Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021 [we ask 8 experts]
Updated: Sep 28, 2022
2020 has been a wild ride. No industry has gone untouched by the vast challenges presented by the global pandemic. The next 12 months will offer businesses a unique chance to leverage these challenges to their benefit, strengthen their offering and serve their customers better.
In this article, we asked 8 industry-leading influencer marketing experts what they think 2021 will bring...
Amisha Gandhi, VP - Influencer Marketing & Communications @ SAP
"Increasingly, we will see much more sophisticated always-on programming vs. one-off campaigns [. . .]
"During this time, we need to find ways to engage with our audience and rise above the noise.
As in-person events will continue to be limited, influencer marketing will play a more strategic role across the customer sales cycle, not just for awareness. Brands will co-create content with their communities of influence: external influencers, employees, customers, and partners - to drive engagement with prospects and deliver high-value knowledge to existing customers.
Increasingly, we will see much more sophisticated always-on programming vs. one-off campaigns and influencers embedded in deeper funnel activities (ABM, demand-gen). Influencer marketing will become a pillar in marketing strategy over the long-term."
Scott Guthrie, Influencer Marketing Consultant @ sabguthrie.info
"Consumers want to see the brands they buy from stand for something beyond making a profit."
"eCommerce’s growth curve accelerated by 5 years in 5 months during 2020. Expect the same trajectory in 2021 with increased focus on social commerce. Whether it’s Instagram’s Shopping and Checkout functionality or it’s TikTok’s tie-up with Shopify there will be a rush for the West to catch up with Asian platforms such as WeChat. Livestream shopping enabled by Instagram, Twitch and retail sites such as Amazon will also gain traction.
Consumers want to see the brands they buy from stand for something beyond making a profit. Brands will increasingly turn to influencers to humanise their brand and articulate their world-view via content. Authenticity remains key. Brands must believe in the causes they are highlighting. Consumers will call out companies they perceive to be purpose-washing."
Alicia Russell, VP Global Marketing @ Onalytica
"Our marketing strategies will never go back to what they were."
"One thing that we have seen come out of 2020 (thanks to COVID) is an increasing need and challenge to engage our buyers and customers online. With in-person events being cancelled and us all remote working, marketers have been forced to take a truly digital-first approach. This isn't going to change going into 2021.
I hate to say the words "new normal", but I think that is what we are beginning to see. Our marketing strategies will never go back to what they were. We need to embrace digital-first if we want to engage and influence our target audiences.
Influencers are the key to this. They already have a built up, engaged and relevant audience who trust them. 2021 is the year that marketers must start taking influencer marketing seriously if they haven't already, or they will struggle to get seen."
Tom Augenthaler, Influencer Marketing Consultant @ The Influence Marketer
"[. . .] look for influencers who are creating content that helps their followers and you'll likely find good business partners who can help your company."
"2020 ended business as we knew it.
Because of Covid-19, entire industries have been upended and companies of all kinds are being forced to refocus on how they attract customers and make money. Online business is now the norm, not just a nice to have. Therefore digital strategies, including influencer marketing are poised to do well. Smart business leaders open to working with influencers will find it easier to boost their brands and attract leads since people are looking for value and guidance - and influencers can supply both.
My advice is to look for influencers who are creating content that helps their followers and you'll likely find good business partners who can help your company."
David Wing, Founder & Managing Director @ Wing Digital Marketing
"I [. . .] anticipate the B2B industry evolving [. . .]; humour, accessibility and an open approach are key attitudes to cheering up the masses [. . .], B2B folks need to laugh too."
"This year has seen a shift in mentality that was always seen as something of an 'end of days' scenario for many industries, but it was also a situation that few actively planned for in advance, despite ample warning.
Now we see variety, opportunity and open access for many professionals to change their outlook and professions. B2B influencer marketing relied far too heavily on physical events; mainly due to client fears as to the actionable efforts and benefit of virtual events and activities.
Covid can never be seen as a good thing, but the push for many to try to change with these harrowing times is and was needed. Businesses, despite experts screaming from the rafters as to the need to change, failed to move earlier, but now understand life and success comes only with action.
Covid vaccines are very close, and as such, a semi-return to pre-covid life can be anticipated and welcomed. As for those businesses that have seen the reward for shifting and moving with the digital times, I predict a budget centred much more heavily on the digital and less on the physical. I also anticipate the B2B industry evolving into a less grey and more technicolour approach; humour, accessibility and an open approach are key attitudes to cheering up the masses and let's not forget, B2B folks need to laugh too."
Mark Dandy, Influencer Marketing Specialist @ Captivate Influence
"Followers will not matter so much moving forward, it will all be about quality content."
"So for me, the market is going to shift more towards affiliate marketing than ever before with the rise of social commerce and Instagram's embedded shopping capability.
Brands need to give opportunities to influencers to be posting about them through UGC as much as possible, as customers will soon be able to directly buy through Influencer's profiles - for which Influencers will be rewarded.
Followers will not matter so much moving forward, it will all be about quality content. Brands want quick access to great content, and Instagram allowing brand partner access to promote via influencers profiles will be a quick way for brands to get the content they need and target an audience they want. This will effectively remove the fake follower phenomena within Influencer Marketing, as the following won't matter at all, it will simply be a bonus point."
Thomas Walters, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer @ Billion Dollar Boy
"There will be a focus on engaging influencers with strong brand affinity"
"The demand for influencer activity will grow faster than the talent base, therefore this will drive brands to embrace large scale, long-term, ambassadorships with big talent once more.
There will be a focus on engaging influencers with strong brand affinity, having mentioned the brand in previous organic content, which will lead to long-term partnerships rather than one-off campaigns. This will create content that feels natural and represents an influencer’s genuine love for the brand."
Owain Williams, Founder @ MAKE IT MANA
"[. . .] we will see influencers leading the way into the 'new way' of doing things"
2020 has been a wild and uncertain year for every business - there is certainly no denying that. Not only have businesses needed to adapt to the challenges surrounding various lockdowns and enforced restrictions, but influencers have also been forced to change their approach due to a lack of real-world events, locations and the support they are used to.
Due to the distressing fact that many people have lost their jobs and others have been living on a drastically reduced wage, we are likely to see a continuing rise in 'influencers' purely in it to earn money.
On the flip side, we are also likely to see those with a true passion for their niche beginning to build larger and stronger audiences. This is both due to the 'free time' that covid has afforded people, as well as the realisation by many that they actually can work from anywhere at any time.
In 2021, I also think we will see influencers leading the way into the 'new way' of doing things. Smart businesses will jump on the reach and trust developed by influencers to help them rebuild customer confidence, especially in sectors which rely heavily on human interaction such as retail and events.
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