Content creation had never been more popular, if anything, the market of this industry would only expand and scale in a much more rapid rhythm. Whether you are a startup looking for simple appreciation posts or a corporation looking for a top-notch brand ambassador, understanding the trends in the past year would be extremely helpful if you are looking for the right people to work with.
2022 has been a special year. Global inflation, movements shifting from focusing on Covid-19 to post-pandemic recovery, cost of goods jumping up due to shortage of supply, etc. Companies around the globe continue to battle through a slowly stimulated economical environment, fighting past the obstacles of labor shortages, lack of talents, low budget campaigns, etc. The list goes on but perhaps the worst is that during the pandemic, we have developed an overly-skeptical consumption behavior. Personally, I would blame the overwhelming choice we had on masks, health products, or even thermometers. We can go on and elaborate more on how the macro environment has impacted the globe both financially and politically, but that’s not why you are here.
You are probably here because you are looking to partner with influencers, but don’t know where to start, or who to collaborate with. If this is the case, then you have come to the right place, we will reveal what are the fastest growing trends for you.
Influencer marketing has grown to a $13.8 billion industry in 2021 and is estimated to increase to $16.4 billion in 2022. Not only did the market size see significant magnification, but there is an influx in talents as well. Influencer marketing had been a phenomenal disruption on how brands can engage in a more precise and personalized manner, and trust in brands has shifted towards trust in individuals/influencers during the past 3 years.
Here are the 5 influencer marketing trends that you can’t ignore in 2022:
By creating eye-catching content based on their profession, hobby, and funny moments in real life, influencers nowadays are not limited to professional video editors and photographers but also teachers, personal mentors, investors, and even housewives. Many influencers have gotten rid of corporate contracts and constraints to operate as individual entrepreneurs and develop their own brands and businesses. As a result, the categories of influencers in each social media platform are seeing an increase in variety.
For example, Brittany Sinitch has a combined cumulative of around 300,000 followers on her Instagram & Youtube. Her main content is mostly based on her life as a middle school teacher. Meanwhile, she is the founder of The Unbreakable Organization, which assists individuals and communities in need and supports them with mental health mentorship.
Influencers as a mentor had definitely seen enormous growth in the past few years. On the other hand, fitness influencers had attained incredible numbers of followers on Instagram during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since people are stuck at home and cannot receive professional training from their personal trainer, fitness influencers have mostly shifted towards social media platforms to create online classes, live yoga lessons, and tailor-made training programs for the sake of business continuity. One thing for sure is that personal trainers have come to understand that they should promote themselves as the brand instead of waiting for fitness gyms to reopen. Kayla Itsines has 14.9 million followers on her Instagram where she shares workout videos and her meals. Other than that, she created a number of publications focusing on BBGs (Bikini Body Guides), and her training platform “Sweat With Kayla” has led her to be some of the most well-known figures in the fitness industry worldwide. It is a perfect example of how an influencer could build his/her services using her own influence.
Since the majority of the world was experiencing lockdown, the gaming and streaming industries were the ones who benefit the most while most people spent more time online. Thus, game streamers/tutorial influencers have significant growth, especially on YouTube. VanossGaming is one of YouTube’s most prominent gaming influencers. VanossGaming’s YouTube channel features videos of him playing video games with other YouTube gamers. Most of his followers appreciate the instant reactions and humorous conversations between him and his friends.
2022 certainly was a huge leap for influencers to become more industry-specific, as long as they show interest in a specific topic, their followers would feel the personalization within their content and therefore trust more towards them more within the sector of their specialty.
Diversity and inclusion are always the hottest topics around the globe, which by the way also stimulate the growth of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) related campaigns and practices over the past few years. The most prominent supporters of this initiative are actually Gen-Z & Millenials. For sure that does not only create awareness of good ethics, it also functions as a commercial value adder in many ways. Diversity of products has been a huge success during the early years of this century, highlighting the creation of dairy-free and sugar-free options in consumer goods. In addition, the usage of influencers would also show a brand’s capability in absorbing an entirely different target audience.
The most successful inclusive influencer marketing campaign is the Sephora Squad Program, it collaborates with influencers and brand ambassadors to take awareness from different communities. The strategy of Sephora Squad was to gather testimonials from followers of influencers in order for them to become part of Sephora Squad. The campaign’s goal was twofold. Firstly, engaging with micro-influencers helps them to engage with an entirely new target audience. Secondly, by helping influencers grow, it creates awareness of how Sephora accepts and embraces differences between different individuals. As a result, Sephora is getting a high number of user-generated content from users all over the world while these engagements are much more organic, this part will be continued in the next trend of influencers in 2022.
While people are discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), two of the hottest topics have to be gender identity and racial equality. In fact, brands have to comply and make sure that they send the message that they care, due to one simple fact. The #IWD2022 (International Women’s Day) has a cumulative 3,200 channels and 5,000 videos alone on Youtube. In the meanwhile, #BLM (Black Lives Matter) has 101,000 videos & 3,900 videos. Each of these videos has easily reached out to millions and was seen by hundreds of thousands. It is essential for brands to understand the importance of utilizing a diversified workforce, and that includes the selection of influencers.
It is not uncommon that there are different interpretations when it comes to defining what influencers are between the West and the East. In China, influencers can be categorized into Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) and Key Opinion Consumers (KOC). KOLs are obviously what we called Macro/Mega-Influencers. In general, individuals who had accumulated more than 500,000 followers on 1 single social media platform can be recognized as a KOL while below can be categorized as a KOC. KOLs usually come in handy when you are looking for a brand ambassador, or when you want to blast out your reach to a broad market and see who responds. KOCs, on the other hand, are usually utilized when you know your target audience very specifically, as they have a higher engagement rate than KOLs. Another point to consider is that followers nowadays are much smarter and are aware of the compensated partnership between companies and KOLs. Thus, there is an increase in the use of KOCs in 2022 no matter in retail goods, fashion brands, or even games and apps.
In recent years, KOCs have cultivated a lot of popularity. According to Digital Information World, their market share had a 2% increase in 2021 compared with 2020. KOCs used to be negligible when brands choose their influencers to work with. However, the fact that KOCs are more accessible and their followers tend to be more loyal compared to well-established KOLs. Thus, usually, we see a much higher engagement rate and conversion rate in KOCs. Shopify reports that nano influencers have the highest average engagement rate among all tier influencers, sitting at about 5%.
Some reasons could explain why the engagement rate of nano influencers is the highest among influencers. As user-generated content grows increasingly popular, audiences expect the content they consume to be authentic and genuine. According to a YOTPO study, 41.5% of shoppers said they would not buy from a brand if they couldn’t access product reviews. In fact, 85% of consumers believe that user-generated content is more influential than any other type of brand content due to its credibility as it comes from an actual person who is just the same as any consumer.
Despite the heated debates around the topic of whether turning your own child into a cash cow on social media platforms are ethical, we still see a countless influx of “kidfluencers” within the industry. One of the most popular kidfluencers would be Everleigh Rose Smith Soutas. Everleigh has great talents in dancing and has accumulated 5 million+ followers on Instagram alone. She also collaborated with a few dancewear brands and help them easily reach out to millions of people with more than 1 million impressions in one post. It is to be noted that kidfluencers have a much higher engagement rate than brands and well-established influencers. The trend does not just stop in the U.S. though. Many other kidfluencers are joining the pool to be well-known and they get more organic growth than any other types of influencers. A few popular kidfluencers to keep an eye on around the globe: lucy.is.good, aqeefanaqi, etc.
In addition, kidfluencers are not the only influencer genre that is on the rise. It may seem strange, but many virtual characters are indeed now influencers commencing and endorsing huge brands. Some popular examples would be: lilmiquela (3 million followers on IG), noonoouri (398k followers), and rozy.gram (134k followers) etc. Brands are working with virtual influencers now more than ever, a few examples would be: Samsung, IKEA, Prada, etc. Since people are extremely fascinated with what the AI-generated influencers are doing on a daily basis, they do gain a lot of followers and engagements, especially during the pandemic. Nevertheless, virtual influencers also give significant competitive advantages to brands collaborating with them, since they are fully controllable, accessible, and always available.
Compared to other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, TikTok has fewer users and they are still catching up in terms of active users. However, TikTok did see the most YoY growth of more than 75%, while its per user engagement rate had been ranked #1 in the top 5 social apps (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok & Twitter).
TikTok ranked #1 among all apps and games by consumer spend in both Q1 2022 and the previous quarter — becoming the first app to ever beat a game in consumer spend in a given quarter — first in Q4 2021, and again in Q1 2022.
Furthermore, global spending in TikTok in Q1 2022 marked the biggest quarter for any app or game ever. The app surpassed $840 million in consumer spending worldwide, a 40% jump from Q4 2021. The US was among the primary drivers of growth — with consumer spending increasing 125% QoQ in Q1 2022.
Videos had become much more popular than ever on social media platforms, hence the rise of Bilibili and TikTok. The migration of photos to videos is so rapid, that even Instagram was copying a lot of features from TikTok, of course, that is before the action plan was halted since influencers like the Kidarshians, were strongly opposing.
Going back to TikTok, it had definitely become the influencer hub for every type of content. One of the few examples would be NFTs. The recognition of NFTs has increased over the past few years, and TikTok does create a platform for NFT specialists to share their knowledge and allow people that are interested to learn and communicate. The three most followed NFT influencers in Tik Tok are Cryptocomix, Gary Vaynerchuk and Gregmike. TikTok “NFT” search records 11.6 Billion+ and “NFT Influencers records 15.2 Billion+.
Despite the impressive numbers shown above, TikTok also created the ultimate platform for product owners and influencers to directly engage with their fans/followers in terms of selling goods. You might have guessed right already, live stream e-commerce has never been more popular and it is not exaggerating to say that Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok probably contributed the most to this. The president of Douyin E-commerce — Wei Wenwen shared that the company’s gross merchandise value (GMV) surged 320% year-on-year in the year ending in April as the company sold more than 10 billion products. Although no specific numbers have been disclosed, we estimated that Douyin should be clocking in no less than RMB 1 Billion this year solely on GMV. TikTok is perhaps not as mature as its Chinese brother, but it is not difficult to imagine that once this heats up in Southeast Asia since it is a more compatible market in live stream commerce than the US or Europe, the market would see a rapid growth beyond our imagination.
Influencer marketing trends are always interchanging but sometimes the old trends started to rejuvenate out of nowhere. One thing that does not change is that the industry would only be pushing forward, as the trust pattern had changed immensely over the past decades. With no doubt that China is still ahead of the game in terms of building a mature ecosystem. However, there is substantial evidence supporting the fact that Southeast Asia would be the next to adopt and embrace the Chinese model. 2023 would be a huge drawback for the global economy as a recession is ostensibly reaching. It would be harder for brands to determine if marketing budget allocations are worth the money, however, it is exactly when influencer marketing would become more affordable again. Furthermore, this is the time your company should try to run a few different marketing campaigns, and try out a few A-B tests to see which target audience reacts the best to your brands and partnered influencers. These downtimes are also the best times for you to build long-term relationships with influencers as well! Just remember to be flexible and rather than putting all your budget in one place, do not afraid to try new things!
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