Looking ahead at what’s to come next year in terms of digital marketing, it’s clear to see that influencers are going to only gain in value and popularity. As TikTok and Snapchat have emerged, the influencer industry has become one of the defining new roles in marketing, and with social media platforms allowing for more targeting of posts and ads than ever, influencers are only going to become more vital in 2021. That’s because influencer marketing simply works, and the audience numbers combined with the ROI can transform the future of any business that is smart about its use of those influencers. Here’s what we can expect to see in 2021 and why influencer marketing is more important than ever.
It’s no secret that micro-influencers have slowly become more valuable to brands than celebrity accounts. Micro-influencers, which are those social media profiles that have fewer than 10,000 followers, have been growing in popularity since the end of 2019, but 2021 looks set to be the year that brands realize that the higher levels of engagement, the affordability, and the geographical reach (ideal for localized brands) are all far more suited to micro-influencers than larger names. It’s also a lot easier to find influencers with smaller follower numbers, and they will always be a lot easier to work with than bigger accounts and names.
More people are calling themselves influencers than ever, but that means that there are a lot of people making promises to brands and then not delivering. It’s widely expected that 2021 will see the rise of performance-related pay structures for influencers, with brands paying for proven sales or clicks. The good news is that some influencers will excel at this shift. This case study on CA lottery holiday scratchers, which looked at how influencers helped promote scratchcard lottery tickets for a seasonal promotion, highlights that those influencers who are more willing to engage will make more money than those that treat it like an amateur role. Performance-based pay might not be popular, but it is becoming increasingly common.
The Niche Influencers
Celebrity influencers are too big to focus on one particular brand or sector, so they’ll be promoting a variety of brands and products at all times. One single influencer could be making posts for the travel industry, food and drink, fashion, or furniture sectors. By catering to such variety, brands can find it very difficult to predict any of the results of using that influencer. That’s why, already, more of the smaller influencer accounts are taking a more specialized approach. Not only does this make it easier for brands to find the right influencer, but it also means that the influencer themselves can diversify as they grow. Many will already have several different profile pages that specialize in specific niche industries, and this is only going to become more common.
More Data Than Ever
Data is, of course, the defining feature of modern marketing, and influencers are going to have to understand just how much it’s going to keep on changing the industry. Any influencer who doesn’t yet know how to read, understand, and respond to the analytics that they can access is going to fall behind their competitors. The value of data and the analysis of it cannot be overstated, and brands will have to work with their influencers to develop fully comprehensive marketing plans that take into account audience demographics, geography, and platform variations.
The Customer Influencer
Already of growing importance in 2020, the continued rise of the customer as an influencer is going to continue well into 2021. Rather than paying for influencer campaigns, brands are instead promoting those people that are leaving positive reviews for their products and services unprompted on their social platforms. That’s because influencer marketing is all about authenticity, and an unprompted, unpaid ad will always be more impactful than a generic post by someone being paid to produce and post that content. For this reason, even brand employees are growing in value as potential influencers. After all, who knows a brand and its product more than its existing customers and those that work in the company?
Ignoring the continued popularity of new platforms like TikTok will leave brands behind, and failing to keep up with the expected influencer trends of 2021 means losing out on audience growth and increased profitability. For those brands that are not yet using influencers, the time to make the shift to this form of marketing is now. Failure to understand the effectiveness of influencers or the evolving trends in influencer marketing means missing out on one of the most effective new forms of brand growth available in the digital age.