With the influencer marketing industry growing from a $1.7 billion dollar industry in 2016 to $16.4 billion in 2022 (Forbes), it is clear that brands and agencies are investing heavily in this channel. Here are some of the trends forming in 2023 and how you can capitalize on them today.
1. Micro and Nano Influencers
Not only are micro-influencers 6.7x more efficient at engaging audiences than macro or mega-influencers, but they are more likely to create and generate organic content in support of or opposing a brand or topic based on a personal humanized experience (Medium). Utilizing these types of influencers is more likely to ensure an alignment with the intended audience due to strong niches, be more cost-effective, and showcase acknowledgment of the call for authenticity by audiences
2. Affiliate Programs
It is estimated that global spending on affiliate marketing will increase to $14 billion, and rise further to $15.7 billion in 2024 (Influencer Marketing Hub). Brands are seeing great success with affiliates because it leans on the strengths of influencers, lending itself to an even more authentic and trustworthy audience that is likely to convert.
Additionally, affiliate programs allow you to tap into influencer communities of like-minded individuals who have already established trust within their networks. Brands have more insight as to the success of their affiliate campaigns and are able to easily pivot strategy based on performance and conversion data.
3. AI and CGI Influencers
58% of consumers follow at least one virtual influencer and 35% of consumers said they have purchased a product promoted by a virtual influencer (Forbes). Virtual creators, CGI, and AI influencers are created to resemble and post similar to a typical human influencer. Brands are able to utilize these influencers while also maintaining control over how their brand is represented, including the creative process, an important step traditionally owned by the influencer.
4. Other Emerging Practices
- Short-Form video content: 67% of audiences report that they are more likely to watch and engage with short-form videos, as compared to static posts. Short-form video conversion rates are as high as 70%. (Shane Barker)
- Podcasts and partnerships: 60% of podcast listeners have bought something from a podcast ad and 69% of respondents say podcast ads increase their awareness of products, brands, and services. (Buzzsprout)
- Social good and cause-based campaigns: With an emphasis on authenticity, many influencers recognize that their identities include awareness for causes that they support, leaving opportunities for brand partnerships to foster more social good.
The Power of GenZ
GenZ has grown up in a booming social media era, and thus are considered savvy across platforms. Their expertise paired with growing purchasing power should not be overlooked when planning campaigns. GenZ consumers are twice as likely to engage with a brand’s product or services via influencers than other groups (AList Daily). In fact, 40% of GenZ prefer searching on TikTok and Instagram over search engines like Google because it provides a better display of user-generated content (AList Daily). Given their digital expertise, it is more important than ever to carefully vet and select influencer partners. GenZ is searching for influencers that they relate to and who represent their values, increasing the amount of trust and loyalty between both influencer and consumer. They are values and belief-driven and known to fact-check branded content. If they spot a lie they will unfollow; however, if they like what they see brands will reap the benefits–that means successful campaigns and ultimately, conversions.
How to Capitalize
Incorporating the latest trends may seem overwhelming to incorporate into your influencer marketing strategy. Unsure where to start? Here are a few ways to capitalize on the changes in the influencer marketing industry today in order to see growth and ROI.
- Ecommerce and shoppable content: Globally, shoppable content and live shopping are projected to accumulate nearly $500 billion in sales by the end of the year (Linkedin). This projection allows for new brand and influencer partnerships–think more engagement, new followers, and sales. Social platforms like Pinterest have picked up on these trends and are evolving along with them. Pinterest integrated AR Try on tools and Pinterest TV (live shopping) in order to grow and support creators on their platform
- User-generated content (UGC): 82% of GenZ trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising rather than a paid spokesperson or celebrity (Forbes). Brands have the opportunity to refine their marketing strategy to focus content creators at the core of it. UGC provides an opportunity to build authentic brand trust with consumers and leverage influencers in new ways.
- Long-term partnerships: Brand "voice" is being replaced by brand "personality." It's important to build long-standing relationships with content creators that embody what this personality is in order to reach desired audiences and communities. Focusing on performance-based deals results in a more authentic relationship between the audience, influencer, and brand. This allows for brands and companies to have the upper hand and pay for the outcome of the engagement results–think low risk, high reward. Overall, there is a major shift into authentic relationships for growth, evolution, and ROI.
Leveraging influencers will expand your reach into audiences that you would not have been able to access otherwise. Strategic and aligned partnerships with the right content creators will grow consumers' brand trust exponentially. Finally, developing brand personalities through key partnerships will enable brands to reach an ideal consumer and build a long-lasting, impactful community.