The Future of Influencer Marketing Is Here

The Continued Rise of Micro and Nano-Influencers

Micro-influencers will continue to be more powerful than celebrity influencers for authentic engagement with a brand’s target audiences. In 2020, more than 46% of brand mentionsfeaturing the hashtag #ad were published by Instagram accounts with 1k-20k followers. That will undoubtedly grow at least to 50% this year, if not more. Almost one-third of Instagram channels are currently micro-influencers with fewer than 100k followers. Mega-influencers and celebrities with over 5 million followers make up less than 1% of all influencers.

Specialized Influencers

Brands will also be looking to work with specialized influencers that have deep niches, which supports better engagement rates. For instance, instead of food & beverage influencers, brands may engage influencers who specialize in organic foods or foods for specific allergies or sensitivities. Beauty brands will connect through influencers that fit their brand’s specific niche, such as sustainability or affordability.

Employees as Influencers

One group of specialized influencers are employees. Employees are often the first — and sometimes only — true connection customers have with a brand. That is likely why content shared by company employees typically receives 8x more engagement.

Video: Still the King of Content

We can expect to see an even greater focus on creating assets beyond posts, with video on Instagram Stories and Reels, YouTube, and Facebook. In 2020, video ads were the top wayconsumers discovered brands they later purchased.

Performance-Based Influencer Marketing

Gone are the days of measuring the success of posts simply by how much engagement they receive. While engagement is certainly still an excellent indicator, we can expect to see a much bigger push toward measurements that mean bigger bottom lines.

SEO Comes to Influencer Marketing

Until this year, searching topics on Instagram required the use of hashtags, but this will no longer be the case. Searching with keywords will now be possible, meaning that exposure to new followers will increase exponentially. For instance, instead of searching hashtags for #organicrecipes or #crueltyfreemakeup and hoping for extensive results, users will be able to search by keywords for a larger return on accounts and posts.

How AI Is Shaping Influencer Marketing

While AI technology has made creating virtual influencers look and interact like real people, it is highly doubtful that these influencers will become the norm. Authentic influencers have a personal connection and a trusted voice with their audience. Influencers generated by computers may offer inspiration, but they will likely elicit a real feeling of betrayal when a follower or customer realizes the virtual influencer is not a real person.

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