7 Influencer Marketing Trends That Are Set to Dominate 2022

Rachel Smith
Communications Executive
December 6, 2021
min read
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It's official: This is how influencer trends will change the marketing game for brands in 2022!

2021… what a dynamic year it has been for digital marketing! We saw Facebook transforming itself into a metaverse! And, we also witnessed Jeff Bezos announcing his withdrawal as Amazon's CEO. A true roller coaster ride it has been.

But throughout it all, the one thing that thrived is INFLUENCER MARKETING!

From $1.7 billion in 2016, the influencer market size is estimated to grow to $13.8 billion by the end of 2021. And it is predicted that influencer marketing is on an unstoppable track to become a $15 billion industry by 2022! There's no doubt that it has become a standard practice and included in most businesses' marketing mix owing to its efficacy in reaching the right target audience.

As influencer trends gain momentum, it is estimated that 72.5% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2022. Brands and marketing agencies are increasingly collaborating with influencers to deliver impactful messaging to their audience, which will further fuel influencer marketing growth.

While the influencer marketing landscape continues to evolve, 2022 is expected to open a bag full of exciting influencer marketing trends like long-term collaborations, the rise of performance-based partnerships, and much more to make brands and marketing agencies shift gears as they enter the new year.

Influencer Marketing Trends 2022

As we prepare to enter 2022, a lot of excitement in the influencer marketing space awaits us. The trends that will prevail in the industry in 2022 are sure to bring us some big marketing moments ahead.

Top 7 Influencer Marketing Trends 2022 are:

Video-First Content Strategy

Do you remember how influencers began to influence initially? They started with text-heavy blog posts! But the scenario today has changed with the popularity of social media and the content options available - out of which video content has been reigning supreme.

Video content has become the undisputed king of social media, which will continue to grow in 2022. With videos of dance challenges, social media stunts, and cooking hacks becoming viral overnight, online video content consumption has indeed spiked, especially among Millennials and Gen Z.

73% of influencer respondents said that they shared more videos on Instagram in 2021 than in 2020. Not convinced yet? Cisco recently declared that by 2022, video content will dominate all online content by 82%. More than 4 billion video views take place on Facebook alone every day.

We have also seen a surge in short-form video content. The audience is loving TikTok trends, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. TikTok seems to be leading this game with video trends like #dalgonacandy following the Netflix series, Squid Games, where everyone rushed to make the honeycomb candy and break the shape off, as shown in the show.

Video content works so well because it is super easy to consume – no effort required – literally none!

With videos, the brand message can be delivered with a significant impact in a short amount of time. Brands can take advantage of this and collaborate with influencers to produce and post different types of video content like YouTube videos, live streams, social media takeovers using stories and reels. Though many Instagram reel trends stem from TikTok, brands need to be careful about tailoring the content that could work on individual platforms. For instance, what works on YouTube (ex. product manual) may not work on Instagram (inclined towards entertainment). Social listening tools, especially an influencer marketing platform like Affable.ai, will be invaluable to this end to help brands dig deeper into their target audience and social media trends that resonate.

Another thing to note is that - social media now has strict rules for paid promotions. Promoted ads are also facing the wrath of ad-blocking software where users can take the liberty of disabling any paid content on their feed. Influencer marketing platforms can greatly help brands by finding influencers to collaborate and create organic content that can surpass these challenges and appear genuine to their users.

The #WonderWaterWhip with L'Oréal Paris was a great amalgamation of influencer video content to launch L'Oréal Paris Elvive – Wonder Water in the UK. According to the brand promise, the product can give an 8-second hair transformation, so 12 beauty influencers took to social media to test it by engaging their audiences across TikTok and Instagram and encouraging them to tag along. They did so with a bespoke soundtrack and a dance routine generating waves of engagement on social media.

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The Rise of Specialized Creator Economy and Co-creation Strategy

2022 is going to take a whole new approach to content creation. Let's talk about the insanely growing creator economy, for instance. A new class of business has come into existence which is built by over 50 million independent content creators, curators, and community builders. This encompasses influencers on social media and OTT platforms, bloggers, videographers, plus the software and tools designed to help them grow and monetize their content.

The focus is going to be on creators. Brands will need to approach creators as their long-term creative partners. It's going to be about brands, marketing agencies, and influencers brainstorming and co-creating content from the very beginning. Even the product and design will be co-created with inputs from both brands and influencers. This will develop trust and build mutually beneficial partnerships as influencers can add unrivaled value by getting inspiration, tips, and information from the audience. This ensures that the legitimacy of influencers doesn't get lost as brands deliver content that is appreciated by their audience.

In 2022, brands will try to build a long-term always-on influencer marketing strategy by establishing a consistent presence on social media. This will be advantageous as the brand exercise of building trust with their target audience and making a sale takes a considerable amount of time which means there is a need for continuous promotion. Hence, the influencers become assets and strive for the business's success.

As the creator economy and demand rises, one of the key influencer marketing trends will involve brands hiring in-house creators who will create content, produce videos, manage their social media, and create brand assets – just like their employees. Starbucks has been doing this by labeling its employees as 'partners' and encouraging them to creatively share their experiences with the world. The biggest advantage? Such employee-generated content is also aligned with the brand narrative. Other brands like Macy's even offer their in-house creators some cool incentives to manage their social media, enhance it, and build a long-lasting community for them.

The creators will hold more power over the audience than the brands themselves. Therefore, brands will benefit by letting their influencers act as opinion leaders on their behalf. TikTok understands that, which is why it launched its first creator-led NFT collection called "Own The Moment" which lets fans own viral moments from top creators. Global Head of Marketing at TikTok, Nick Tran, explained: "As the creator economy continues to grow, we're continually looking for new and differentiated ways to support our creators."

In June 2021, Instagram also started testing a new solution – a native affiliate tool that allows creators to discover products on the Instagram checkout, share them with their followers, and, as a result, earn commissions generated from the purchases they drive.

Leveraging Nano- and Micro-influencers

Micro-influencers generally have 10K-50K followers, while nano-influencers' followers range from 1K to 10K. This is way less than celebrity influencers who have more than one million followers on social media. Then, why is 2022 trending towards micro and nano-influencers, you ask?

Mega influencers are celebrities – think Kim Kardashian, Deepika Padukone, Justin Bieber, etc. Brands have to shell out a lot of money to work with such big influencers. Although mega influencers are great for brands whose goal is to create a buzz or just reach a huge number of people online, only the ones with deep pockets or funding can afford to collaborate with them.

The advantages of leveraging nano and micro-influencers include low influencer marketing costs, higher engagement rates, and higher perceived authenticity. According to a marketing report, micro-influencers had the highest post engagement rates among all influencer types on YouTube, Instagram, and particularly TikTok.

Moreover, people like doing business with brands they can relate to or feel a connection with, which is precisely what micro-influencers can achieve. Micro-influencers are more closely knit with their community as they constantly respond to their audience's queries, reply to their comments and engage with them in other ways. Therefore, when such influencers give out product recommendations, it seems more dependable than someone who's a celebrity figure.

The Swedish brand, Daniel Wellington, is the perfect example of leveraging micro-influencers to build on its branding strategy. It asked micro-influencers to post about its products in return for a DW watch. The strategy paid off, and DW watches became widely popular. The brand now promotes its social media competitions under the hashtag #DWPickoftheDay.

To get it right, brands must research and connect with the micro and nano-influencers that are right for them based on their target audience's age, location, interests, etc. To simplify the process, it is good to use influencer marketing software to identify the influencers that are best suited for your brand.

Social Commerce and Live Shopping

Livestream shopping is the latest buzz in the town, where influencers play a direct role in helping brands generate online sales. It is a combination of interactive video content and e-commerce. Livestream shopping usually features influencers or hosts creating content around a brand's products and selling them in real-time on social media or a website. Consumers can interact with their preferred influencer on-screen and purchase the product right on the platform.

The next phase of retail lies in live shopping, where influencers will be key in facilitating a seamless shopping journey for the users as they add a human touch to e-commerce or D2C brand websites. Live commerce can help brands accelerate conversions, improve brand appeal and differentiation, and provide a rapidly growing channel for customer interaction.

Brands and influencers can create immersive content on how to use a product, how to incorporate the product in your daily routine, or simply the top 5 products from the brand that the influencer loves to use. This will encourage users to listen and learn from their favorite influencers and shop at the same time.

Want to get the deets on something interesting? TikTok is expanding its shopping experience in partnership with Shopify. With a new live shopping feature, brands on TikTok can share real-time links to their services and products with their community while their content is streaming online. Companies like Walmart have already hosted a couple of successful live shopping events as a pilot partner of TikTok's project. Moreover, if you ever came across the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag, which users post when sharing the products that they had discovered through TikTok videos, it is worth knowing that the views grew to 4.6 billion and is still rising.

Other big players like Amazon have already been experimenting with live shopping through Amazon Live, the retail giant's QVC-style video shopping platform. This shows us the future of e-commerce and social live commerce is going to be a big part of it.

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Creating Big Social Moments for Brands

Social media hashtags have become the new way of creating breaking news. They have the power to create enormous engagement and encourage the audience to express themselves while showing love to their favorite brands. D2C brands and agencies are harnessing the power of such artistic content to create some big moments through influencers. It is said that 2022 is going to see a massive rise in influencer and brand-created campaigns where they inspire others to join and make it even bigger.

Until today, most brands chose the path of "dodging" hot political or social justice topics or simply staying silent. But now, silence is seen as equivalent to involvement. As a result, more and more brands will be seen building campaigns around funny memes, diversity, and inclusivity. Standing up against something wrong has become essential to express to the customers that the brand also has a voice of opinion.

For example, Pepsi strategically collaborated with macro-influencers and content creators to engage with millennials through #PepsiMoneyHeistParty. In this collaboration, Pepsi partnered with Netflix for the first time in India to celebrate the finale of the globally loved series, Money Heist. The party was hosted by Manish Paul and involved celebrities like Nora Fatehi, Vishal-Shekhar, Disha Patani, and more. Keeping the target audience in mind, Pepsi chose all influencers between the age group of 15-30 years to drive brand awareness and drive consumer engagement through conversations. The virtual party clocked 2.4 million views on MX Player, 3.3 million views on YouTube, and 3.4 million views on Twitter in 24 hours.

Similarly, Johnson & Johnson did an influencer marketing campaign to build brand advocates and speak up for a positive social change. Its sub-brands, Neutrogena and Listerine, created limited-edition pride-themed products to support the LGBTQIA+ community as part of J&J's Care With Pride program. For the campaign, the brand teamed up with 42 outspoken influencers in the US who spread the word about #CareWithPride and encouraged everyone to join the movement. This helped J&J raise immense brand awareness, engage their community, and increase their product page views and sales.

2022 will make brands more careful of choosing charismatic, opinionated, real, candid, and diverse influencers. Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram have already brought a spotlight to anti-body shaming and anti-black movements. This pressure will also translate to influencers being careful about the type of brand that they select to work with.

Cross-channel Influencer Marketing

Instagram and TikTok are not the only social media platforms running in the influencer marketing race. Platforms like Pinterest and Twitch are following closely behind. Pinterest offers an inspirational feed, new shopping features, a live stream platform, and ongoing development towards more categories. Twitch has also been showing crazy high engagement rates, and it is believed to be the epitome of content authenticity. Not to mention the trend of live shopping events.

With the ever-growing range of social platforms and formats, cross-channel influencer marketing campaigns will become non-negotiable for brands. Brands will have to find ways to repurpose content from one platform to another. It's time to think – can the emailer content be converted to a website landing page for the same campaign? How to leverage a social media influencer campaign on a website, app, or even retail stores?

Content can be categorized and repurposed on two or more platforms. For example, Instagram and TikTok both have short-form content opportunities. A mixture of various marketing channels will create a more unified and optimized customer journey for your target audience.

A set of influencers can be used to promote the same campaign online as well as offline with opportunities like hosting shopping events where they can share their expertise and recommendations about products by being the brand model or the campaign face.

Brands must carefully design this strategy to avoid challenges like regulatory changes from one platform to another and data refinement. Therefore, the content and functionality for each channel will have to be tweaked a little to customize it for every platform.

To celebrate the milestone of being the premium brand to get the most "likes" on Instagram, Mercedes Benz built a special website and an exhibition at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart to thank all the fans and followers. They used their highlights from social media and selected photos to populate the website and the exhibition. To make their multi-channel strategy work successfully, Mercedes-Benz lets influencers take part in its press events, shows, and world premieres. They produce their content both for the Mercedes-Benz platforms and for brand channels systematically with photographers, filmmakers, and brand ambassadors.

AI and Data-Driven Influencer Marketing Platforms

As conversations evolve from whether or not to try influencer marketing to how what, when – how many influencers to use, what kind of influencers, when and where should we run the campaign, influencer marketing trends 2022 denote that data and analytics will be big. Data-driven influencer marketing measures the impact of influencer activities and the performance of various campaigns. This information can be used later to calculate the ROI and further optimize the campaigns. Data-driven influencer marketing ensures that marketers see transparency in their ROI. The data collection technology enables companies to identify new opportunities, pinpoint key influencers to collaborate with, and keep a close eye on consumer preferences.

The most important metrics to consider while trying out any influencer trend are:

  • Cost per impression
  • Cost per engagement
  • Cost per click
  • Engagement rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per acquisition

So, what is next for influencer marketing growth? The answer is artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) are the tools that are transforming the way brands conduct influencer marketing by merging quantitative and qualitative metrics in a meaningful way. Such AI-driven influencer marketing platforms will improve quality audience check and success measurements.

From building look-alike audiences and brand affinities to identifying overlapping audiences, a data-driven approach supported by influencer marketing software will be vital. We will see more and more influencer marketing platforms that are focused on niche areas like identifying fake vs. real followers, scalable management of creator relationships, messaging, disbursement, attribution tracking, etc.

Nestle is a classic example of a brand that has used an AI-driven influencer platform to its advantage. For its sub-brand Nestle Pure Life, the company partnered with AI-powered influencer platforms to identify the right influencers who wanted to share their heartwarming experiences on being inspired by their mother figures. The chosen influencers on Google+, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr created 7500+ social stories on how their mothers and grandmothers helped them build their confidence. This activity garnered 22 million impressions. The campaign also encouraged over 50,000 audience members to come forward and share similar stories.

With so many types of influencer relationships and campaigns, managing it the right way is going to be pertinent to brands' success. Therefore, brands need multi-faceted influencer marketing software that helps them with everything from collaborating with influencers to measuring the impact of your campaigns.

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2022 will also see brands get a lot savvier with how they work with influencers. From tracking sentiment to considering influencers of all sizes, brands will need to outline their goals and prioritize authenticity. Growing D2C brands will further fuel the growth of influencer marketing as they already own their distribution channels. With their increasing budgets, D2C brands will also want to control their data and creator relationships with the help of influencer marketing platforms.

The value of influencer marketing has proved undeniable in the last few years, and 2022 will only raise the excitement at the new influencer marketing trends unfolding for D2C brands, e-commerce companies, digital marketing agencies, and advertising agencies. Combining innovative strategies with data-driven marketing is going to be the new norm responsible for escalating influencer marketing growth in 2022.

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