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5 Influencer Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021

by Koussey

2020 was a rough year for everyone. We had to adapt in so many ways on both a professional and a personal level. But working in the influencer marketing industry, we've seen brands increasingly using social media content creators to reach and interact with consumers. Influencers proved particularly suited for the situation with their tremendous creativity and work-from-home lifestyles.

So what about 2021? It will be a year of transition for most of the industries, but it looks like influencer marketing will be bigger than ever. Analysts tell us it is on track to become a $15 billion dollar industry by 2022. This year, 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.

Will you be one of them? Whether you’re thinking of incorporating influencer marketing into your brand strategy, or would like to achieve greater ROI from your existing efforts, here are five defining trends to keep your eye out for this year.

1. Live Streaming will not slow down

We've basically spent the last year at home, with very few human interactions and close to zero real-life connections. So savvy marketers and influencers tried to fill the gap and recreated live events via live streams, connecting with audiences in new, authentic and meaningful ways. It's happening everywhere: on social networks (IGTV, Twitch, Clubhouse, etc.) but also on e-commerce platforms (Amazon, Alibaba, Shopee, etc.).

The result? Live streaming saw a massive 92% growth in 2020, with more than 10bn hours of content watched across all live streaming platforms. 91% of businesses planning to continue streaming post-pandemic and 81% confirming it’ll be a social media priority in 2021.

In 2021, brands will:

  • Continue (co-)hosting live streaming to connect with their audience
  • Develop new formats and mechanics to engage their consumers

2. TikTok will continue its quest for world domination

TikTok’s continual rise to social media dominance was perhaps the most game-changing of all trends. TikTok has done an excellent job to incentivize influencers to post on the site. The Creator Fund was first set up in the US, paying influencers for their work. There’s now a similar fund for influencers in the UK and Europe, so we can expect to see more influencers making TikTok a platform of choice.

For brands targeting Gen Z, it’ll be the place to develop a presence. Tiktok now boasts 800 million users (on their way to surpass 1 billion monthly active users), a stunning 75% of whom are daily active users.

In 2021, brands will:

  • Develop a presence on TikTok
  • Target Gen Z and their purchasing power

3. A Focus on Diversity and Inclusion

2020 saw a dramatic increase in social activism. It wasn’t just COVID-19 and the “new normal”; it was the #BLM movement, climate change, inequality, mental health, and diversity and inclusion.

As a social media manager, perhaps you’ve created campaigns in the past for Black History Month, Women’s History Month or Pride, or posted about holidays recognizing marginalized groups of people. You might have recently published a corporate statement in support of Black Lives Matter and racial justice.

Actually, this is becoming crucial. People expect the companies they shop with and the organizations they support to take a stand. In fact, 70% of U.S. consumers say it’s important for brands to take a stand on social and political issues.

In 2021, brands will:

  • Make a concerted effort to work with influencers from all walks of life
  • Be transparent about their supply chain
  • Be urged to share info on business inclusivity and equality

4. Deeper Connections with Followers

In 2020, influencers and brands took a step back from perfectly curated feeds to get a little more “real” with their followers. Now more than ever, people want to see a real glimpse into the lives of influencers and the day-to-day operations of the brand. Providing some type of content that shows your life with no filter will be key to growing online these days

During the lockdowns, we've observed a vast number of Q&As, IGTV, YouTube videos, and other “not so glamorous” posts from influencers.

What it means is that brands also need to take authenticity into account when searching for influencer partners: look at the comments they receive and the way they connect with their audience on Instagram Stories.

In 2021, brands will:

  • Not only consider numbers (engagement rate, follower base, etc.)
  • Take into account the way influencers communicate with their followers

5. Celebrity influencers will continue to decline

Many reasons can explain why celebrity influencers are not as trendy as they used to be.

We’d already seen celebrity posts scrapping any feel of authenticity with a caption obviously written by the brand and revealing the transactional nature of promotional posts. We’d also witnessed partnerships that just didn’t work.

But it's mostly that they are not people you can relate to. And this feeling has been further exacerbated in 2020 when many looked disconnected from the day-to-day worries that many people were experiencing.

Celebrities may reach large audiences but without true brand alignment and authenticity, that marketing budget is best spent elsewhere. Enter micro-influencers, who in 2021 will become a brand’s first port of call, making influencer marketing worth it. These just-like-us Creators will produce content and engagement figures that justify the marketing investment.

In 2021, brands will:

  • Build long-lasting relationships with their ambassadors
  • Create programs with nano and micro-influencers

Which influencer marketing trends will your brand capitalize on in 2021?

Written by Koussey

Koussey is a cofounder of Capssion