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10 Influencer Trends that Matter for 2021

1/8/2021
— WE Communications 

By Renee Sundgren, Social Media Manager, Australia, and Aileen Troy, Senior Social Media Executive, Australia

 

Globally, influencer marketing is fast approaching a $10 billion industry, with predictions for 2021 seeing success for brands using influencer strategies across all sectors.

As we kick off 2021, here are 10 considerations for the coming year:

 

1. Performance-based collaborations will become the new norm

With increased pressure to drive results, we will see a rise in pay-per-performance-based influencer collaborations. This will result in a reworking of contracts, giving influencers a percentage of the conversions they achieve for a brand.

As part of this push for data-driven results, unique discount codes and trackable links will become increasingly common, revealing true ROI in a way that was difficult before.

 

2. Micro and nano influencers over celebs

Consumer behavior shows that 70% of audiences trust social media creators more than they do traditional celebrities. Micro and nano influencers — influencers with less than 100,000 and 10,000 followers, respectively — are seeing this chain reaction with increased brand support.

As brands look to generate engagement and achieve the greatest ROI, they should look to influencers with hyper-relevant niche audiences who boast higher engagement rates.

 

3. Annual partnerships and brand ambassador programs are on the rise

To date, most brands engage influencers for one-off campaigns, but building long-term influencer relationships can showcase authenticity for the social community and generate a greater ROI. 40% of influencers would continue to post about the brand they created the most paid content for without compensation.

To build strong, lasting relationships with creators, brands should take a long-term view with their campaign partnerships.

 

4. Brand purpose will take center stage

Influencers are scrutinizing the brands they partner with and turning down brands that do not match their values.

This year, influencers will be looking closely to see if brands share their values, support the same social causes, produce socially conscious products and aim for inclusivity. This presents a unique opportunity for brands to engage consumers, tap into meaningful conversations and build trust. Take a leaf from luxury skincare brand La Mer’s playbook. As a brand that championed marine habitat protection, it partnered with influencers passionate about environmental issues and brought together the group for a beach cleanup day. The resulting content generated strong engagement and helped spread awareness of the cause.

In 2021, it's not enough to only care about social causes — a brand must take action and let its followers know what it is doing.

 

5. Authenticity will be at the core of collaborations

Influencers understand the importance of establishing trust with their followers and know how to build their credibility authentically. This explains why 66% of influencers say they will only work with brands they genuinely like. In 2021, this trend will only become more prevalent.

Before identifying influencers for a campaign, marketers should take the time to conduct social listening to find existing influential customers that might fit the bill.

 

6. Employee influencer programs will get a promotion

Fun fact: content shared by company employees typically receives 8 times more engagement than content shared through the brand. As LinkedIn continues to be a key channel for employee advocates in 2021, it’s the perfect time to encourage employees to get involved in using brand-specific hashtags and liking, sharing, and advocating!

 

7. Gaming communities will unite like never before

Brands looking to reach millennials and Generation Z cannot overlook core gaming community platforms, and gaming influencers are happy to help. Twitch, the popular streaming platform, has 17.5 million average daily visitors who spent 1.3 billion hours watching streams in December 2020 alone. Discord is also becoming a wildly popular platform for conversations off-stream.

In 2020, fast-food giant KFC aggressively courted gaming communities, collaborating with Twitch streamers to keep the brand at top of mind. More recently, it made waves after it unveiled the “KFConsole,” a new gaming console that doubles as a food warmer.

If millennials and Gen Z are a brand’s target audience, it's worth exploring opportunities with influencers on these platforms.

 

8. Video — hot today, hotter tomorrow

Video content will continue to dominate the influencer marketing space. 2020 proved that TikTok cannot be ignored — the platform looks to surpass 1 billion monthly active users this year. With Instagram’s Reels, IGTV and live features, influencers are using video for a chance to be creative like never before.

Most importantly, Instagram Stories represents an affordable entry point into top and mid-tier influencer collabs — so much that 78% of brands say Stories has significantly impacted their influencer marketing content. Video should be a key focus when developing content ideas and strategies — don't be afraid to get creative with platform features!

 

9. Pinterest becomes a major player

Increases in online shopping, home renovations and time spent online have been kind to Pinterest, enabling the platform’s massive 26% year over year growth. An impressive two in three “Pinners” say that Pinterest is their go-to source for identifying products they can trust, and 47% of "Pinners" log into the site specifically to shop.

As more influencers build their presence on the platform, Pinterest’s clout will grow in 2021. Have a “Pin-friendly” campaign in mind? It's time to expand platform horizons and take advantage of a growing audience.

 

10. Calibrate content strategy for a captive audience

With more time spent at home and screen time at a record high, most influencers said that content has changed due to COVID-19. 72% report a stronger focus on “at-home” content, 51% share more self-care content and 44% admit they are only posting about products they feel are worth the cost.

When developing a user-generated content strategy, it's important to consider how this translates into the new norm of content — focusing on providing value, being authentic and COVID-19 sensitive.

 

Influencer marketing can only grow from here

Influencer marketing has come a long way. As the pandemic continues to disrupt traditional channels, brands must evolve with their audiences. Influencers will continue to be a great avenue for brand promotion and, increasingly, a platform to communicate social good. As brands approach influencer marketing this year, cultivating authentic relationships and long-term collaborations will be central for success.