Despite the economic slowdown and reviewed marketing budgets, influencers can breathe a sigh of relief that their industry is not showing signs of slowing down in 2023, at least according to HypeAuditor.
The platform, which helps marketers discover and analyse influencers on YouTube and Instagram, expects that brands will continue to invest in influencer marketing in the year ahead.
What exactly will that look like? Which direction will the influencer marketing industry go in 2023?
Here are HypeAuditor’s top four predictions:
1. The evolution of the influencer marketing industry and what the economic slowdown means for the sector
While overall marketing budgets may be revised downward, brands are likely to invest more in their partnerships with influencers to reduce their overall marketing costs. The reason is that influencer content is the cheapest form of branded content.
As a result of this shift in priorities and this greater focus on influencer marketing, Hypeauditor is also expecting that brands will increasingly move their activities with influencers in-house. Instead of focusing solely on one-off sponsored posts, as this has often been the case over the years, marketers will be encouraged to put their influencer marketing strategy at the centre of their overall objectives. There are multiple reasons for this, but essentially it comes down to ensuring the success of influencer marketing campaigns.
Indeed, with consumers increasingly tightening their purse strings in the face of higher costs of living, marketers will need to ensure that their collaborations with influencers remain relevant to them.
But aspirational content from influencers is likely to continue to attract a wide audience on social media. According to HypeAuditor data, lifestyle related posts, for instance, tend to attract the most engagement from users in terms of likes and comments on Instagram. The engagement rate for this category is higher than average.
Despite the bleak economic context, consumers are in fact more likely to welcome sponsored posts for temporary escapism, offering an excellent opportunity for brands to connect with their audiences.
2. Gaming Influencers gain momentum
Gaming influencers are a rapidly growing segment of influencers, globally, with a large audience on most social media platforms. They can range from skilled players who stream their gameplaying to millions of fans to professional video game players who compete in the up-and-coming esports space.
Gaming influencers are more accessible than they may seem at first glance. Their fans not only follow them for their high-level video game skills, but also for the tight-knit sense of community they have built both with the influencer and fellow fans.
This phenomenon is also encouraged by the legitimacy esport has gained. Overall, esport is estimated to grow at least another billion by 2025. Thanks to funds from advertising and sponsorships, prize money at national and international competitions has become significant, for example, the International 10 hosted by Valve, offered $40 million in pooled prize money.
Marketers will increasingly prioritise partnerships with gaming influencers, even if no obvious direct ties to the gaming community exist. While the gamers’ main platform might be Twitch or a similar streaming service, they often have a following on other social media platforms, such as Instagram. For instance, Samsung, Red Bull, and even Hershey are some of the brands that already have partnerships with Ninja, a top gaming streamer on Twitch. In 2023, more brands are expected to follow this path.
3. TikTok and Instagram’s reign continues
Two platforms remain the leading ones for brands when it comes to influencer marketing: Instagram and TikTok. Instagram’s reputation remains undisputed when it comes to influencer marketing. It continues to offer brands the most potential for their influencer marketing strategy.
But competition remains sharp with the ever-growing popularity of TikTok among Gen Z. TikTok’s continuous hype comes down to the many opportunities for influencers and users to express themselves creatively.
For a long time, marketers have understood the potential for these two platforms to authentically connect with their target audiences. But in the next year, they will increasingly adapt and diversify their marketing strategy to the specifics of these two platforms to fully reap the benefits they offer.
On Instagram, for example, the number of followers an influencer has remains a key metric to evaluate their popularity, however brands need to continue to be mindful of bots and inauthentic accounts before agreeing to any partnerships. According to HypeAuditor data, only 60 per cent of accounts on Instagram are estimated to be owned by real people.
Short format videos are the most successful on this platform as they effectively catch the short attention spans of audiences across all demographics.
TikTok ticks differently: on this platform, marketers should prioritise creative and entertaining content to generate the most engagement. The focus is more on the content rather than the influencer. “Authenticity” is in the foreground at TikTok, which is why nano- and micro-influencers are increasingly taking the reins.
4. The advantage of live shopping
Recently, live shopping has gained momentum and Hypeauditor expects retailers to increasingly prioritise live shopping in the year ahead.
Hypeauditor says it’s a “necessity” to provide a seamless omnichannel experience and adaptability of traditional retail features on social media platforms. TikTok and Instagram do provide good creation tools that retailers can rely on, but they also need to ensure an optimised integration with their own website.
It’s great to attract new customers in addition to the ones already retained in their website, but this also means retailers will need to be able to handle the increase (sometimes quite substantial) in numbers of users and generated orders. Scalability needs to be at the heart of their live shopping strategy.
Finally, companies will also need to make internal adjustments in terms of how they work transversally with their colleagues. Sales teams will need to be even more integrated with marketing teams in order to ensure the success of their live shopping strategy.
If retailers manage to achieve all this, live shopping is bound to turn into a major source of revenue for them in 2023.