Influencer marketing in 2022: key trends
The influencer marketing industry is set for explosive growth, building on impressive gains made in recent years. Emily Do looks at the 2022 trends in influencers.
Recent studies forecast that 72.5 percent of US marketers from companies with 100 or more employees will use influencer marketing in 2022. These numbers are up from 70 percent in 2021. At the same time, eMarketer has forecast US spending on influencer marketing will climb by this year to $4.14 billion.
On a global scale, Influencer Marketing Hub has estimated that the industry will grow to a collective $16.4 billion in 2022.
Influencers across a broad range of social media platforms – from TikTok and Instagram to Twitch and YouTube – are driving an evolution of the eCommerce space.
But it won’t be just B2C brands that champion this segment growth. B2B players are also realising the sales potential of such partnerships. These businesses are eager to demonstrate social proof, while tapping into new content and audiences. Indeed, this is driving a new focus on influencer discovery, recruitment, and engagement.
A bigger share of influencer marketing budgets will go to nano- and micro-influencers as brands prioritise content creation over audience reach. While TikTok may have paved the way for such possibilities, other social platforms have quickly followed suit and have expanded their creator tools for smaller influencers.
Influencer marketing predictions
Here are some of the trends that will come to define influencer marketing in the year ahead.
1. More sophisticated tools
A cool 50 million people considered themselves to be part of the creator economy in 2020, according to eMarketer. That number is only set to soar in the wake of the pandemic, work-from-home orders, and the Great Resignation.
As more people brand themselves creators and seek to monetise their audiences, the race will be on to clearly define the value proposition to prospective brand partners. As such, social media platforms will need to provide creators with better monetisation and monitoring tools. TikTok has already demonstrated how quickly a new entrant can establish a dominant position in the market.
2. Closing the cookie jar
Third-party cookies have defined the modern marketing landscape. There’s been plenty written already on the death of the cookie, there’s little to be gained in rehashing it. Instead, it’s worth considering how influencers actually represent something of a safe harbour for digital marketing professionals.
Influencers don’t have audiences, they have followings. Followers aspire to the lifestyles of those they subscribe to on social media. Most influencers tend to sit within a niche segment – health and wellbeing, beauty, fashion, sports, etc. As the industry talks about “cohorts” as a replacement for cookies, influencers have already achieved this.
3. An auditory and visual feast
Podcasts and short-form videos emerged as something of panacea to the concept of being time-poor. Time poverty doesn’t just exist in relation to work or household responsibilities, it also reflects the overabundance of media consumption options.
Between sleep, work, friends, and family, few of us have much time left over to consume media. In the previous century, technology was a limiter on the scope of our media consumption. The internet has fundamentally changed that dynamic, bringing a wealth of options that has created the paradox of choice.
Audio and visual mediums are simply more engaging mediums than text for most and so will continue to grab market share in the coming years.
4. Influencers as partners
Brands will seek to work more closely with their influencers. These relationships see influencers being treated as partners rather than contractors.
At the end of the day, influencers know their followers better than a brand does. This means there are valuable insights for marketing executives to gain that can then be applied across wider demographics.
Influencer and affiliate marketing in the consumer journey
The consumer journey has become incredibly complex in the wake of the digital marketing revolution. Consumers will see and interact with hundreds of touch points prior to making a purchase.
Influencers offer a wave of introducing the consumer to a brand, product, and service, but by empowering them to convert the consumer helps brands to streamline the sales funnel.
Every little bit helps. As such, expect to see a greater convergence between influencer and affiliate marketing activities, which will not only generate uplift in conversion rates but will allow brands to more fully assess the value of their marketing spend.
Nano and micro-influencers: good things, small packages
This focus on assessing value in the consumer journey has already led to the rise of the nano and micro-influencer.
These influencers offer an attractive value proposition not because they are a cheaper alternative to macro-influencers but because they frequently boost much higher engagement levels.
Small-scale influencers have greater interaction with their followers, who do not see themselves as part of a homogenised audience. This allows them to drive brand loyalty and customer retention.
Influencer marketing in the affiliate space
Here are our key recommendations on what to evaluate when considering influencer marketing within the affiliate space.
1. Understand influencers’ channels
Influencers rarely rely on a sole social media platform, frequently leaning on secondary channels to augment their communications.
Brands should carefully audit an influencer’s reach as well as their own marketing materials to decide how best to promote products and services. Certain products, services and even creative formats will work better on some channels than others.
2. Forge closer ties
Influencers are not sales staff. Their followers are accustomed to their personas and understand when they are promoting or shilling a brand. Engagement levels will generally reflect this.
Partner with your chosen influencer to understand how best to reach their audience in an authentic manner. The aim of this game is trust.
3. Invest, don’t hire
Think of your influencers as an investment. Don’t see payment as the only means of motivation, but rather ensure that you have open lines of communication and offer opportunities to collaborate when suitable.
Consider investing in them – either with money or training – to make them a better advocate for your brand.
4. Make a stand, carefully
While millennials may be the most open to social influences, they are also the most socially minded. Most millennials believe that the companies they buy from should be in step with their own beliefs and values.
Against this backdrop, brands need not only to have a clear mission statement but also be careful in their selection of the influencers they partner with.
Emily Do is the APAC region events and marketing manager at Commission Factory.