“Influence depends on how much value you can provide to someone.” – Nicolas Cole
The ongoing rise and diversification of social media have been accompanied by the introduction and subsequent explosion of influencer marketing. Now one of the top ways brands advertise their products, influencer marketing has proven to be an effective and accessible means of getting the word out about a product or service.
For many brands, collaborations with authentic influencers have played a tremendous role in growing awareness and establishing trust within various target audiences—a phenomenon that ultimately drives sales.
That being said, the increasingly broad swath of those considered to be “influencer material” means that a number of them have been involved in scandals or gotten themselves into trouble for speaking out freely on their social platform of choice. In certain cases, it has led to trouble for the brands they support, with some influencers even being dropped.
What’s more, with the pandemic largely changing the topography (both literally and figuratively) of the influencer landscape, many brands are rethinking their strategies in order to adapt to the new ways customers are interacting. So, what does the future of this fertile niche or marketing look like? Let’s take a look at some of the trends currently shaping influencer marketing.
The rules are changing and we are seeing a more targeted approach
What it means to be a celebrity today is changing. There is no longer one firmly established class of super celebrity that everyone from your kid sister to great uncle Joe has heard of. These days, the nature of fame and who is considered famous is shifting more towards a situation where we have many tiers of celebrity.
And as many brands are already well aware, it is often those smaller celebrities that have a much more specific and dedicated audience. As Cody Candee of Bounce told Forbes, “now you can have a teenage TikTok star with a massive audience of other teens, and they will be way more influential on that audience than the old mega-celebrities of rock stars and A-list actors. I think brands can choose from a wider range of celebrities now who may not be as globally famous but are even more influential with a specific audience. That kind of targeted influence can have great results.”
There’s an appetite for authenticity and wellbeing
The pandemic caused a whole litany of problems for people, and one of the consequences of this reality is that customers now expect a more meaningful and mindful approach. When we were all forced to search for new ways of filling our lives with meaning and content, many consumers lost their taste for the frivolity and excess that dominated a lot of pre-pandemic influencer marketing. Therefore, influencers are taking on a different role that is more focused on educative content that fosters wellbeing. Now is not the time to promote excesses in lifestyles or other tropes that many consumers have come to find distasteful.
Are there any potential problems for brands looking to experiment with influencer marketing?
As mentioned above, influencer marketing comes with its fair share of risks. Thus, we are likely to see the practice become more regulated as brands seek to lower their liability and avoid becoming caught up in any potential scandal or backlash. We are already starting to see this play out in contractual agreements that prevent influencers from making off-script statements on social media.
Unfortunately, this has the potential to produce a loss of credibility as audiences sense that the influencers they once admired are being disingenuous. As Tyler Gallagher of Regal Assets explained to Forbes, “It’s a vicious cycle that might see the end of influencer marketing as we know it, as, eventually, nobody will have faith that the influencer is being genuine.”
Although this definitive end he alludes to is not likely to be reached any time soon, it is crucial for brands to be aware of the forces shaping the future of influencer marketing and forge any alliances carefully. To better understand how influencer marketing could support your brand, get in touch to speak with one of our experts about how this component of the advertising world is changing.