Founder and CEO of Sway Group, an influencer marketing agency that generates exceptional content with guaranteed results.
If there’s one thing we can probably agree on about 2020 and its impact on brands and consumers, it’s that last year was extraordinary — unprecedented even, although I think most of us are over that particular term. At my influencer marketing agency, we spent the last weeks of 2020 wrapping up end-of-year programs while also turning our attention ahead to the new year.
It’s become a tradition for me to dedicate some time at the end of each year to share our predictions for how influencer marketing will evolve during the next year. Back in 2019, we certainly didn’t see a global pandemic coming, but our best guesses for influencer trends and tactics to keep an eye on turned out to be fairly accurate — down to the importance of diversity and the rise of the nano-influencer.
While forecasting what the future will hold is no easy task during this shifting cultural moment, here are six major influencer marketing trends that I believe will become increasingly important in 2021.
1. ‘Influencer’ Versus ‘Creator’: Terminology Is In Flux
While influencer marketing as an industry isn’t going anywhere (it’s been predicted that brands will spend up to $15 billion on it by 2022), the term “influencer” has undergone something of a sea change in recent years. Initially used to describe anyone with a following on social media, the word is now strongly associated with monetizing through sponsorships and other brand deals.
MORE FOR YOU
The perception of influence and clout has appeal for some, but many are beginning to prefer the term “content creator,” or more simply, “creator.” We’ve noticed that those who self-identify as creators tend to put more value on their creative worth and the quality of their content. Content creators are more than social media celebrities; they’re photographers, performers, creative directors, writers and videographers, and many of them would rather be recognized for their high-quality content than their follower count.
2. Paid Amplification Will Be Critical For Broad Outreach
It may seem counterintuitive to include paid advertising in an influencer campaign, since influencer marketing is all about, well, not being anything like a traditional ad. However, paid amplification of influencer content is becoming increasingly valuable in terms of reaching larger qualified audiences. Thanks to extremely granular ad targeting provided by social media platforms, not only can brands ensure that their high-performing influencer content gets seen despite tricky algorithms, but they also can greatly amplify their overall campaign impact.
3. Short-Form Video Will Continue To Skyrocket
Short, digestible video content has been extremely popular for a few years now, and 2021 will most likely be no different. Short-form video is the style of brief, instantly engaging video content that has become a nearly ubiquitous trend on nearly every platform, particularly as less curated “disappearing content” options like Instagram Stories have gained in popularity.
At our agency, we’ve seen huge success with branded, influencer-created short-form video for before-and-afters, short tutorials of all kinds (makeup, food prep and recipes, DIY projects), workouts, fashion inspiration and more. It’s safe to assume that this type of video will continue to appeal in 2021, given the production challenges of creating traditional-length video content, the need for on-trend and time-sensitive messaging and, of course, our ever-dwindling attention spans.
4. Social Commerce Features Will Boost Sponsorship Opportunities
As more platforms offer e-commerce features for users, new shopping behaviors and related influencer marketing opportunities for brand sponsorships will likely continue to emerge. Shoppable posts and videos, seamless transitions from influencer content to brand-owned channels, deeper integrations between platforms and e-commerce solutions/storefronts — we foresee all of these trends being on the rise in 2021. These social commerce innovations are quickly leading to wider consumer acceptance, and brands would be wise to start including shoppable content in their influencer campaigns.
5. Authenticity Will Continue To Be Key For Generation Z
Believe it or not, the oldest members of Generation Z will be turning 24 in 2021. These digital natives have grown up with smartphones and social media, and nearly half of them have made a purchase based on an influencer’s suggestion.
Generation Z is shaping up to be quite the consumer powerhouse, with spending already estimated at close to a whopping $100 billion. With older members of Gen Z in the workforce and some even starting their own families, this is a group whose interests and needs are rapidly shifting — and brands should be paying attention. When it comes to marketing to Gen Z, they should be recognized for their unique characteristics: They tend to be drawn to quality over quantity in social media, they value individual expression, and above all, they greatly prefer brand authenticity and companies that are transparent about their stances on social causes.
6. Taking A Stand (And Backing It Up With Action) Will Be Crucial
2020 brought a seemingly endless list of historic events, many of which had a profound effect on the consumer landscape. Pandemic lockdowns and economic uncertainties changed how we work, how we shop and what we choose for entertainment, while social justice movements like Black Lives Matter rose to the forefront of the national conversation.
In the past, most brands have largely avoided hot-button political and social justice topics, but this is no longer a safe bet: Silence is increasingly seen by many as tantamount to complicity.
More consumers than ever are demanding that businesses speak up on topics of racial inequality and other important issues affecting the country. However, it’s not enough for a brand to issue a statement or even promote a donation. Many consumers today — particularly millennials and Gen Z — are looking to support the brands that put real action behind their stated values.
While all of the trends above are important, I think it’s the last one that matters most. Brands truly need to show how they are walking the walk in 2021, particularly when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Representation matters, and this year, every influencer marketing campaign should drive positive audience connections by authentically reflecting the range of human differences.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
Go to Source
Author: Danielle Wiley, Forbes Councils Member