By Dafydd Woodward, Global MD, INCA
Influencer marketing is ever-changing. Over the years, digital technologies have developed and innovations have emerged, providing influencers with an evolving outlet to express themselves authentically; an attribute which resonates well with audiences.
Today, this influence is being realised and valued by marketers. In a survey conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub, 90% of respondents said they believed influencer marketing to be effective.
Thanks to the growing acknowledgement of the role influencer marketing plays in the wider mix, the question brands ask is no longer why use it but how to use it.
In 2022, I believe there will be five key drivers behind the evolution of the influencer marketing industry, so what do brands need to know for the year ahead?
1. ‘The Metaverse’ Meets Influence
Facebook officially changed its name to Meta, a move that stems from the company’s long-term plans to build the next big thing: ‘the metaverse’. Although not yet fully realised, Mark Zuckerberg describes it as an interactive digital space where users don’t simply consume content but are fully immersed in it.
There is now a particular focus on how ‘the metaverse’ might impact the influencer marketing space and what opportunities it could provide for brands. Communicating with followers and large, established communities comes naturally to influencers, which makes them ideal candidates to engage in this virtual space. Influencer marketing is also primed to lean into the possibilities that blockchain technology provides, be they NFTs, crypto-currencies or crypto-tokens. In 2022, we will see the emergence of these technologies within the creator economy.
2. A New Era of Creator Commerce
After another year of lockdowns and social restrictions, consumers have become even more reliant on technology, giving rise to a pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce. According to eMarketer, the social commerce market surged 37.9% to $26.77 billion in 2020 and social commerce sales in 2022 will reach $44 billion in the US alone.
Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest are responding to this change in behaviour, dedicating significant resources to the ongoing development of commerce capabilities.
TikTok, for instance, revealed a new range of features at its first product showcase event, TikTok World 2021. The video-sharing platform announced innovative tools such as ‘Instant Pages’ and ‘Pop-up Showcase’, designed to improve brand and creator collaboration and drive specific attributable actions from consumers.
The power of influencer recommendation coupled with the rise of e-commerce and continued investment in social shoppability means influencer marketing holds strong potential to drive sales for brands in the near future. Intelligent content distribution and leading commerce technology should be the top considerations for brands whose goal is to convert influencer followers into consumers.
3. QVC-Like Live Shopping Could Become a Staple in Social Commerce
Staying with the topic of social commerce technology and techniques, influencer live shopping offers brands a way to tap into an engaged audience and drive immediate impact. Drawing inspiration from television channels such as QVC, live shopping puts brands and products at the heart of a sales-oriented content experience, fronted by influencers as “presenters.”
On Pinterest and Amazon Live, for example, influencers can broadcast a live stream discussing their favourite products in an authentic, conversational style that resonates with followers. This longer-form content provides an efficient way to deliver specific details about a product to an audience that’s receptive to sales messaging, streamlining the journey to purchase.
Live shopping connects brands to consumers in a place where their target audience is actively seeking product information, usability and recommendations. Consequently, live shopping will likely be a more prevalent and familiar element of influencer marketing in 2022.
4. Measurement Will Align With Other Media Channels
Historically, the measurement of influencer campaigns has been overlooked by marketers. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, one-third of marketers admit that they do not measure ROI from their influencer campaigns but the market is maturing.
As creator commerce gains more traction among brands, measurement will come to reflect the metrics used for other media channels in the mix. This is because brands leveraging commerce to drive sales will gain more robust insight and effectiveness data due to the clear correlation between ad spend, sales and ROI.
As a result, the value of influencer marketing in the media plan is on an upward trend. With stronger measurement capabilities, brands will shift more spend from traditional to influencer marketing and more brands will adopt this technique to deliver meaningful outcomes. Marketers will have a greater focus on insights, enabling them to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by influencer marketing and maximise their operational and media efficiency.
5. Content Amplification Will Become Crucial
Brands invest heavily in content generation but how can they make their investments work harder? One answer is content amplification. Boosting content using platform integrations and partnerships helps to maximise reach and engagement beyond organic audiences.
This type of advanced distribution drives further scale outside of a creator’s organic network, using a combination of influencer-generated content and other paid channels, for instance social media and even digital out of home (DOOH) or connected TV (CTV). Brands can then achieve more quantifiable results across top, mid and lower-funnel marketing objectives, generating better ROI from the influencer relationship.
Content amplification also builds trust with followers through continuity, creating a long-lasting impression and prolonged brand awareness.
As part of this trend, brands will begin to embrace an ‘always on’ strategy, unlocking more consumer insights with the ability to assess content, creator and audience data as it fluctuates across channels over time.
These insights can then be used to inform and strengthen a brand’s overall marketing strategy, consolidating influencer marketing as a vital part of the mix.
In 2022, a larger number of marketers will adopt and refine their influencer marketing strategies as new capabilities allow them to realise their full potential. From social commerce to advanced measurement and distribution, emerging trends are deepening the value of influencer marketing for brands looking to drive quantifiable business outcomes.