It goes without saying that the COVID pandemic drastically changed the digital marketing landscape in that it accelerated the growth of ecommerce while it also showed the emerging need for influencer marketing.
While influencer marketing is not something new, it is a dynamic industry that evolves non-stop and according to recent data, the value of that market more than doubled between 2019 and 2021 reaching 13.8 billion U.S. dollars from a 6.5 billion figure three years ago.
So, it has become clear for brands in 2022 that content creators and influencers are the go-to strategies to reach and engage their audience since they are capable of creating reactive content.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the 6 emerging influencer marketing trends that businesses need to be aware of in 2022! But first …
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing involves a public figure or celebrity endorsing your product or service. The usual channel where such promotions happen is social media.
There are various influencer types apart from celebrities like Kim Kardashian, and these are micro-influencers, nano-influencers, kidfluencers, gaming influencers, and the more recent virtual (computer-generated) influencers.
Now, let’s dig deep into the top emerging trends!
1. Social Commerce Will Open New Opportunities for Sponsorships
Brands had a hard time through 2020 to connect with their audiences, with the most difficulties existing for brick-and-mortar stores trying to hop quickly into the eCommerce wagon.
The need for social media presence and a reliable email newsletter software that would allow them to send personalized offers to their customers while also automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks was evident. And while email marketing is a long proven method to drive huge ROI, social commerce is the emerging theme in 2022.
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Combined with email marketing techniques, shoppable videos and shoppable posts can help create a seamless user experience from influencer content to brand channels. As a result, there will be more and more sponsorship opportunities for influencers.
These innovations in social commerce are gradually gaining popularity in consumers’ minds and brands will surely want to integrate shoppable content in their influencer marketing campaigns.
2. Brands Will Focus on Building Long-Term Relationships
Finding the right influencer to work with can be a tedious and costly process for brands. They need to weigh in a plethora of factors such as their reputation, number of followers, engagement rates, etc.
With the increasing number of influencers, brands are expected to try and form meaningful, long-term relationships with influencers who tick the right boxes.
There are various reasons behind this, with the most important being the amount of time needed to make a sale.
Brands can enjoy a twofold benefit from creating long-term relationships with influencers instead of employing one-time sponsored posts. Not only will the influencers be more motivated to create the best content for the brand, but it will also be easier for them to achieve the desired result, as compared to a one-off attempt.
In short, continuous promotion increases people’s trust in the brand, the influencers become “assets” and they strive for the business’ success, while the end result is more genuine and beneficial for both contracted parties.
So, influencers are advised to be prepared and create packages for sponsored posts over a period of time, to be able to capitalize on this trend.
3. Nano- and Micro-Influencers Are on the Rise
While being able to reach a huge amount of people at once is a benefit, having a highly engaged audience is more if not equally important. We know that people like doing business with brands that they can feel a connection with or relate to, and that’s exactly what micro- and nano-influencers can achieve.
This opens more opportunities for businesses with more limited budgets to get a significant amount of conversions at a lower cost, due to the high engagement rates. Brands utilizing this tactic are the well-known brand Daniel Wellington and La Croix Sparkling Water, as in the example below.
The company taps into micro-influencers on Instagram to share product awareness and get discovered by their target audience, which is millennials. By doing so, the social media posts have a unique “realness” and authenticity that younger audiences tend to appreciate.
4. CGI Influencers Will Gain More Traction
I’m sure you are aware of the use of CGI for movie productions but have you heard about CGI influencers before? If not, read closely because they seem to be the “rising stars” of the next years’ influencer marketing.
Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) influencers, or virtual influencers, may not be real, but it’s definitely hard to distinguish them from real-life influencers. They are a product-creation of an entire team of programmers, designers, and social media managers working together to instill life to them through technology. You can find these CGI influencers on social media platforms, relaxing at beautiful locations and stating their opinions on hot social issues.
Moreover, since technology is involved, new types of highly shareable content will emerge with the potential for virality.
Nevertheless, the value of CGI influencers has already been recognized by various known brands, such as UGG, Prada, and Diesel. All of the aforementioned brands have partnered with one of the most popular CGI influencers, Lil Miquela, to “wow” their audiences.
One of the latest promotions featuring Lil Miquela is from the car brand, Mini. The Instagram promotion is fun, engaging, and “unique”, while the CGI influencer perfectly fits the concept of the commercial.
With an audience of 3 million followers, the CGI influencer has a massive reach, while the brand benefits from complete control over the campaign and it also eliminates any chances of human error in the process.
5. Employees as Influencers
A product of evolution and innovation, as well as a consequence of the need for authentic content in the influencer marketing space, is the encouragement of employees to act as influencers.
In the past, we’ve seen various instances of user-generated content (UGC) and how it can have a tremendous impact on sales and the overall brand perception. Employee-driven or employee-generated content works in the same way.
Specifically, when an employee supports their brand, the endorsement feels more genuine. And that’s something that a social media influencer cannot easily match. Moreover, since employees are already engaged with the content, marketing, and operations of the company, the result adds reliability and trust to the campaign.
Despite all these, it can be argued that employee-driven content somewhat challenges the original definition of influencers. However, brands can only benefit from such a strategy because now they can be more involved in how their campaigns are run.
Some examples of brands leveraging employee advocacy programs include H&M, L’Oreal, and Starbucks.
Starbucks labels its employees as Partners and encourages them to be creative and share their experiences with the world. The employee-generated content is also aligned with their brand narrative. Other brands like Macy’s even offer cool incentives for employees to do so.
Overall, this influencer marketing trend is a win-win strategy for both businesses and employees since it helps strengthen brands’ relationships with employees while getting more visibility and content on social platforms.
6. Social Justice in Marketing
2020 was a year that brought a significant shift in the way that consumers think, shop, and entertain themselves. Apart from historic events such as the pandemic lockdowns and the unavoidable economic uncertainty, social justice movements like Black Lives Matter came to the forefront.
Up until today, most brands chose the path of “avoiding” hot political or social justice topics, or simply staying silent. But now, silence is seen as equivalent to complicity. As a result, more and more brands will realize this lack of equality and diversity in influencer marketing.
The way brands choose influencers to partner with will be impacted, and we’ll probably start observing a more diverse selection of influencers emerging. Consumers, and especially Gen Z, have started to support brands that put actions behind their words instead of simply issuing a statement or promoting a donation.
The social platforms of Instagram and TikTok have already brought the spotlight to anti-black and anti-fat movements. The pressure will now be on influencers to carefully select which brands they are partnering with.
When it comes to diversity and inclusion, 2022 is going to be the year that influencer marketing campaigns will gradually begin to authentically reflect the range of human differences.
While all of these trends are equally important for businesses, the last two of them seem to be the ones that will majorly reshape the influencer marketing landscape of 2022 and beyond.
Influencer marketing is constantly changing and evolving, so it’s essential for brands to stay up-to-date with the latest trends so as to form deeper relationships with their audience while maintaining an efficient way to engage and convert them into customers.
One of our experts will get back in touch with you soon.