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2021 Influencer Marketing Trends

2021 Influencer Marketing Trends

The influencer marketing industry has grown exponentially over the past few years and according to a Business Insider Intelligence report, brands will spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022.

With the growth of social media platforms, like TikTok, and the integration of new features on existing platforms, like Instagram Live Shopping, brands are able to reach their target market in new and exciting ways. We’re predicting growth into new platforms as well as shifts in the ways that brands work with talent.

As we head into the new year influencer marketing is going to remain a hot topic. In 2021 you can expect to see more sponsored posts and branded content in your feed, no matter what platform you’re on. So what is REALLY ahead for the industry in 2021? We’ve laid it all out below.

So grab a cup of coffee & dig in! Always Striving to Set New Standards,

Jess Phillips CEO The Social Standard

1. Use of Micro & Nano Influencers

In 2021 influencer marketing will be more vital to the promotion of brands and products than ever before. And while micro and nano influencers aren’t a new concept the use of these types of influencers is going to rapidly increase. With less than 50K followers, micro and nano influencers are small but mighty, typically having targeted and highly engaged niche audiences. In 2021 we’re predicting a rise in the number of brands working with nano and micro influencers, shifting their focus from non-specific influencers to niece- specific influencers.

The Social Standard is no stranger to the nano and micro influencer strategy. Last year, we were tasked with activating a group of micro influencers for our long-time client, Hinge. We identified 57 micro influencers who could create custom content aimed at driving awareness and increasing app downloads. The influencers were asked to create content on Instagram over a 6 month period, totalling 89 pieces of content. The focus of the campaign was to promote the app’s mission of being, “Designed to be Deleted,” through compelling posts. The success of the campaign was overwhelming with 4M+ impressions and 3.6M+ likes.

2. Authenticity

Today’s consumer is smart, educated and informed. They are able to tell the difference between a paid review and an unpaid review. They can sense when a partnership feels forced and inauthentic. They can see a brand’s values and identity through the ways that the brand uses and interacts with influencers. All of this is bringing forth more genuine content, we are going to see companies working with influencers who are not just amplifiers but brand advocates and communicators. We are going to see this most notably in the shift to long-term partnerships.

While the days of one-off or campaign-to-campaign style partnerships aren’t completely over, in 2021 we are going to see brands hiring influencers on an ongoing basis to increase their reach and brand loyalty. Brands are recognizing the value of creating lasting relationships with influencers who personify and embody the brand. This type of longer-term strategy will allow for more touches with the brand, eventually nearing the 6-8 touches that are necessary to make a sale.

We’ve seen this strategy perform well on multiple occasions. One of our favorites being a campaign we worked on for Fiat. FiatChrylser tasked The Social Standard to create a long term influencer program focused on the promotion of their latest models. Beauty, fashion and fitness influencers were chosen as long-term brand ambassadors to promote the vehicles. The program introduced a 2-year lease of a brand- new FIAT vehicle to each influencer. Because they were able to utilize the car long-term it allowed us to create a truly authentic campaign that produced images, videos and stories, generating 4.9M+ impressions.

3. Esports

Growth in Gaming

Over the past year we have seen the gaming industry become a hot spot for influencer marketing. With the industry projected to be a $300B industry by 2025 and the influencer marketing industry projected to be a $15B industry in 2022, it’s no surprise that the two have found some synergies. The gaming population worldwide is around 2.6 billion people large, according to Statista, and consists of a huge consumer base with ranging ages and interests.

Although gaming influencers might not be an obvious choice for your brand it is important to know that they are as popular and impactful as fashion, fitness, or beauty influencers. Typically, gamers live-stream themselves playing the audience’s favorite games on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook Gaming, and Twitch (to name a few).

Twitch

Twitch is the world’s leading live-streaming platform for gamers and has been gaining traction within the influencer marketing industry. Currently, the platform has 17.5 million average daily visitors, who spend 95 minutes a day watching live streams.

With these huge numbers, Twitch has quickly gained the attention of marketers who want to work with top- performing influencers. The difference here is that promotions on Twitch are live-streamed. In most cases these influencers will do one of the following: giveaways, shout outs, let’s play, or product unboxings. For marketers who are wanting to reach Gen Z and Millennials, Twitch is THE platform.

At the end of the day gaming influencers are known for engaging their audiences for long periods of time. Working with these influencers to feature your brand in a video and create collaborative content will allow them to build traction with their audiences. Entertaining content will keep their audience coming back for more, eventually building a loyal community of followers and customers.

4. Influencers as Production Teams

Covid-19 has created a lot of difficulty for brands around content creation and production with the restrictions on the amount of people allowed to gather, making it hard for production teams to create. Although this has caused big headaches for some brands others have seen the value of influencers as full production teams and are bypassing production companies and asking influencers to create assets instead.

Influencers have the skill set and ability to create awesome content from start to finish. From location scouting, to shooting, to editing, influencers are able to create meaningful and eye-catching content all from the comfort of their neighborhood or home studio. In addition, these creative professionals are already set up to work from home, and have a ready-to-show portfolio of engaging, high-quality content made without a full production team or a big budget. A recent study done by Obviously found that this allows for a 50 percent reduction in creative costs on average when working with influencers in place of a production studio and a 40 percent increase in ad performance of influencer-created content in social ads.

5. Video Content

Throughout 2020, Instagram feeds were filled with influencers going live to keep us company. From daily check-ins, to live fitness sessions, and general chats, influencers made the switch to more livestream- focused content. A social media platform’s live feature provides a better way of interaction between the influencer and their audience. Video content has a way of being more engaging and is a way for followers to feel involved and better connected as the event is being filmed in real time. Many influencers have used new features to get to know their audience, their interests and what they want from the influencer-to- consumer relationship. They have connected through different features such as polls, question fields and live chats on Instagram. Video content increased and new features were created, causing 2020 to become more virtually connected more than ever.

Live Events

The number of organizations who planned and executed virtual events doubled in 2020, according to a report by Wild Apricot. This explosion of virtual events tells us that these industry stats will be invaluable to organizers as they plan virtual events in 2021. Last year we saw the rise of influencer participation with brands to promote new products while creating brand engagement and awareness. From happy hours, to augmented reality features, to virtual workout classes, brands will continue to use this type of marketing in 2021.

In 2020, The Social Standard partnered with Acre Mezcal, an award-winning artisanal mezcal from Mexico’s best regions, and Natalie Migliarini, author of an award-winning resource for cocktail enthusiasts, professional bartenders, brands, and travelers alike called Beautiful Booze. During the event, Natalie hosted a virtual Thanksgiving-themed cocktail class and taught the audience how to craft delicious seasonal cocktails including: an aperitif cocktail, a dinner cocktail, and a dessert cocktail, all using Acre Mezcal products. In result, the livestream had 500 views and positive engagements on all social posts 738 likes on @beautifulbooze in-feed post. The Social Standard has done several other events such as virtual cooking classes to virtual fitness workouts.

TikTok

According to Sensor Tower in Q1 of 2020, TikTok had 315 million downloads, which is the best quarter by any app, ever. Among the U.S. over 18, TikTok brought in 22.2 million mobile unique visitors in January, 23.2 million in February and 28.8 million in March. In April, that number jumped to 39.2 million—three times the 12.6 million who used the app last April, according to the most recent Comscore data provided to Adweek.

Many brands are struggling to make their voices heard on TikTok but if you’re considering dipping your toes into TikTok influencer marketing or looking to level up your brand’s existing strategy, there are a few winning tactics you can implement. For example, E.L.F., which emerged as an early powerhouse on the platform thanks to its viral “Eyes Lips Face” song created just for the platform. In fact, it became so popular, they rolled out a full version of the song complete with its own music video., To date, posts tagged #EyesLipsFace have received 6.6B views. Many influencers took a part of this challenge and created their own version of the TikTok.

6. New Platform Features

Instagram Live Shopping

Instagram launched “Instagram Live Shopping” that allows creators and brands to sell products during an Instagram Live broadcast. Sellers, brands, and creators will be able to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase. This feature allows creators to educate their audience by sharing recommendations and reviews, showcase new products and collaborate with other creators.

Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels is a new way to create engaging video content. Similar to TikTok, Instagram users can record and edit together 15 to 30-second video clips set to music and share them to their Stories, Explore Feed, and the new Reels tab on a user’s profile. The goal of Reels is to not only entice a new audience on Instagram but also keep that audience.

Instagram Guides

Instagram launched a new format for sharing curated, scrollable content: Instagram Guides. Instagram describes guides as “a way to more easily discover recommendations, tips and other content from your favorite creators, public figures, organizations and publishers on Instagram.” In addition to being able to group and gather your own personal Instagram content, guides also allow you to bring in content from other accounts.

All in all 2021 is going to be a huge year for influencer marketing. Whether it’s something your brand has been integrating into your marketing strategy already, or it’s something that you want to work on in this year, we can help! Reach out to us at partner@sostandard.com and let us know where you’re at and how we can help. We look forward to it.

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