Influencer Marketing in 2021: A Look Ahead

Account executive Katie Coulter shares three trends to keep in mind about the future of influencer marketing.

This article was originally published in CommPRO.

Across the board, organizations are taking note of the measurable impact of influencer relations. As the industry nears a $10 billion market size, you might be wondering — where’s this money coming from?

Many brands are making sizable investments in influencer marketing. In fact, nearly two-thirds of marketers increased their influencer budget in 2020. And, with the ongoing pandemic, many in-person engagements are canceled, leaving extra dollars on the table to be allocated toward safer communications campaigns that limit in-person interaction.

As you plan your marketing strategy for the upcoming year, here’s what you should keep in mind about the future of influencer marketing.

Video content is still on the rise.

Mobile video consumption rises by 100 percent annually. Traditional video platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook, along with emerging tools like TikTok and Instagram Reels, suggest that video is here to stay. And as we’ve learned, where there are viewers, there are influential people entertaining them.

Many big brands began working with TikTok influencers in creative and unexpected ways early on. Take this #TooSickToBeSick campaign from Mucinex, which engaged four influencers to showcase a transformation pre- and post-medicine. Video content gives more time for influencers to explain product details, showcase it in action and share key message points, making it a great alternative to static photos.

Virtual opportunities trump IRL activations.

Influencers are people, too. Groundbreaking, right? With the pandemic continuing to impact our daily lives, we need to remember that safety always comes first — and that includes the safety of our beloved brand ambassadors. While in-person influencer activations are usually ideal, it’s not worth putting your organization or its influencers at risk.

Instead of hosting an in-person event, try bringing people together through Instagram or Facebook Live, or coordinate video calls for more intimate gatherings. Ship any important items to the influencer ahead of time. Plan the virtual experience to be seamless and impactful. Long story short: Until the world opens, virtual alternatives are a must.

Influencers power the content engine.

If done correctly, influencer content should be authentic, on-brand and appealing to your target audience. That’s why it’s the perfect content to repurpose on your brand’s owned channels, like its social media, blog or newsletter — just make sure content usage is baked into the contract.

Plus, influencer content gives you a chance to see what your target audience is saying about your brand and products. What’s the conversation in the comments? Are users tagging their friends? Are they excited about the partnership? This is an opportunity to read, learn, engage and begin to build a community that rallies around your company.

While the elements of influencer marketing might ebb and flow, it’s a marketing tactic that’s here to stay. Looking to kick off an influencer campaign? Let’s chat.