As lockdowns, working from home and social distancing continue, and almost every social media platform reporting an increase in users since the start of the pandemic, the amount of advertising money that is being redirected from offline to online will continue to grow.
Over the past couple of years, the industry has matured exponentially, with the introduction of new and emerging social platforms like TikTok and Triller which has allowed businesses to target consumers in a new manner, with marketers now spending across multiple platforms to reach consumers where they are.
As the industry continues to emerge as a mainstream marketing channel, there remains plenty of reason to be positive about the future of influencer marketing strategies beyond 2021. So what do we see as some of the shifting trends this year? Read more for our thoughts….
FROM SHORT FORM VIDEO TO CELEBRITY INFLUENCERS INFLUENCER MARKETING SPEND WILL CONTINUE TO GROW GLOBALLY
Influencer marketing is an industry estimated to be worth $15 billion by 2022, almost double its value in 2019 ($8 billion). Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy, our recent whitepaper study indicated positivity, highlighting the industry’s resilience and continued growth despite the global economic downturn.
Marketers are increasingly putting their faith and budgets in multi-channel influencer campaigns (often including macro-influencers, micro-influencers and nano-influencers alike) and seeing the value in their creative content. Not only that, but it’s clear that creative influencer talent is breaking ‘into the mainstream’: providing authentic reflections of the values and principles that consumers hold as well as making forays into the broader marketing and advertising channel mix with higher engagement levels than other mediums.
With signs that the ‘new normal’ is to embrace the uncertainty, brands and advertisers will continue to share their message to their target audiences online, where advertisers can authentically connect with their audiences through influencer marketing, something that is set to continue to grow significantly.
According to our research, almost three-quarters of all marketers (73%) are now allocating a greater proportion of their resources to influencer marketing than they were a year ago. Marketers’ rising confidence in influencer marketing is increasingly seeing them explore additional channels for this activity.
This year at TAKUMI, we have continued to witness the growth in popularity of multi-platform marketing campaigns. Adopting this approach allows brands to reach new audiences who are active on each of the platforms and in different ways using the various content types they each support.
With engagement rate often increasing, influencer marketing is one of the most promising segments of the digital marketing mix and a sector we will continue to see thrive globally throughout 2021.
TAKING A STAND ON SOCIAL: DIVERSITY MUST BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
Conversations around diversity within the industry have become increasingly urgent, with influencers across the globe (especially in the UK and US) extremely aware that issues surrounding diversity in brand partnerships must be addressed if influencer marketing is going to thrive — and continue to be the relatable reflection of real-life that consumers want.
Our 2020 whitepaper found that over half of UK and US respondents (56.6% and 57.3% respectively), and exactly 50% of German respondents ranked diversity within campaigns as a principal issue that needs to be considered by marketers moving forward.
By partnering with the right creators and listening to what they have to say, every brand has a better chance of sharing the kind of diverse messaging that both help our society and drives consumer action.
If we all do our part and take steps in the right direction, we’ll see the change that more and more consumers have been asking for.
INFLUENCER MARKETING PLATFORMS & ATTRIBUTION
Marketers have been tracking attribution for owned and paid media for years. With the rise of social media and influencer marketing, without the right tools to show how influencer marketing affects revenue, it can be hard to properly manage.
To review and track influencer marketing attribution, there are multiple metrics to consider and elevate. If attribution is measured within this space it will mean brands are more likely to continue with implementing this strategy.
Just looking at vanity metrics, such as the number of comments or link shares, won’t helpfully gauge the success of campaigns. Brands will be expected to delve into the nitty-gritty details. In 2021, the influencer marketing industry must address its standards around measurement to ensure it delivers on objectives, and with the right platform, brands will be able to make smarter decisions and ensure they’re getting the most out of their budgets.
In the context of influencer marketing, brand safety refers to the effort to safeguard advertising brands by avoiding association with influencers who participate in influencer fraud, have done some condemnable actions, or not led by example.
Marketers have been met with challenges beyond impressions and conversion rates. Trust and transparency root brands in consumerism, so it makes sense that brands would prioritise protecting their brand.
Over the years we have seen high profile influencers and celebrities ‘‘cancelled’’ in an act of social punishment. For example, Rita Ora, who recently made headlines in the UK for breaking Covid lockdown rules, was dragged into the helm of getting cancelled across social media and dropped by on-going brand collaborations.
This year we have seen an increase in brands wanting a tighter brief in particular vetting influencers they partner with to make sure they are following the current government lockdown guidelines and not flouting or breaching any rules.
By brands working with influencers who are acting irresponsibly, they could potentially be viewed by the public as endorsing their actions.
In the past, we’ve seen brands walk away from talent who have been snapped endorsing other competitors, and in today’s world, we are seeing brands walk away from influencers and celebrities for their actions.
Going forward we will see even more brands placing a heightened focus on their brand ambassadors, as it is viewed more than ever, that brands are acting responsibly and seen to be doing the right thing.
CONSUMERS WILL CONTINUE TO CRAVE AUTHENTIC CONTENT
Last year TikTok exploded onto the scene and rapidly claimed the crown of the world’s most downloaded app. The app which is considered more creative, escapist, and entertaining than Instagram, has witnessed incredible growth due to its fun, relatable, and easily digestible format.
The emergence of this key player in the social media space has shown a shift towards authentic marketing.
We have seen brands and marketers pivot their marketing strategies to include the likes of TikTok, and meeting consumers where they are. The shift towards authentic marketing also represents an emerging trend in which consumers are choosing to buy from companies that share their moral, social, and political beliefs.
Our research shows that 56% of marketers think influencers communicate better about political and social issues than brands. Consumers have a lot of trust in the influencers they follow, making them ideal for sharing key messages during difficult times.
During the pandemic, TAKUMI partnered with the World Health Organisation, where influencers joined the global #SafeHands initiative to raise awareness of the protection measures against COVID-19. Given the fear and uncertainty, consumers were craving information on both essential goods and services that they can rely on, as well as factual content and best practices to help stave the spread of COVID-19.
The takeaway here is that influencers are being tapped into a way to deliver important messaging and that authenticity is one of the core principles to follow when creating relevant content.
It’s no secret influencers have always been integral at portraying authentic and key brand messages, however, what we are seeing is the events unfolding in the world since the beginning of 2020, which means that there is simply not much room for traditional advertising anymore.
STRICTER DATA PRIVACY ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Despite the recent controversy around TikTok in the US, with Trump threatening to ban the app and CEO Kevin Mayer leaving his position after just two months, consumer perceptions of TikTok are still positive overall in the long run.
TikTok is likely to establish itself as a facilitator of long-term brand-influencer relationships but must address the lingering concerns around its algorithms and focus on data privacy, a topic that has recently dominated the mainstream news agenda.
Our recent research showed desire concerns, the majority of marketers perceive online advertising to be the most data secure channel (15.5%), followed by print or billboard adverts (14.0%), TV advertising and YouTube (13.5), Instagram (11.1%), with TikTok bringing up the rear at 5.6%. Data privacy is recognised by influencers as a growing concern across the industry. Over a third, (34.6%) of UK influencers believe data privacy is a fundamental issue that needs to be tackled. 27.9% of US influencers and 23.1% of German influencers agree.
Data privacy is an ongoing and industry-wide issue that the sector is facing as a result of new technology rapidly propelling social media growth — and platforms must take responsibility for the online safety of their users, especially with user-generated content being a key source.
All social media platforms must be held to account, such rigorous questioning of their data handling is healthy and necessary for the industry.
Transparency is more important than ever both for consumers and businesses who want to operate in a safe environment.
Along with the digital development within influencer marketing, a trend we see continuing to grow is ‘exclusive’ collaborations with brands and influencers as they seek longer-term partnerships. The days of influencer marketing as a ‘‘one-off’’ strategy are over. Influencers will increasingly be contracted on an ongoing basis to boost brand loyalty and attention.
Consistent with last year’s research, consumers still say they’d most like to see more influencer transparency around commercial relationships with brands — almost a third (32.6%) of consumers surveyed across the three markets agree.
Rather than switching between influencers for different campaigns, brands, and influencers working on a more ‘exclusive’ collaborative approach will be well received by followers and reinforce the authenticity of the collaboration.
This year TAKUMI launched the TAKUMI Female Collective and TAKUMI X, which are designed to connect with brands with purpose-driven influencers on a longer-term basis.
To establish successful long-term relationships, which inevitably pique consumer interest and lead to higher levels of engagement and campaign success, marketers and influencers must consider each other’s priorities.
CONCLUSION & FUTURE INFLUENCER MARKETING TRENDS
Looking at the next year ahead, increasingly influencer marketing is on the public’s radar beyond just for Millennials & Gen Z, audiences of all ages are involved, and consumers overwhelmingly believe influencers have become compelling communicators, challenging household names and journalists alike. Most brand awareness strategies will start with campaigns such as as influencer content and video content.
As a result, influencer marketing budgets for ads and sponsorship have continued to grow, with marketers shifting resources towards emerging social media channels that are providing competition for legacy platforms. Digital consumption is at its peak and will continue to do so, and brands are excited to tap into new and engaged audiences who are active across each of the various platforms.
Content creators have reached the mainstream, and are making waves in terms of consumer trust, which is increasing in tandem with the growth of the industry. As a result, content marketing teams, along with overall marketers and influencers must be prepared to tackle the spread of misinformation. As with last year’s research, consumers still value trust and authenticity — it has become a base-level requirement for any influencer who wants to be taken seriously.
Like content creation overall, influencer marketing is evolving at an exponential rate. As brands, Instagram influencers and content creators continue to adapt to meet consumer appetite, the future of the industry looks to be unstoppable. To find out more, contact Takumi today.”,