What Does 2022 Hold for Influencer Marketing?

By Sara Joy Madsen, Managing Director at TAKUMI

It’s hard to believe that we were first introduced to COVID two years ago. But while life has returned to something closer to normality, there are still elements of 2021 – most recently the emergence of the Omicron variant – that people are desperate to leave behind. This is perhaps why excitement is building for the prospect of a brighter 2022.

The question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is what will this new year hold? But with so much uncertainty, it’s almost impossible to predict. However, one trend which looks set to repeat itself is the rise in influencer marketing.

Even before the pandemic, the industry was already on an upward trajectory, forecast to rise from $8 billion in 2019 to $15 billion in 2022. Yet, this rate of growth looks set to increase as TAKUMI’s recent Whitepaper report, ‘Influencer marketing in the pandemic era’ found that seven out of ten marketers (70%) agree that influencer marketing represents a greater proportion of their overall marketing budget. In a maturing and fast-evolving sector, what is in store for the future?  

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E-commerce in 2022

Due to lockdown restrictions during the pandemic, the rise in e-commerce has accelerated with consumers becoming more accustomed to online shopping. In response, social media platforms have enhanced their in-app shopping functions. For example, Instagram has rolled out Shopping Tags in feed posts and in stories. And in August 2021, TikTok launched its Shopping feature, which lets users sync TikTok For Business and Shopify accounts and add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles which displays their products and creates a direct link to their online store.

Such opportunities will continue to develop on social media platforms to streamline purchasing processes. Encouragingly, the influencer marketing industry is adapting to rising demand among consumers and marketers for more and improved in-app shopping. Our whitepaper has shown that 59% of marketers are using more e-commerce tools in their influencer marketing activity compared to 2020, improving the links between activity and revenue. Similarly, a third of creators (31%) are increasing e-commerce integration in brand campaigns compared to a year ago.

Platform updates

As well as trialling new e-commerce functions, a large number of creators are part of beta programs for new features or ads designed to improve both the platforms’ and their own performance. In particular on Instagram (66%), TikTok (32%) and Facebook (20%). These platforms will increase marketing opportunities for brands and enhance the user experience.

For example, Instagram recently launched a new update to its short form video format, Reels, saying: “we’re excited to launch Reels Visual Replies, a new feature to interact with your audience. You can now reply to comments with Reels and the comment will pop up as a sticker”. The update will improve opportunities for users to communicate in an authentic way with their favourite creators with Reels creating a more intimate format for creators to discuss product purchases and activities.

Similarly, Pinterest has introduced “takes” which is a new way for users to respond to a creator’s idea with their own ‘pin’. Takes were introduced with the aim of empowering creators to publish and drive meaningful engagement while getting paid for inspiring content. Additionally, takes provides users with new ways to shop via creator content.

A number of other features such as TikTok lives, which allow users to watch their favourite creators live with the click of a button, are continuing to pave the way for additional participation on social media.

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Creators as communicators

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve learnt that brands must produce content which is compassionate, socially aware and responsible. Any content deemed overly promotional or out-of-touch could lead to a backlash – for example, Kim Kardashian’s holiday pictures.

Social media creators can act as creative directors to help brands navigate this tricky online landscape. The most successful have been able to entertain users on TikTok when spirits were low; start sensitive mental health discussions on Instagram through lockdown; and educate through longer form YouTube content. However creators interact with consumers and brands, it must be done in an authentic way. Historic TAKUMI whitepaper research has shown how important authenticity, and our latest research shows that creators can support marketers on this with almost a third of UK and US consumers (31%) agreeing that creator content is more relatable and relevant than a brand’s own advertising.

New ways of engaging with creators

Since Facebook’s rebrand on October 28th 2021, the Metaverse and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) have dominated the news and there is no sign of this slowing down.

The influencer industry is constantly changing and it’s likely that it will change even further, with NFT creators becoming mainstream. Last year for example, an AdWeek survey in the US found that 27% of millennials are already investing in NFTs.

The nature of NFTs means that a creator could take popular TikToks, Instagram posts or YouTube clips and let fans own and collect them. This creates new marketing opportunities for brands and creators and increases the likelihood of producing new, viral content which is long-lasting. NFTs mean that unique content can be created that can be monetised whilst allowing followers to own a collectable piece – creating additional engagement touchpoints for consumers with their favourite brands and creators.

Much like NFTs, the Metaverse has been met with a lukewarm reception of intrigue mixed with uncertainty. However, its introduction could change the face of influencer marketing and society as we know it, popularising virtual reality. 

As we’ve seen over the last few months, change can happen quickly. However, no matter in what direction it may evolve, one thing that’s here to stay is the role of creators in the marketing industry.

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