put influencer marketing on the top of your idea board for your next digital marketing campaign. 

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