Influencer Marketing in the Pandemic Era
Our new Whitepaper brings the Influencer Marketing industry into focus through a post-pandemic lens, for a refined picture of how it has changed and a clear look at where it is headed.
Since its humble beginnings, Influencer Marketing has grown exponentially from an industry worth $1.7 billion in 2016 to nearly $14 billion in 2021. Thriving in the face of a global pandemic, it was the only marketing channel not to decrease in effectiveness for conversion since the start of COVID-19. With the help of ever-improving eCommerce functionalities and dedicated tools for creators on social media platforms, Influencer Marketing is poised for another year of transformation and growth.
This year, a multi-platform approach will become more critical than ever with users growing increasingly active and engaged on multiple channels. Brands are catching on to the importance of targeting consumers at every base, which allows for an enhanced brand experience and higher conversion rates. This approach can be bolstered by working with influencers on a long-term basis, which helps to ensure that brands’ influencer marketing content reflects consumers’ appetite for authenticity. Establishing partnerships for the long-haul isn’t just a greater investment of time and money, they also demonstrate shared values and real commitment between creators and brands, which further helps to build trust with consumers. According to our Whitepaper research, 48% of marketers said that building strong, long-term partnerships is their top priority when working with influencers, emphasising the benefits of well-established relationships.
Social and eCommerce boomed in 2021, with platforms rolling out in-app shopping functions and store integrations throughout the year. TAKUMI’s recent Whitepaper report found that nearly three fifths (59%) of marketers are using more e-commerce tools in their influencer marketing activity compared to pre-pandemic, and this trend will no doubt continue in 2022 as tools update and in-app experiences become more seamless for users. Influencers will continue to play a pivotal role in driving social commerce growth, weaving products and recommendations into their content, and we can expect platforms to introduce new features to further facilitate this. Our research found that nearly half (46%) of UK and US consumers said they’d been influenced to buy a product or service from a creator in the past 12-months.
For small businesses in particular, social commerce has been an invaluable way to drive brand awareness and product discovery. Leveraging the array of tools out there this year will help push these lesser known businesses onto the map.
TikTok continues to dominate the short-form playing field, especially among Gen Z. Research by Forrester found that 63% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 used TikTok on a weekly basis in 2021, compared with 57% for Instagram, claiming TikTok to be funnier and more positive than other social platforms. The debut of YouTube Shorts last year and the growing popularity of Instagram Reels have also had a hand in shortening our attention spans and solidifying the demand for bursts of entertainment. That being said, live stream video will grow in popularity among creators and brands as an effective way to reach and engage with audiences. Live stream shopping events burst onto the scene last year, helping to drive social commerce and transform both how we shop and how we consume content. They provide an opportunity for users to engage with brands, creators, and experts in real-time, to facilitate interactions that feel more convenient than those in the real-world, and more personal than those in the digital.
Live-streams will gain more traction this year as platforms introduce new features for hosting and discovery, as well as incentives for creators. For example, Instagram has enabled creators to monetise their live streams, with a recent announcement that Live Badges would be automatically added to the streams of all eligible creators, allowing them to generate money from users who want to increase their chances of interacting with the host. As monetisation programmes grow more competitive, platforms will have to find new and exciting ways to incentivise creators; as such, it’s important that marketers stay alert to these opportunities and which platform is offering them, as this is where the best talent will be found in 2022.
Social media has long been considered a marketplace of ideas, home to all manner of different communities and allowing like-minded individuals to connect. Apps like TikTok have enabled digital subcultures to emerge into the mainstream, with the pandemic fuelling people’s eagerness to share and learn about everything from #CottageCore to #FinanceTok. Social Media is now just as much a space for education as it is for entertainment, with the two aligning perfectly in short-form content- on TikTok – and in live events like those facilitated by LinkedIn. These communities also help to drive organic recommendations and product discovery, so it’s important that brands gain a presence with these audiences and track what is driving their purchasing behaviours.
Transparency remains a key concern among social media users, with Apple and Google bringing data privacy to the forefront of conversation. The demise of the cookie will bring data-driven targeted advertising to an end, and marketers will have to consider new ways to capture data and reach consumers organically.
Leveraging live-stream shopping, creators, and communities across social media will be essential for overcoming those challenges.
While some are still grappling with the idea of the Metaverse, others are leaning into the opportunities that a virtual world could hold. There’s new hardware on the horizon, like VR headsets from Apple and Facebook, but it will be long before these gadgets enter the mainstream. Digital avatars will help to ease us into the Metaverse and lay the groundwork for what is to come, and we could be seeing more avatar influencers like Lil Miquela. Digital fashion will continue to emerge in gaming, and AR-experiences will become more popular on platforms, allowing users to ‘try on’ digital items. Snapchat- already hot on the AR scene- released research revealing that, neurologically, AR experiences are indeed more immersive than other immersive entertainment avenues.
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