With a new year comes new and improved strategic marketing plans. For many brands, an influencer marketing strategy will be a large part of that plan. The majority (90%) of people believe influencer marketing to be effective, according to Influencer Marketing Hub’s State of Influencer Marketing 2021: Benchmark Report.
In an effort to ensure your influencer marketing campaigns in 2022 continue to hit it out of the park, we’ve rounded up some trends to help you stay informed and inspire new strategies.
Influencer Marketing Predictions for the New Year
Whether your influencer marketing focus is on Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, or podcasts, there are new trends and predictions emerging for 2022.
We’ll cover 10 below, including the rise of influencers in the metaverse, creator-focused marketplaces, the continued benefits of nano- and micro-influencers, influencers as entrepreneurs, growing emphasis on genuine content, and more.
1) Totally New Influencers in the Metaverse
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the metaverse in 2021, which, in simple terms, is a virtual world where users will be able to work, play, and socialize. It goes beyond what we’ve all known for several years when it comes to consuming content. Instead of simply looking and interacting with content online, the metaverse puts each person right in the middle of it in the form of avatars — kind of like a real-life Sims game. The goal of the metaverse is to bring people together as avatars in a virtual world. This new, virtual world is already piquing the interest of large brands like Gucci, Prada, and Puma, according to Vogue Business. These brands see the metaverse as a way to expand brand awareness and extend their influencer marketing efforts beyond the pages of social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Fragrance brand Vyrao is already taking full advantage of the metaverse by creating its own virtual influencer that lives specifically in the metaverse. The avatar’s name is Ræ, and it was created by a digital artist to be a persona that fully embodies the Vyrao brand.
“We see Ræ as a sort-of digital energetic healer existing in the metaverse, one who emits good energy just like our fragrances do,” Vyrao founder Yasmin Sewell said in the Vogue Business article. “In the future, we see much more scope for Ræ to represent us and to connect with people outside of our own channels.”
Fashion retailer Yoox also has an avatar influencer in the metaverse who has collaborated with brands like Polo Ralph Lauren, Persol, and New Balance, carving out a unique new strategy for brands that could be applied even beyond the fashion industry.
2) More Creator-Focused Marketplaces on Social Media
Providing tools for content creators and brands to connect and collaborate more easily on social media is another trend started last year that we predict will continue through 2022. TikTok and Instagram now have creator marketplaces where communication between influencers and the brands they’re working with is made seamless.
Brands and influencers alike want more control over their marketing influencing projects. Therefore, the use of these creator marketplaces will only increase in popularity as more tools are added and the technology gets even better. These tools can also make communication between firms and the influencers they’re working with on behalf of brands easier.
When TikTok rolled out its Creator Marketplace in fall 2021, Influential, an influencer marketing agency that works with well-known brands like Ford Motor Co., McDonald’s, and DoorDash Inc., was one of the first to try out the tool, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.
“The Creator Marketplace API integration provides deeper insights on talent both pre- and post-campaign so that partners like McDonald’s can select their perfect ambassadors, drive video views, engagement, and foot traffic,” Influential said in its announcement about the partnership.
3) Continued Rise of Nano- and Micro-Influencers
Influencers no longer need to have extremely high follower counts to succeed. Influencers with fewer than 10,000 followers are considered nano-influencers, while influencers with between 10,000 and 50,000 followers are considered micro-influencers. Both nano- and micro-influencers have been around for many years but will continue to rise in popularity and continue being some of the most sought-after influencers for large and small brands alike.
There are many reasons for this trend, but one of the main reasons is because smaller influencers have some of the highest engagement numbers when compared to any other type of influencer, according to Business 2 Community. Additionally, since the pandemic began, micro-influencers on YouTube in particular are seeing engagement rates increase on an average of 304% month over month, according to TalkingInfluence.
Another reason long-term partnerships with nano- and micro-influencers will continue rising in 2022 is the fact that they are simply less expensive for brands to work with than larger mega-influencers and celebrities. Because of this combined with high engagement stats, the return on investment for brands working with smaller influencers can be much higher than when working with larger influencers.
Working with smaller influencers on your brand’s influencer marketing campaigns also means you may be able to do more campaigns with micro-influencers than you would with mega-influencers who come with a higher price tag.
Want to start searching? Popular Pays is one of the best influencer marketing platforms that also focuses on micro-influencers.
4) Influencers Transforming Into Entrepreneurs
Because many influencers are making full-time earnings from influencing on social media, they are essentially running a small business. In a 2019 article from National Geographic, the publication refers to influencers as “The Modern Entrepreneurs.” This is very much in line with the reality for many influencers — especially as many realized as the pandemic began that it can be a lucrative career that can be done mostly from the comfort of their own home.
Additionally, building a brand is similar to building a business. Though the “product” of an influencer is usually their own personal brand, the process of building a lucrative influencer business requires the same skills as building a business. Becoming a successful influencer requires dedication, passion, business acumen, expert content marketing knowledge, financial skills, and above all, the ability to connect with followers in an authentic way that establishes trust. Influencers — just like any other successful business — help drive the economy through innovation.
Many top influencers even take it one step further and build upon their success as influencers to launch other businesses, like e-commerce brands. This is especially popular among fashion, beauty, and lifestyle influencers. Some examples include Instagram influencers like:
- Haile Lidow, founder of Lido Archive, a clothing rental company
- Sean Garrette, founder of Sean Garrette Skin
- Julie Sariñana (Sincerely Jules), founder of Color Department, a nail polish company
5) Bigger Emphasis on Real, Genuine Content
In the past few years, there has been a shift on social media in general to post more authentic content. We would argue that the pandemic also helped push this trend even faster as people looked to social media for connection to others during the worst periods of the pandemic. This trend has extended to influencers as well, and many are posting more genuine, real content that’s less produced and less focused on being overly polished.
We predict this trend to continue as credibility and trust are key to authentic and successful influencer programs, which makes posting authentic content an added incentive for influencers. Even brands see the value in relatable influencer content, according to a recent Forbes article. The article points out RXBar’s flavor launch that took place in 2020. The company’s strategy was to market exclusively via influencers, giving each influencer the control to generate content that was relevant to their specific audiences.
The article also mentions that consumers can easily identify sponsored content on social media and feel betrayed if they see an influencer they once trusted become overly salesy or too heavy-handed with sponsored posts.
All of this to say, there is an expert balance that must constantly be assessed between the brands who are partnering with influencers and the influencers themselves to create campaigns that feel real and genuine.
6) Even More Partnerships Between Influencers and Brands
Building upon the previous trend of authenticity among influencers, brands are clearly seeing the immense value in influencer marketing and how partnering with influencers can get their message or product to their audience quickly. According to BigCommerce, 65% of influencer marketing budgets were increased in 2020, compared to only 39% in 2018.
Because of this, we predict more brands of all sizes and stages of growth will be tapping into influencer marketing programs if they haven’t yet. The market for influencers has become quite saturated, but this is a great thing for brands. With time, any brand will be able to find an influencer that can fit their specific brand and match the vibe for a certain campaign.
Even more, influencer marketing was expected to grow to be worth $13.8 billion in 2021 from $1.7 billion in 2016, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. These stats alone show that long-term relationships between influencers and brands will continue to grow well into 2022 and beyond.
7) Short Video Content Will Still Be King
Video has been king for quite a few years — especially short videos like Instagram reels, TikToks, and live streams — and we don’t see that slowing down in the new year. That rise will continue in 2022 as a large percentage of younger audiences’ time is spent watching video. According to Vidmob’s 2018 State of Social Video (U.S. Edition), it found that 33% of millennials spent 33% of their digital time watching video. Gen Z was found to spend 41% of their time online watching videos instead of reading articles or looking at photos.
Beyond younger generations watching more videos while online, another study, Video Marketing Statistics 2021: The State of Video Marketing, found that 84% of consumers reported that watching a brand’s video is the reason they were convinced to make a purchase or subscribe to a service. This is a huge reason for brands to continue producing videos and perhaps even dedicate more of the marketing budget to video production. Video marketing on social media is here to stay and will continue to be a lucrative tool for brands’ influencer marketing strategies.
8) Greater Diversity in the Influencer Sphere
Diversity among social media influencers increases with each year, and in addition to the fact that influencers are beginning to relate to a wider audience because they are not only falling into traditional influencer demographics (white, straight, thin, cis-females), many consumers on social media are seeking out diverse influencers to follow.
A study from MarketingDrive indicated “that consumer awareness about social injustice has affected the impact of influencers, with 36% of influencer-following consumers saying they follow a more diverse group of influencers than they did before the protests against racial inequality started in the summer of 2020.”
Even more, “65% of consumers say they would stop following an influencer who says or does something that doesn’t align with their personal ethics and values.” And 32% of respondents from the survey said they had purchased more products and/or services from businesses that are endorsed by influencers from different racial and cultural backgrounds.
This statistic is especially important to keep in mind when you’re vetting influencers for your next influencer marketing project. You’ll want to make sure the influencer aligns with the social, and in some circumstances, political values of your target audience.
9) Increased Focus on ROI and Hard Data
Because influencer marketing campaigns are becoming a larger part of the marketing strategy of many brands, there will be a larger focus on tracking return on investment (ROI) as well as hard data of campaigns.
There is a general trend of brands and marketing managers moving away from traditional vanity metrics and getting serious about analytics that measure real performance. According to the 2021 State of Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, 67% of brands measure the ROI from influencer campaigns, but we predict that percent rising as the benefits of influencer marketing are seen more widely and companies dedicate larger budgets to these projects. You can learn more about measuring influencer performance here.
10) Higher Budgets for Influencer Marketing
As mentioned earlier, brands have been increasingly dedicating more money to influencer marketing campaigns over the past few years. We predict this trend to continue in 2022 for a few reasons. First, the ROI is solid. According to The Digital Marketing Institute, for every dollar that is spent on influencer marketing campaigns, $5.78 is earned. Some brands can see even as much as $18 for every dollar spent.
Learn more about calculating the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns.
Second, as the pandemic continues and the fact that younger generations are spending more time online, dedicating more of your budget to influencer marketing campaigns as opposed to in-store or in-person marketing (like billboards or ads on public transportation) just makes more sense. Along with that, influencer marketing has been proven to help brands acquire better customers. “Fifty-one percent of marketers say influencer marketing helps them acquire better customers,” according to The Digital Marketing Institute. This generally has to do with building solid relationships with consumers, which can be done very effectively through micro-influencers that already have solid followings who see them as trustworthy.
Looking for a Way to Scale Your Influencer Marketing?
As you embark on everything that 2022 has to offer, you may feel confident about the outlook of influencer marketing; however, we encourage you to take it one step further. Start thinking about what your campaigns will look like and what types of influencers you’ll want to work with in order to scale your strategies and see the largest impact.
Popular Pays can help. Our influencer marketing platform that helps you connect with the right influencers and creators for your brand, collaborate, and track the performance of your campaigns all in one place. Learn more about Popular Pays.