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For as long as humans have existed on earth, so has influencer marketing.
Imagine the cave dwelling communities of 2,000 years ago — each looked to their neighbor for insight into the latest animal skin fashion, where to find the nearest hot-ticket berry patch or what sort of home safety precautions to take.
Fast-forward to 2020 and most businesses (upwards of 90%) invested heavily in their social media game, striving to give their products and messages “organic reach” or “viral” momentum. These days, you can’t hope to achieve such goals without the help of — you guessed it — influencer marketing.
Why? Simple: influencers make marketing more personal. It wasn’t so long ago that business owners sank thousands or millions of dollars into one commercial aimed at gaining trust and buy-in from a wide spectrum of demographics. Now, brands can segment endlessly, attracting very specific consumer groups through influencers who already did the hard work of winning their trust … but these days, trust (while essential) only takes you so far toward actual conversion. New, fresh influencers are “born” every day, making the social media landscape a definite “follower’s market” with a veritable buffet of choices.
Still, by paying close attention to key consumer interests and social media successes, you can hone in on exactly what followers want to see this year from their favorite personalities … and how to carve a space for yourself in the 2021 influencer market:
- Environmental impact. You’d be surprised at exactly how much impact influencer marketing exerts on the environment. Consider aspects such as the direct influence on consumer behavior and buying, in addition to the products influencers themselves accept and use. This impact has long remained a dialogue between and among influencers, outside of the public arena. In 2021, we can expect much more visible conversation on climate impact and action among influencers who desire to limit (among other things) the impact of their gifted and sponsored products on the natural world.
- Opinionated activism. Last year, amid the growing visibility of injustices within our nation, influencers were given a golden opportunity to speak out about things that matter … and many did just that. In a social media landscape where, at one time, influencers were expected to remain neutral for fear of losing followers, a greater majority began to freely express opinions — controversial or otherwise — outside of their content lanes. Consumers ate it up. In fact, this sort of authenticity and openness became closer to the norm. While politics remain a sore subject, expect influencers and brands to align together on common values just as much as they align on product value.
- Keep it local. The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine means international travel may jump into hyperdrive. For now, sensitivities to potential exposure still drive a strong focus on domestic tourism. Travel within the country, or even just to a neighboring city, feels safer and more accessible. As a result, influencers and consumers alike have discovered some amazing sights and experiences right in their own backyards. Throughout early 2021, it’s most likely that influencers will continue the exploration of their own home countries, driving a strong return to interstate and local travel.
- Visual supercharge. Consumers love video. It feels more authentic and real. In fact, trends show that short-form video has steadily dominated social media for the last two years. Now, those willing to embrace livestreaming and film get a powerful boost in their organic reach, as Google moves to index video content from outlets like Instagram and TikTok, supercharging the visibility of influencers’ content creations. No longer will video be just a necessary part of the mix — it will be THE mix … making influencer marketers who incorporate it into their strategy all the more powerful and profitable.
Establishing a solid influencer platform in today’s constantly shifting social media landscape can be challenging for many big-name brands and small businesses alike.
The good news? You can create incredible market impact just by leaning into more of what makes you … you. Find ways to keep planet-first initiatives and topics top-of-mind. Express the social and political values that mean the most to your brand. Explore the domestic beauty right in your own backyard. Tap into the power and authenticity of video and live streaming.
You’ll be surprised how quickly your influencer reach grows when you embrace the confidence to be boldly, uniquely yourself.
Kyle Hjelmeseth is the founder of G&B, redefining digital talent management with integrity and empowering over 900 influencer clients worldwide to build unique brands that generate multi-millions in revenue. One of the nation’s foremost thought leaders on digital talent management/global digital trends, Hjelmeseth established the College of Influence, a free online platform educating influencers on core principles of sales strategy/entrepreneurship. His Normalize Equality initiative sets new industry standards of diversity and inclusion. Catch up with Hjelmeseth on Instagram.