It’s the new year, and with it comes a host of changes for marketers and influencers everywhere. In this blog post, we’re covering the biggest influencer marketing trends 2022 has in store.
Our trends cover everything from shifts in the state of influencer marketing to popular campaign strategies and everything else in between. Let’s dive into the top trends you need to know.
1. Influencer marketing is now mainstream
Influencer marketing isn’t just for consumer brands and super-celebrities anymore. Influencers from various niche industries and professions, like healthcare influencer Doctor Mike and legal influencer LegalEagle are partnering with service-based brands like CuriosityStream and NordVPN to deliver unique and valuable content to audiences.
As 2022 pushes forward, we’re going to see more influencers and brands with niche or unique backgrounds making co-marketed content and gaining viewers.
2. Lean in on videos
Video is the most popular and engaging content format online right now, and will only continue to grow. Cisco reports that in 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. This is 15 times higher than it was in 2017.
Smart influencer marketers will prioritize video content creators as they will provide the biggest bang for their budget.
3. Increased presence of purpose-driven campaigns
Expect to see more influencers participating in purpose-driven social media campaigns in 2022. Platforms like TikTok have always made a big deal about their role in driving awareness for charities, and last year saw significant participation in challenges like #CreativityForGood, which invited creators to produce video content that advertised for charities like the Malala Fund and the Red Cross.
While you don’t have to partner with large NGOs yourself, you can still get one of your influencer partners to assist in creating content for a purpose-driven campaign.
4. Follow creators across multiple platforms
Creators are becoming increasingly multi-platform as they try to both widen their reach and reduce their dependence on a single channel. This is good news for you, because a partnership with these creators can widen your reach as well.
And because creators are starting to host content on their own platforms (e.g. websites), it gives you the opportunity to experiment with different content formats.
5. Influencers becoming more specialized
Being an influencer is becoming a more viable career for many, which results in a greater need to stand out in an increasingly crowded field. This has led many influencers to specialize in an effort to stand out.
Be prepared to search influencers based on highly specific keywords, demographics, and attributes as they self-identify based on increasingly narrow topics and qualities.
6. Use of more highly-targeted influencer outreach
As brands get to know the influencer space more and match it with a deep understanding of their customers, we’re going to see narrower criteria for evaluating potential influencer partners the same way that search engine marketers target long-tail keywords.
Now, instead of simply casting a wide net for “parenting influencers,” brands will be looking for influencers that have a specific audience, such as “parenting influencers with middle school kids” or “soccer mom influencers.”
7. Increased attention on micro and nano influencers
As we covered in the previous point, brands are becoming more targeted in their approach towards influencer marketing. This means working with influencers whose audiences are smaller and more niche than “big ticket” influencers.
The biggest advantage of micro and nano influencers is that a greater proportion of their audiences are highly engaged than those of influencers with larger audiences. So partnering with a large number of micro and nano influencers may actually yield better results than investing all of your budget into a single, more “generic” influencer.
8. Shift to long-term collaborations
Many brand-influencer partnerships are starting to look very similar to brand-agency partnerships.
Think about it; when a brand discovers an influencer that shares the same audience and values as you, likes your product, and is a joy to work with, then why wouldn’t you want a long-term collaboration?
“There are so many benefits when you work with an influencer on an ongoing basis; first, you are building more trust with both the influencer and their audience, and we know trust leads to brand loyalty. Second, we see improved performance and more efficient execution. This is because the influencer knows what is resonating with their audience over time, and they understand what the brand is looking for, so their content is quicker and easier to review. Finally, you’re building a long-term relationship with this influencer, which should translate into a brand fan for life.”
– Hope Herline, Strategist, Influencer Marketing at Tinuiti
9. Co-creation is the way to go
A side effect of long-term collaboration is better alignment and understanding in the partnership. This encourages an easier flow of ideas, which leads to better content and results.
But you can get co-created campaigns even with short-term collaboration. All you need is a strong starting concept for your campaign and proper communication and trust between you and your influencer.
10. Surge in social commerce
Social commerce was already making waves a few years ago, with major platforms rolling out the ability to purchase products directly from a social media post. But the pandemic has triggered a flood of interest in online shopping, and social commerce is riding the wave of demand.
Expect to see plenty more interest in social commerce as well as live shopping capabilities as more brands and influencers hop on the bandwagon, and the practice starts spreading into other industries.
11. Influencers from internal sources
Brands that want to partner with influencers should first look within their own ranks. There have been many examples in recent years of company employees who have enough of a following in their own right to be considered influencers.
One notable example is Tony Piloseno (@tonesterpaints), who went viral by uploading videos of himself mixing paint in vibrant colors. Unfortunately, Sherwin-Williams fired him (and were criticized for it), but Tony was soon bombarded with offers from different companies, and finally joined Florida Paints.
12. Authenticity will be key (again)
As audiences get more exposed to influencer marketing campaigns, they become more critical and intolerant of poorly-executed brand partnerships. Authenticity is an incredibly important element of sponsored content, and should be a main point of discussion any time a campaign is being planned.
Brands need to ensure that their product and message is appropriate to the influencer they partner with, and even the video content itself. Best practice is to give the creator a free hand in how they want to present your message so that they can determine the most genuine and effective way to communicate with their audience.
13. More diversity and representation
We are living in a time where brands (and everyone, really) have to be more socially conscious, aware, and responsible. Brands have to lean in on diversity and representation and become allies in everything they do online – especially when it comes to influencers. In recent years, we’ve seen an increasing number of brands working with influencers who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, and communities. Putting a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion shouldn’t just be a trend, it needs to be a foundational piece of your brand and marketing campaigns from the start.
Consumers care about diversity, especially when we look at younger demographics. In fact, “76% of Gen Zers feel diversity and inclusion are important topics for brands to address, compared with 72% of millennials, 63% of Gen Xers, and 46% of boomers” (Source).
When a brand partners with an influencer, they also partner with that influencer’s attitudes and views towards diversity and representation, so choose your influencers wisely.
14. Blurred lines between influencer marketing and affiliate marketing
In the past, affiliate marketers consisted mostly of bloggers and website owners. But we’re seeing more and more influencers deploying things like referral codes and tracking links to send audiences to sponsors. They also give product demos and personal testimonials that fall solidly on the side of affiliate marketing.
15. It’s all about the data
Influencer marketing has advanced enough that many social media tools and influencer marketing platforms now exist to help gather, manage, and report on campaign performance data.
This is crucial for both in-house marketers and brand agencies to plan effective campaigns. Performance numbers help evaluate potential influencer partners, and engagement metrics show the effectiveness of individual pieces of content. All of these data points are required to ensure that the brand gets a decent return on investment.
“The industry is changing – we are seeing that more marketers and brands expect to understand how their investment in influencers impacts their bottom line. No longer can we rely on vanity metrics to tell the story of success in influencer marketing; we need to hold ourselves accountable and have the infrastructure in place to track through to more impactful metrics like conversions.”
– Crystal Duncan, SVP of Influencer Marketing at Tinuiti
It’s an exciting time to be in marketing, whether it’s as a brand or an influencer. What was once called a fad is clearly here to stay. We’re seeing the growth of technology, strategy, tactics, techniques, and attitudes that will mature influencer marketing to the point where it’s as core to a brand’s business strategy as traditional print and broadcast marketing used to be.
Here’s to 2022!