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Influencer Marketing Evolved trends

How Has Influencer Marketing Evolved In Recent Years And What New Trends Are Emerging?

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In recent years, influencer marketing has gained tremendous popularity as a marketing strategy among businesses of all sizes. The power of influencer marketing lies in its ability to connect brands with their target audience through trusted and authentic influencers who have a strong following on social media. In fact, according to a survey, 93% of marketers now practice influencer marketing, and 69.8% of them plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2020. However, the concept of influencer marketing is not entirely new. Marketers have been featuring influential people in their ads for decades to sway consumer purchasing decisions. With that in mind, let’s explore how influencer marketing has evolved in recent years and what new trends are emerging.

Evolution of Influencer Marketing

The history of influencer marketing goes way back. In the 18th century, there was a British potter named Josiah Wedgwood. He used to make beautiful cream-colored artwork and Queen Charlotte gave him an official title – “Her Majestry’s Potter.” Back in that period, the Queen was the most influential person, and using this influence, Josiah leveraged his new status and promoted his pottery as “Queensware”, which was the first luxury brand back then. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, brands used real celebrities and public figures as influencers to promote their products. However, during the next era, brands began using fictional characters as influencers to appeal to their target audience. Coca-Cola popularized the image of Santa Claus in 1932 during the Great Depression to convey cheer and help consumers remember the joyful qualities of the company. In the 1970s, Quaker Oats created the fictitious character “Little Mikey” to appeal to a younger audience. The “Mikey Likes It” commercial was so successful that it won a Clio Award and ran for 13 years. The use of fictional characters as influencers was a successful marketing strategy for brands to sway consumer decisions and create relatable content.

Coca-Cola x Santa Claus

After the era of fictional characters, brands again began using real celebrities as influencers to promote their products. Celebrities had real preferences and a mass following due to their fame, making them effective in convincing consumers to buy endorsed products. Brands like Nike and Pepsi formed partnerships with celebrities to advocate for their products in exchange for publicity. However, as time passed, celebrity endorsements became less effective as people could not always relate to their over-the-top lifestyles.

In the 21st century, The rise of social media gave birth to a new generation of influencers, with reality TV stars leading the way. The authenticity and relatability that made reality TV personalities successful translated well to social media, where audiences craved content that felt genuine and personal. Social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube provided a way for influencers to connect directly with their audience and build their own personal brand.

As the number of social media influencers grew, so did the demand for authenticity and transparency. Influencers were expected to disclose sponsored content and maintain an authentic voice to build trust with their audience. This led to a shift towards micro-influencers, who were seen as more authentic and relatable due to their smaller following and highly engaged audience.

Slowly the trend turned into more specific niche-based influencer marketing. Niche-based influencers are also seen as more authentic and relatable than traditional celebrities because they have a passion for their niche and are often considered experts in their field. They have built their following based on a shared interest, which allows them to connect with their audience on a deeper level and create highly targeted content that resonates with their followers.

Current Trends Of Influencer Marketing

In today’s digital world, influencers are at the forefront of marketing. They have become incredibly influential in promoting products and services, with 92% of consumers trusting recommendations from friends, family, and influencers. Even teenagers trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. 

Influencer marketing provides an 11x higher ROI than traditional digital campaigns. In fact, 74% of people use social media to discover and buy products, making it a powerful tool for brands. With the rise of ad-blocking software, working with influencers has become the more effective solution, as they promote products through content that is native to social media. 

Moreover, a survey conducted by Aspire shows that 69.1 percent of marketers work with influencers to generate content. Influencer-generated content is quick, cost-effective, authentic, relatable, and diverse, making it perform better than studio-shot creative. Brands can use it on their website, social media campaigns, emails, print ads, or even in-store displays.

However, it’s important for influencers to go dynamic and stay ahead of the curve to follow the latest trends and trends. Here are the current trends in the world of influencer marketing – 

Influencers as Creative Directors

Brands are collaborating with influencers more than ever before to create marketing campaigns that better connect with their target audiences. This partnership goes beyond traditional endorsement and extends to co-design product collections and styling campaigns. For instance, brands like Electric Picks and Tommy Hilfiger have joined force with influencers to create products and campaigns that appeal to their respective audiences. Electric Picks has collaborated with influencers on 19 product launches, while Tommy Hilfiger partnered with Depop sellers on a “Made By Tommy, Styled By Depop” campaign. 

Made By Tommy, Styled By Depop

AI in Influencer Marketing

The world of influencer marketing is constantly changing, and it’s essential for brands and creators to keep up with the latest trends and shifts. One of the newest trends is the use of AI-powered tools in content creation and distribution. With the help of AI, influencers like Tanyka Renee Henry, who specializes in travel, can expand their audience and explore new opportunities.

Conscious Consumption

Brands and influencers are using their platforms to promote positive change and encourage people to be more mindful of their impact on the environment and society. Maddie Wells, a popular beauty content creator on TikTok, is leading the way by highlighting the importance of finding products that work for individual needs. Wells has created a series where she discusses items that are frequently returned in the beauty industry, emphasizing that not all products work for everyone. By promoting more conscious and sustainable consumption practices, Wells is driving positive change in the beauty industry and encouraging customers and influencers to consider the impact of their choices.

Democratization of Monetization

Social media and digital platforms have transformed the way creators can connect with audiences and make money from their content. A prime example of this is Roblox, which has leveraged NFTs as a novel source of revenue, allowing creators to sell virtual items and experiences to players using blockchain technology This has provided new avenues for creators to monetize their work and interact with fans in exciting ways. 

Democratization of Monetization

Creator Support Network

Brands and retailers can help content creators and entrepreneurs by providing them with various resources such as equipment, networking opportunities, and career growth opportunities. Sephora, TikTok, and Digitas have partnered to create the Sephora x TikTok Incubator Program, which aims to help emerging creators overcome growth obstacles by offering educational training modules and insights from successful creators. The program also provides the opportunity to partner with Sephora’s top-rated beauty brands. This initiative is in conjunction with Publicis Groupe’s founding commerce agency partnership with TikTok.

Future Of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has proven to be successful, but there have been concerns in the industry about fraud and inauthenticity. Some people claim that influencer marketing is dead, and with the constantly changing social media landscape, it is uncertain what the future holds. 

Smart brands are shifting their focus to engaging with their wider community. They are expanding their influencer marketing efforts by bringing on different types of community members as brand partners. These members include influencers, customers, creatives, ambassadors, experts, affiliates, and employees. They all bring value in different ways and can become amazing brand advocates. 

Authenticity and reliability are crucial in every successful marketing campaign. Even fictional characters like Santa Claus and Quaker Oats’ “Mikey” were able to influence consumer perceptions and purchasing decisions. With the accessibility of social media, anyone has the ability to influence their peers’ purchasing decisions – especially when they are real, passionate fans of the brand. 

Therefore, brands are going back to the roots of influencer marketing by working with those who actually hold power to influencers. Instead of controlling their story and reputation, brands are letting their community do it for them.