Top Five Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021

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As the end of January 2021 is fast approaching, we wanted to take the opportunity to share our top predictions, regarding the current state as well as the future of influencer marketing, for this upcoming year.

Video content is continuing to gain traction

As a result of the current global pandemic, people are watching more online video content than ever before. This content is being viewed on the long-established platforms YouTube and Facebook, but also on new and rapidly growing contenders such as TikTok and Instagram Reels (which went live in August 2020) are seeing a growing demand for video content by users. More figures in relation to the increased traction of video content can be found in the graphic below:

Alongside this, one of the most desirable video content in 2020 has been short, digestible content, which can be found on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Stories, and Instagram Reels. What is so enticing to consumers with this short-form content style is that it is brief, instantly engaging, and tailored to an individual's interests by sophisticated algorithms. We expect this trend to continue well into 2021 and beyond, with more sponsored content being produced on the newer video platforms by creators.

Another exciting development is the reports of TikTok testing the effectiveness of longer-form videos on their platform. The platform is allowing various users early access to the possibility of 3-minute-long video uploads. The app only allows for 60-second uploads in its current state, which pushes many creators to add "like for part 2" to their content and upload multiple short-form videos on one topic. If this experiment deems successful and rolls out platform-wide, these messages and multiple uploads would no longer be necessary. Moreover, this update would allow them to continue to compete with Instagram Reels, who have recently implemented the option for longer video uploads on the platform last September.

Authenticity continues to stay key

As the influencer marketing space continues to mature, consumers are continuously more tech-savvy and have a deeper understanding of the influencer marketing space and sponsored content. Moreover, Generation Z's digital native generation is growing into quite a consumer powerhouse, with estimated spending of $140 billion. It has also been stated that almost half of them have based purchases on influencer suggestions. Brands need to consider that this generation has grown up with digitalisation and social media, thus influencer marketing being particularly transparent to them. These factors continue to drive the importance of authenticity within the influencer marketing space in order to generate well-performing influencer marketing campaigns.

Circling back to Gen Z, this generation has few key characteristics which are essential when it comes to marketing:

  • They are more enticed by quality over quantity;
  • Individual expression is critical to them;
  • This generation vastly prefers transparency with companies and subsequently connects with brands that show authenticity.

Moreover, throughout 2020 it also became apparent that this generation also finds a brand's stance on social causes an increasingly important factor.

When selecting content creators for your campaigns, make sure that your brand and the creators you partner with come across as authentic with a strong brand match. Speaking from our experience of facilitating over 2,000 result-driven campaigns, influencer marketing campaigns with an excellent brand match and authenticity achieve a higher engagement rate and are more enticing to your specific niche audience.

Place emphasis on ambassador marketing

As stated previously, many consumers are becoming savvier at spotting paid influencer campaigns and easily ignore brands or influencers who prove to be inauthentic. In order to maintain genuine influencer partnerships and keep those loyal, high-performing content creators in the brands inner circles, many of them are turning away from one-off campaigns and are instead moving towards the creation of influencer communities and long-term ambassador programs. These choices seem to resonate well with customer audiences as well as brand perception.

Another issue is influencer fraud. Influencer fraud will continue to be a top issue for brands in 2021. The majority of the brands they are in contact with have stated that they are concerned about guaranteeing the authenticity of content creators their following. Luckily the Influentials platform provides you with a credibility score of every single influencer in the tool, along with up-to-date detailed information about their following demographics. Moreover, implementing an ambassador program of fully vetted influencers who have demonstrated their professionalism and affinity can effectively ensure brand safety.

We motivate brands to pay attention to past campaign data so that you can track which influencers resonate most with your niche (customer) audience. As more data becomes available from past campaigns, this process will continue to become easier, and you will be able to swiftly identify who the best candidates are for your influencer community or ambassador program.

Social justice and taking a stand is crucial

Throughout 2020 and the global pandemic, there have been what seems like endless historical events that have taken place. These events have simultaneously shifted the consumer landscape, alongside their needs. Economic shifts such as global lockdowns, economic uncertainty, and unemployment have profoundly affected buying power and what purchases are deemed necessary. The perspective of consumerism worldwide seems to have steered away from superficial and sales-driven intent and has shifted more towards purposeful and ethically driven intent. Alongside this, social justice movements such as BLM (Black Lives Matter) and political scandals have sparked global conversation and activism online, which has had a profound impact on the social media space.

These events have caused higher public demands towards both brands and content creators to speak up about political and social justice topics. And especially in 2020, silence on these topics has been viewed in a negative light as showcasing ignorance.

Moreover, we expect these shifts in the consumer landscape to continue well into 2021. This is a period of time where financial setbacks and unemployment negatively affect many families and households; thus, it makes sense to build trust and develop stronger relationships with your customer audience, as once buying power increases, these customers will choose brands that they view positively to allocate their discretionary income on products and services.

Lastly, we expect social justice to go way beyond being a trend, with consumers continuing to push for more diversity, inclusivity, and representation in all media. Brands need to reflect on their brand image and make conscious and positive steps to provide consumers with representation and diversity. The younger generations, especially, Millennials and Generation Z, are enticed to support brands that show actual action behind their stated brand values.

Sponsorship opportunities on the rise due to social e-commerce

New shopping behaviors continue to develop as more platforms continue to offer their users e-commerce features. As a result of the development of such features, related influencer marketing brand sponsorship opportunities will likely continue to materialise. We foresee the following trends to be on the rise this year: shoppable posts and videos, more in-depth integrations between platforms, and coherent and smooth transitions from influencer content to brand-owned channels. These social commerce innovations are steadily advancing to broader consumer acceptance, and brands would be wise to start implementing shoppable content into their long-term influencer campaign strategy.

Our advice to brands is to continue adapting to these trends and implementing shoppable posts into their influencer marketing campaigns. Use the campaign data gathered to analyse if social e-commerce is profitable for your brand and can be strategised into a long-term plan with your marketing plans for influencer marketing.

Are you looking to implement influencer marketing into your marketing efforts in a straightforward and data-driven manner? Influentials end-to-end workflow platform can aid you in reaching all your influencer marketing goals, both as a brand or a content creator.

Dana de Koning
Dana de Koning
January 26, 2021