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5 influencer marketing trends to look out for in 2021

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By Beth Oddy, UK Sales Manager, Tribe

2020 saw brands dealing with their fair share of creative roadblocks, which in turn led to some innovative ways to reach consumers. Influencers—with their work-from-home lifestyles and boundless creativity—proved critical in assisting brands to maintain that conversation with their target markets.

Although there is hope for calmer waters in 2021, we’re confident brands and influencers will continue to demonstrate the innovation that saw them survive the last 12 months.

Whether you’re thinking of incorporating influencer marketing into your brand strategy, or would like to achieve greater ROI from your existing efforts, here are five defining digital marketing trends to keep your eye out for this year. 

Live streaming won’t slow down 

Most of us were left craving the real life connection and human interaction you get from in-person events. So savvy marketers and influencers tried to fill the gap. They recreated live events via live streams, connecting with audiences in new and meaningful ways. The result? Live streaming saw massive growth in 2020 and has become one of the most prominent influencer marketing trends.  

Consumers watched over 7.46 billion hours of content across all live streaming platforms in Q3 of 2020—a massive 92% growth year on year. Amazon Live made live streams shoppable, IGTV and Twitch were used more than ever before, and we haven’t even gotten started on TikTok. 

We don’t doubt that the live stream trend is here to stay with 91% of businesses planning to continue streaming post pandemic and 81% confirming it’ll be a social media priority in 2021.

We also predict a surge in hybrid events, where some guests attend in person and others tune in from wherever they are in the world.

Influencers will continue to lead the way with live stream content creation, emphasising what were already fundamental influencer marketing strengths: authenticity and an ability to create in-the-moment buzz.

Video will only become more critical

So what role will social video play in this new and wonderful age of live streaming? Last year, influencers with an eye on algorithms and engagement were at the forefront of the social video reign:

  • Hashtag challenges on TikTok (which flooded all social media channels)
  • Makeup tutorials on IGTV
  • Step-by-steps 
  • Behind-the-scenes sneak peaks
  • Q&A’s

Video formats allowed influencers to connect with their audiences—and those of the brands they work with—in a dynamic and relatable way. So it’s only natural that video will grow to work alongside live streaming; as its more polished, edited counterpart that maintains the power to engage viewers across the board.

It’s more than likely that influencers will be using social video to its fullest advantage throughout 2021, pushing marketers to up their video creativity.

TikTok will continue its quest for world domination

TikTok’s continual rise to social media dominance was perhaps the most game changing of all trends. Their stats went through the roof in 2020 and their platform now boasts 800 million users, a whopping 75% of whom are active daily users

TikTok has also done an excellent job of enticing influencers to post on the site. The Creator Fund was first set up in the US, paying influencers for their work. There’s now a similar fund for influencers in the UK and Europe, so we can expect to see more influencers making TikTok a platform of choice. So for brands targeting Gen Z, it’ll be the place to maintain a presence—especially with the prediction that they’ll surpass 1 billion monthly active users in 2021.

Brand values will take centre stage

2020 was full of big changes. It wasn’t just COVID-19 and the “new normal”; it was The #BLM movement, climate change, inequality, mental health and diversity and inclusion. A whole host of long-lived societal issues came to the forefront and audiences expected brands to step up and voice their stance on these topics.

It’s never been clearer that brand values matter, with research showing that consumers were happy to pay a premium in order to shop with brands that aligned with their values.

A failure to engage with these issues became a big no-no; as did talking up a set of values without actually demonstrating them. Consumers were quick to point out brand hypocrisy and bandwagon jumping wherever they saw it.

Going into 2021, brands will:

  • Make a concerted effort to work with influencers from all walks of life
  • Be transparent about their supply chain
  • Be urged to share info on business inclusivity and equality

Brands that demonstrate an awareness of the bigger societal picture will generate a lot of goodwill and develop deeper connections with their consumers.

Influencers will play a pivotal role in conveying brand values to audiences. By harnessing the sincere and genuine nature of influencers, brands will be able to communicate their stance on a range of issues in a way that resonates with their target market.

Celebrity influence will continue to decline

As discussed above, inequalities were highlighted during the pandemic. Some audiences were less than happy to see celebrity influencers living lives relatively untouched by COVID-19.

Celebrities came across as disconnected from the real world worries that many people were experiencing and a fair few celebrities didn’t have the sense to keep quiet… cue Gal Gadot’s rendition of ‘Imagine’. This tone-deaf response to the pandemic sped up an influencer marketing trend that was already in motion; that of declining celebrity influence.

We’d already seen celebrity posts where brand instructions had been included in captions (a la Little Mix), revealing the transactional nature of promotional posts and scrapping any feel of authenticity. We’d also witnessed partnerships that just didn’t work (like Khloe Kardashian using Febreeze).

Celebrities may reach huge audiences but without true brand alignment and authenticity, that marketing budget is best spent elsewhere. Enter micro-influencers, who in 2021 will become a brand’s first port of call, making influencer marketing worth it. These just-like-us Creators will produce content and engagement figures that justify the marketing investment.  

Which influencer marketing trends will your brand capitalise on in 2021?

Still not sure what your 2021 influencer marketing strategy looks like? Check out this free 2021 Guide to Influencer Marketing.


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