Influencer marketing, as a key approach to social media marketing, refers to a collaboration format between brands and social media creators who possess a certain influence in some niche by their expertise and authority. For brands’ part, it is an excellent and cost-effective way to reach new target audiences and drive brand awareness.
In the past few years, we have seen exponential growth in influencer marketing. A $16.4-billion influencer marketing market is expected by the end of 2022. For US brands, although the growth of their spending on influencer marketing will decrease from 2021’s 33.6% to 12.2% in 2022, as forecast, the spending number is still going upward with $4.14 billion in 2022.
Influencer marketing is bound to continue to grow and boom, while the ever-changing industry always sees new trends internally, such as live commerce for creators, virtual influencers rising up, and new regulations enforced over influencer marketing activities.
Indeed, it is an effective strategy for brands to acquire business growth and for creators to monetize their presence on social. Both advertisers and creators need to keep an eye on and leverage the latest trends to acquire what they want.
The article below explores some of the top influencer marketing trends that we should embrace in 2022.
Trend 1. Live commerce as a new format of influencer marketing collaboration
As more social platforms are paving their path of social commerce, both brands and influencers should increase their stack in this new marketing format.
As an intersection between social commerce and influencer marketing, live commerce by influencers will be a powerful revenue generator for both ecommerce sellers and influencers.
Social media corporations such as Meta and Bytedance, all have developed in-stream shopping features to empower their social commerce business, Facebook’s live shopping, TikTok Shop, and Instagram’s affiliate product tagging option, for instance.
All these social commerce programs, serving as a new revenue stream for all, are encouraging creators and brands to join. Also, these in-app infrastructures for commerce allow brands to try out this new format of collaboration, live commerce, with influencers
In China, live commerce has been proven to be a successful commerce model by TikTok’s Chinese version, Douyin, which generated $119 billion worth of product sales via live broadcasts in 2021. For comparison, the entire US retail eCommerce market reached $767 billion last year, which means there is a huge space for western countries to develop social commerce.
Trend 2. More space for influencer marketing on TikTok
Before TikTok officially announces an effective revenue generation initiative for creators, more space will be left for spontaneous influencer marketing activities by creators to make money, as a way to refrain talents exodus.
There are multiple factors signaling TikTok will have to roll out new creator fund policies and revenue sharing programs, such as its UK eCommerce programme, to retain creators, especially top talents.
As TikTok’s user growth trend is bound to plateau after its booming stage from 2021 to 2022, how to retain high-profile influencers by giving them more revenue paths is the most head-scratching thing for TikTok.
As it is getting more competitive and harder to grow for creators on TikTok, it was reported that TikTok accounts reached 1 million followers declined by 41% in 2022. And there have been dozens of high-profile TikTokers stranding out to raise questions about the flawed creator fund’s payment model. Plus, TikTok was forced to scale back its live eCommerce initiative due to complaints of poor payouts from influencers and a lack of consumer interest.
But before TikTok thinks of effective revenue pathways for creators, there are enough opportunities for brands to collaborate with TikTokers freely in 2022.
Trend 3. More brand-backed Influencers
In the whole year upcoming, more influencers incubated and 100% sponsored by brands are expected to come into our sights. Serving as an MCN is adopted by more brands as a new puzzle in social media marketing strategy.
For startups or go-to-market brands who are looking to garner seed users, influencer marketing is an effective approach to produce immediate results. Whereas, only long-term brand awareness can generate lasting customer stream and leads. In this sense, building a constant brand presence through influencers costs too much, while building brand’s own official social profile is hard to gain high engagement.
In this way, a lot of brands start to create their brand profile in a personal IP, through incubate brand-backed influencers. Take Insta360 as an example, the action camera brand has its own several personal-IP official accounts, called Insta360 Caicai and QiQi, on Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese-exclusive version, to publish fun product content.
If their short videos have ever appeared in your feeds, you can’t even tell if it is created by a brand account. Rather, it always has a lovely girl’s face and an eye-catching title on the cover, attracting viewers to stop by and click.
Trend 4. Performance-based collaboration
More and more brands and influencers will opt for performance-based collaboration. In this model, the influencers will receive a certain percentage of the sales generated from their promotional posts.
As social commerce rises up in the coming year, shopping on social will be the main trend globally. All roles in the arena, social media platforms, creators, brands, and marketers should go in this direction.
For brands, social commerce success lies in how many goods are sold. So commerce-type influencer marketing’s performance will be counted by sales generated from promotional posts. Influencers will receive a certain percentage as commission.
We know such collaboration format will make some creators uncomfortable. But that’s the trend.
Trend 5. Virtual influencers
Another interesting trend that we will see in 2022 is virtual influencers. Virtual influencers are digital characters, who have millions of followers, who engage, connect and inspire their audience.
Virtual influencers are already playing a key role in various marketing campaigns. For example, Sony partnered with the virtual reality game “The Walker’s Journey” to promote its futuristic, wireless headphones. This trend is expected to grow and become more prominent in the future. With virtual influencers, brands will be able to create engaging content to promote their products.
Trend 6. More Transparency in Influencer Marketing
It is no secret that the influencer marketing industry is full of fraudulent practices. Many influencers will sell their “influence” to the highest bidder and don’t care about the quality of the product they promote.
With that said, we are expecting this issue to become less severe in 2022 as the industry becomes more transparent. This will happen as brands and influencers become more aware of fraud detection tools and rates are made public. There are also ways in which influencers can be more transparent, such as by disclosing whether they’ve been paid to promote something or not.
Currently, there are many self-regulation efforts aimed at increasing transparency in the influencer marketing industry. For example, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides, published in 2016, state that when an advertisement features a paid spokesperson, the ad is required to “disclose the nature of the connection” between the brand and the spokesperson.
Trend 7. Virtual Reality for Influencer Marketing
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be viewed through a special headset or other technology. It is a Massive trend in the marketing industry, and we expect it to become an even more prominent in the marketing industry by 2022.
Brands can use VR to create immersive experiences for their customers. For example, a brand like Marriott recently partnered with leading virtual reality (VR) content company Matter Unlimited to allow Marriott Rewards members to experience a stay at one of its hotels in VR through a custom-built app. Another top VR influencer marketing trend is the use of 360-degree videos. They are a great way for brands to show off their products and services as they allow potential customers to not only see but also experience them in a more immersive and engaging way.
Trend 8. Brands Will Require Influencer Marketing Tools
More brands will start to use tools like automated influencer discovery tools, such as NoxInfluencer, and influencer outreach tools to identify and manage the influencers in their networks.
In fact, we expect to see the number of brands using such tools increase by more than 25 percent in the next three years. These tools will allow brands to track their influencer networks more easily and effectively.
They will also allow brands to scale up their influencer marketing campaigns more effectively. Additionally, these tools will help brands find and manage their influencers more effectively. This will allow brands to maximize their ROI from influencer marketing campaigns.
Trend 9. Advertising Standards Will Be Set
As online marketing becomes more regulated, we expect to see the creation of more stringent standards for the influencer marketing industry. Currently, influencer marketing is loosely regulated. This leads to a lot of brands and influencers using misleading marketing techniques.
However, as social media platforms continue to crack down on misleading advertisements and false influencers, we expect regulators to step in and create more stringent standards for the influencer marketing industry. We expect these standards to be set in 2022.
Trend 10. Limitations of Dark Social Media Audience Measurement
One of the most common techniques used in influencer marketing is the tracking of “dark social media.” This occurs when an individual shares a branded post, such as a video, with one or more friends or colleagues.
While this method is often effective, it can sometimes be unreliable and open up the possibility of “falsified metrics.” We expect the limitations of dark social media to become more apparent as the years go by and for brands to keep this in mind when creating and distributing their sponsored content. However, this doesn’t mean that brands will stop using this method. Instead, we expect brands to adopt more accurate methods of measuring the reach of their sponsored posts.
As you can see, there are many ways in which influencer marketing can evolve in the next few years. From augmented reality to virtual reality, the future of this industry looks bright. With that said, we encourage you to keep an eye on these emerging trends and make sure to use them to your advantage.