Top Influencer Marketing Trends To Watch Out For in 2021
Over the past several years, many businesses have incorporated influencer marketing into their growth strategy. In 2020, influencer collaborations have only further gained popularity with the global pandemic severely impacting traditional advertising paths. As many marketing activities became limited due to the restrictions brought by Covid-19, new marketing tactics have risen with the world’s bigger focus on social media and online influencers.
In this article, CloutBoost sifts through the key social media and influencer marketing trends and presents actionable insights brands can leverage. Embracing these trends can help your business create a winning influencer marketing strategy in 2021 and beyond.
1. Video content is becoming more important than ever before
2020 saw video content grow tenfold. Social distancing restrictions that were implemented worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant people spent increased hours watching videos online. Sounds familiar?
While TikTok has helped to accelerate the video content growth trend, YouTube is still the most-watched social media platform for video content. YouTube counts two billion logged-in monthly users worldwide and ranks as the most widely used online platform among US adults.
While only 36 percent of influencer marketers used the platform for their campaigns in 2020, YouTube remains a platform of ever-growing opportunity for advertisers.
Data shows that people turn to YouTube not just for entertainment. According to Google, people watch videos to see products before making a purchase, and 60 percent of YouTube subscribers say that they would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite video creator over celebrities.
A perfect example of the power of YouTube influencer marketing is that of MrBeast (moniker of North Carolina native Jimmy Donaldson). MrBeast’s philanthropic efforts and storytelling style have garnered him a huge YouTube following. His sponsorship with Honey generated 32 million views and over 250,000 new users and allowed Honey to effectively engage the audience.
As brands shift from video-interrupting ads to more native-style content with influencers, YouTube is set to be a favored platform of choice for marketers with a high ROI.
2. Live video content to skyrocket
Live content has seen a massive jump in viewership, with Twitch clocking in a record-breaking 17 billion hours of live video watched in 2020, which is 83 percent higher than 2019’s 9 billion hours.
With the massive uptick in Twitch viewership, there has also been a huge rise in the popularity of streamers, which has given rise to Twitch influencers. Businesses are taking advantage of partnering up with Twitch influencers, as this tactic has proven to be a very effective way of product advertising.
One of the most notable companies that has benefited from Twitch influencer sponsorships is GFuel, the Official Energy Drink of Esports. GFuel was named to the Inc. 5000 list and has ranked among the fastest-growing private companies in the nation for the fifth year in a row. The brand’s marketing strategy heavily relies on Twitch streamer partnerships with creators like Mongraal and DrDisrespect promoting GFuel on their channels.
YouTube Live and Facebook Live reportedly also experienced a major increase in their viewership in 2020. These channels are now actively used to host online events due to the massive suspension of in-person venues.
Even Instagram which is traditionally known for photo content introduced Live video format. Instagram influencers can now go live and communicate with their fans in real-time which helps increase user engagement. Brands are utilizing this new feature in their Instagram influencer campaigns, take REVOLVE as an example.
$1.2 billion fashion retailer REVOLVE switched up its regular Instagram Live ‘travel squad’ influencer campaign. Rather than traveling around the world, brand influencers traveled around their homes and focused on promoting home-friendly products.
3. Gaming video content is shooting force
The gaming community has a massive influence on social media trends. In fact, in 2020 YouTube Gaming had its biggest year ever with 100B watch time hours and 40M+ active gaming channels. Competing services saw a comparable climb in popularity — the above-mentioned Twitch or Facebook Gaming hit record viewership in 2020.
A subtrend mobile marketers should be aware of is the rise of “handcam” gaming videos. In this format, players point their cameras at their hands to record their movements as they play a video game. Videos with “handcam” in the title accounted for over 1 billion YouTube views last year. This growth can be clearly linked to the growth of viewership of mobile gaming content on YouTube.
YouTube gamers can help mobile games hit the top of the charts. Collaboration with gaming YouTubers helped introduce Exos Heroes game to an audience of over 2.6 million — this mobile game marketing case study reveals the details of the campaign. TLDR: videos created by professional YouTubers can also be repurposed by the brand on other media platforms to fuel content marketing. Win, win.
4. Short-format video is on the rise
With TikTok leading the short-form video space, other platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook have jumped on the TikTok bandwagon and have started featuring short-form video formats in addition to their regular content. In 2020 YouTube introduced Shorts — a new short-form video experience for those who want to create short, catchy videos with their mobile phones. Instagram has also extended its content creation options by launching Instagram Reels — 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and other creative tools.
These bite-sized pieces of entertainment have birthed an entirely new type of video content and paved the way for the popularity of influencers.
Marketers are slowly starting to incorporate TikTok into their marketing strategy. While it’s still in its early stages, TikTok influencer marketing has shown promising results.
Grocery store Kroger used TikTok’s Hashtag Challenge offering to generate buzz about its back-to-school supplies. Using the hashtag #TransformUrDorm, the campaign encouraged college students to show off their decorated dorm rooms.
“One of our primary audiences are college students. Looking at the audience that’s using TikTok, about 42 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to test out the platform for this campaign,” said Kroger’s social media manager for influencer and publisher marketing, Casey Smith.
The campaign was a hit. It garnered 854 million views and directed traffic to the brand’s website by allowing users to shop for dorm-friendly treats like granola bars and popcorn.
Highly popular with Gen-Z — and the fastest growing influencer platform with more than one billion monthly active users — TikTok promises to be a great way for businesses looking to market to young audiences.
5. Focus on Performance Metrics
In the earlier stages of influencer marketing, when measuring the outcomes of their campaign, marketers mostly looked at such metrics as Reach, number of Views, Likes or Comments, and other surface-level metrics. These are often called vanity metrics, as they don’t reflect the true state of the campaign’s success.
Instead, businesses are now becoming more focused on performance-based campaigns. Metrics that matter include CTR, app installs or webpage conversions, and sales. Influencer campaigns are now built with clear expectations of the ROI they generate.
Just think about brands such as HiSmile. The self-funded teeth whitening business used almost all of its $20,000 budget on micro-influencers. Posting their product to influencers in return for shoutouts, the brand eventually became a hit and was later able to engage macro-influencers (Kylie Jenner included).
The company achieved $10 million in online sales after just 18 months in the market. Now that’s something to smile about.
6. Brands leaning more towards nano- and micro-influencers
With marketers aiming to maximize the ROI of their influencer campaigns, there’s a shift from celebrity and macro influencer marketing to micro-influencer marketing. And for good reason: micro-influencers have shown to generate 60 percent higher engagement rates than mega influencers and 22.2 times more conversions than celebrities.
“The one trend that will grow massively in 2021 will be the rise of micro and nano influencers,” says Anuja Deora Sanctis, Founder and CEO of Filter Coffee Co.
“This is mainly due to high engagement, authenticity, and low-costs and is relevant in the current scenario as most brands have slashed budgets.”
At a lower price point, micro-influencers (10,000-50,000 followers) and nano influencers (1,000-10,000 followers) are feasible options for smaller and emerging brands to incorporate into their marketing strategy.
Better yet, thanks to their small but targeted following, these influencers are generating better results than their big-following counterparts—and brand giants are taking note.
ASOS, Amazon, and Coca-Cola are among a growing list of global companies getting behind this influencer marketing trend. Google worked with the DIY-focused micro-influencers @thesorrygirls to promote its new Pixelbook laptop via a giveaway.
The single post received 11,137 likes, 7,916 comments, and earned an impressive engagement rate of 59.4 percent. Offering companies greater engagement and long-term relationships with consumer-base (at a cheap price), micro-influencers are delivering a better ROI.
This influencer marketing trend shows that the social media landscape is getting bigger and more diverse, and in turn is allowing brands to deliver their message to niche communities.
7. Influencer collaborations giving a sense of community
A big part of why influencers have become so popular in the last year stems from the fact that we’re all dealing with a pandemic together. With everyone still socially distancing, it effectively has limited us as a community. One major way that people have taken solace has been by getting involved with influencers, and their respective communities during this time.
It was once all about perfectly curated grids and using the right filter but the latest influencer marketing trend sees influencers adopt a more authentic social media presence. In 2020 the ‘No-Edit Edit’ became the new norm, with influencers focusing on delivering value-driven content and establishing deeper connections with their audience. These influencers have become highly sought after by brands.
“During the pandemic, both brands and influencers have experienced a shift in perspective, away from superficial, sales-driven content and toward more purposeful content with deeper meaning,” says Ismael El Qudsi, Co-Founder and CEO of SocialPubli.
“With mounting pressure from their communities to step up their game and stand for something, both brands and influencers are becoming more vocal about the causes they believe in”.
Some clickbait-style articles speculated 2020 to signal the end of the influencer but, once again, social media proved itself able to adapt to the changing environment. One thing is for sure, though: influencers will continue to create content, which means brands need to continue watching for new influencer marketing trends.
COVID-19 put a momentary end to international travel and big-scale productions, but successful influencers have been able to pivot their content style to grow their followers, engagement rates, and deliver objectives on behalf of brands.
Just like influencers, brands that lead the innovation and charge towards new ways of operating will reap the rewards.