As with almost every industry on the planet, influencer marketing and influencers have felt the effects of COVID-19. Purse strings tightened, while travel and social distancing restrictions added further complications. Creative vision had to change, and the industry was forced to look at alternative ways to communicate with their audience whilst keeping hold of their sought-after brand deals and collaborations.
Nevertheless, influencer marketing – in 2020 and beyond – is here to stay. Despite the cuts in marketing budgets, influencers have been (and will continue to be) key players in helping brands remain relevant.
So what have we learned over the past nine months, and what trends do we foresee playing out in the influencer industry?
Trends for influencer marketing in 2020 & beyond
COVID-19 helped propel forward key trends that were bubbling in the background, such as the more ‘unfiltered’, ‘unscripted’ everyday influencers.
This is something social media users have wanted for a long time: a more humanised approach to social media marketing.
In the peak of the pandemic we were all cooped up at home and needed content to relate to. Influencers have the unique ability to humanise a brand and create demand for products in the context of real life.
This has become especially important as social media users seek normality, escapism and guidance from those they trust. This was the case before COVID-19 but has solidified during these uncertain times, leading to significant influencer marketing growth in 2020.
Many social media managers will concur when we say that user-generated content tends to perform better than the editorial, ecommerce and dare we say it ‘stock’ images shared on social media. COVID-19 has helped consolidate this approach to a more unfiltered take to social media marketing.
COVID-19 has accelerated existing consumer trends, with consumers now spending up to 50% more time on social media on mobile. This has created a huge opportunity for brands, but also added extra pressure as the need to create relevant content to reach consumers is even more pertinent.
As previously mentioned, the unfiltered approach is fast becoming the desired content of consumers. With brands, agencies and photographers unable to shoot for months, this was the perfect opportunity for influencer marketing to grow in 2020, as influencers were able to fill the content gap.
Not only is this strategy cost effective, but it also allows brands to experiment with the more relaxed, human approach to content. Of course, it depends on the brand and if this approach fits with the target audience, but if it does, low-production content will help bridge the gap whilst marketing budgets remain tight. Note though that low-production should not equal low-quality – it should still be engaging and aligned with your brand.
High-street fashion brands, ASOS and Zara were key players in this approach, using influencers to shoot their next collections and incorporating these images into their wider marketing (email campaigns, ecommerce, and editorials) as well as social media profiles.
Realistic storytelling is now more important than ever, showing consumers how a product can elevate their everyday life. With this in mind, we envision that influencer marketing in 2020 and beyond will see brands working more closely with influencers to determine how their partnership can tell a story to an influencer’s audience that is not only on brand, but creates an impact.
In a way, the influencer becomes an extension of the creative team that also holds the keys to a massive, engaged and relevant audience.
Even luxury brands are taking note. French fashion house Celine incorporated a TikTok star into its latest show, soundtracking its spring/ summer 2021 men’s show with a song by Tiagz.
The musician is best known for ‘They Call Me Tiago’, a viral hit on the social media app. The collection is presented around a racing track in France, featuring skateboarder-style oversized knits, clashing prints, and trippy tie-dye t-shirts.
Celine designer Slimane took inspiration from the dancing teens that TikTok is best known for. The collection is called The Dancing Kid, describing it as a tribute to the kids who ‘staved off boredom by dancing, affirming their creative flair’ on the app during quarantine.
We all noticed it – especially during lockdown, many brands were jumping on the bandwagon and going LIVE.
Going Live (especially on Instagram) has its benefits as it notifies the user when the video begins, helping push consumers to your live video. Not only that, but brands can go live with an Influencer, tapping into two large audiences.
Going Live is a great way to humanise a brand, as it allows users to get a glimpse into the real lives of those who run their favourite brands…because who wouldn’t want to see the living room of Gucci’s social media manager?
Live segments were filling the feeds of fashion, luxury, and beauty-related channels. With no option but to stay home, the likes of Gucci, Oysho and Alexander McQueen have gone digital by bringing workout classes, DJ sets, workshops challenges, and interviews to their live content schedules. This has allowed brands not only to add value to audiences who are at home with more time on their hands but also brings an added element of authenticity to social media.
And with Live content being such a success, and many of us still working from home, we don’t see this trend going anywhere fast.
To discuss the future of influencer marketing in 2020 and beyond with one of our social media specialists, get in touch today.