blockquote.tiktok-embed { all: unset !important; } blockquote.tiktok-embed:before { content: none !important; } blockquote.tiktok-embed:after { content: none !important; }

Considering influencer marketing? Even if you aren’t, it would be a mistake to ignore influencer marketing trends. Beyond their role as effective brand ambassadors, influencers are also just good marketers. And advertisers can stand to learn a few things from them.

There’s a reason the influencer marketing industry is booming. According to a Business Insider Intelligence report, the market is set to nearly double from $8 billion in 2019 to $15 billion by 2022. The economic impact of the coronavirus could slow things down. But some experts note that the one-stop-shop creatives are also poised to benefit from higher screen times and closed studios.

From the rise of creators to the fall of celebrities and everything in between, these are the most important influencer trends to watch right now.

Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to inform your social strategy in 2020.

8 of the most important influencer marketing trends in 2020

Stay on top of these top influencer trends to make sure you’re getting the most out of your partnerships.

1. We don’t use the “I” word anymore

Influencer has become a bad word. “I don’t like to be called an influencer,” says Zaneb Rachid, the Moroccan travel and fashion blogger behind The Cherry Blossom, in a Facebook post. “It makes me feel uncomfortable when I hear it, as it seems like a BIG thing and it usually has a negative connotation, especially with social media.”

Dislike of the term isn’t new. Internet culture journalist Taylor Lorenz reported on a distancing from the label last year. Instead, “Creator” is emerging as a preferred term. Or re-emerging. Lorenz traces its social media etymology way back to 2011 on YouTube. Facebook has been running its Creator Studio since 2017. But 2020 may be the year it sticks across all platforms and properly overthrows the “I” word in places it’s reigned supreme—namely, Instagram.

Last year Instagram introduced Creator Accounts as an alternative to business profiles. The capital-C treatment gives creators the option to choose the term for their profile badge. Initially analog, “Creator” has now been replaced with “Digital Creator.” Video Creator and Gaming Video Creator are also options. “Influencer” is not.

View this post on Instagram

Annnnnddd we’re live. ???? Welcome to @creators, the place for creators like you to get inspired and up your game on Instagram. ????

A post shared by Creators (@creators) on Sep 29, 2019 at 5:54am PDT

TikTok and Byte call their stars as creators, too. Marketers may want to follow suit. One reason creatives shun the term “influencer” is because they want to be respected for their work, not its byproduct.

Here’s how to work with an Instagram influencer (or creator).

2. Competition for creators will heat up

There’s another reason the “influencer” mantle is being dropped. Creators are finding more ways to be paid directly for their content, rather than monetizing their influence via paid sponsorships.

TikTok stars receive Virtual Gifts from fans that can be cashed in for real money. Byte plans to pay creators up to $250,000 for quality content. YouTube pays its Partner Program creators for anywhere from $2 to $34 for every 1,000 video views.

YouTube just nabbed glamour Instagrammer James Charles to star in an original series. And now Quibi’s snatching up YouTubers with spicy deals. Even Hollywood agencies are trying to tap social talent.

View this post on Instagram

I am so excited to FINALLY announce my very own show, @instantinfluencer will be streaming on a @youtube screen near you for FREE starting April 24th. ???? This project has been a dream come true and I cannot wait for you all to see all of the hard work that went into it… Blend, but don’t blend in. ???? #instantinfluencer

A post shared by James Charles (@jamescharles) on Apr 1, 2020 at 12:03pm PDT

In addition to sponsorship and affiliate marketing, Instagrammers and YouTubers use the platforms to sell their own merchandise. And increasingly, they are translating their popularity to revenue opportunities on—and off—multiple channels. Cheer star Gabi Butler flipped her Instagram fame into TikTok, YouTube, and Cameo gigs.

Creators go where the cash flows. Same goes for brands. In response, platforms are doubling down on “creator hubs” that make it easier for creators and brands to connect. Late last year TikTok launched Creator Marketplace, and Facebook opened its Brand Collabs Manager to select Instagrammers.

View this post on Instagram

Here at Instagram, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support creators like you and help you turn your passion into a living. ???? Here’s three new updates to ensure we support the branded content ecosystem:⁣ ⁣ We’re now testing Instagram integration into the @Facebook Brand Collabs Manager, a one-stop-shop for creators to find brand partnerships and share their ????Instagram insights. ⁣ ⁣ And, because we know ❤️ counts are important for creators, we’re working to give you the option to share those with business partners. We're continuing to test private like counts in Feed for all users to ensure this change can benefit the community at large and we're excited to share more soon.⁣ ⁣ Finally, in order to keep our community safe, we’ll be updating our branded content policies in the coming year. This includes restrictions around what kind of products you can be paid to promote in branded content (things like vaping, alcohol, tobacco, weapons, weight loss supplements, etc.) ⁣ ⁣ Tap the link in bio to learn more. ????⁣

A post shared by Creators (@creators) on Dec 18, 2019 at 11:32am PST

This is good news for brands, too. According to a study by CreatorIQ and Influencer Marketing Hub, 39% of brands surveyed say it’s difficult to find influencers to participate in their campaigns. Sephora, meanwhile, launched a creator hub of its own with its #SephoraSquad, a apply-to-join beauty-influencer program.

Read our complete guide to influencer rates.

3. Celebrity influence is in decline

Imagine social media without celebrities. It’s not easy, but some tried after Gal Gadot’s celebrity-kumbaya cover of “Imagine” made the rounds. Or after catching Priyanka Chopra’s teary applause for healthcare workers, clapped from a secluded balcony.

Even before the coronavirus crisis, fatigue with the celebrity-influencer-complex was showing. Kendall Jenner’s $250,000 payout for a Fyre Fest Instagram post tapped a nerve. The festival’s fallout, which involved the duping of several over-privileged mega-influencers, was mocked on social media.

As responses like these reveal, people feel scammed by celebrity influencer culture. Spon-con like Khloe Kardashian’s bedazzled campaign with Febreze is why the word “authenticity” is now a buzzword. Without addressing the wealth gap between her and her audience, the post comes across more as a joke than a genuine endorsement.

Celebrity aloofness has been exacerbated by social and financial inequality. Laziness and lack of creativity don’t help either, as reactions to Tom Brady’s Molecule Sleep partnership show. “We can’t all afford luxuries,” reads one comment.

Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to inform your social strategy in 2020.

Get the full report now!

View this post on Instagram

Please buy this mattress (or topper) because I said so and I will be really mad at you if you don’t. @moleculesleep #airTEC #justbuyit #onemorehashtagandibreakmyowncoolcode

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on Mar 3, 2020 at 6:01am PST

The stock of celebrity has gone down in favor of relatable micro-influencers. Celebrities will always draw attention. But without brand alignment, awareness, and creativity, it may not be the kind of attention brands want.

@humphreytalksThis took me hours don’t let it flop ##billion ##money ##personalfinance ##rice ##xyzbca♬ original sound – humphreytalks

4. It’s easier to become an influencer, but harder to stay one

The influencer world seems to endlessly stratify into successive tiers, with a spectrum that spreads from mega to macro, to micro, to micro-micro, and nano.

There’s a lot of talk about the rise of micro and nano-influencers. And there’s reason for it: Micro-influencer campaigns work. A survey of influencers across tiers and platforms finds that nano-influencers (less than 1,000 followers) have a seven-times higher engagement rate than mega influencers (more than 100,000 followers). Measurements like these are why the number of micro-influencer campaigns have increased by 300% since 2016.

Typically, influencer tiers are defined by their follower counts. But what labels like these miss about the micro-influencer community is the type of content its creators deliver. From financial gurus to medical experts and bonafide entertainers, this cadre of creators builds their audience around expertise and talent, exchanging aesthetics for substance and motivational quotes for practical wisdom. In other words, they’re actually influential.

View this post on Instagram

won these scrubs from @shanny_do so long ago and finally able to wear them!!! ????????‍⚕️ wrote a new post about my general surgery rotation and kept it verrrryyy real lol. Lemme know your thoughts!

A post shared by Madison, MS4 (@omgmdtobe) on Jun 8, 2019 at 7:38am PDT

Social media is also a lot more accessible for novice creators. The popularity of “now you see it, now you don’t” formats like TikTok and stories remove the class barriers that underpin feed aesthetics. Creators no longer need an expensive camera, photoshop skills, and a passport to produce quality content. There’s just as much appetite—if not more—for real and raw stuff that anyone with a smartphone can make.

View this post on Instagram

What makes you and your content unique? ????

A post shared by Creators (@creators) on Dec 27, 2019 at 9:28am PST

More advertiser dollars and direct revenue streams have made influencer careers for low-income creators not only viable, but lucrative. At the same time, brands are keen to promote diversity and authenticity through their partnerships. Sephora describes its influencer squad as “unique, unfiltered, sorry-not-sorry storytellers.” And there’s increased pressure for brands to celebrate original creators over imitators.

Fewer barriers to attaining social stardom also means more competition. Influencers have to work incredibly hard to keep their audience constantly engaged—making burnout a real problem.

Read 17 expert tips from influencers on how they became Instagram famous.

5. Values will be central to influencer briefs

Of all the recent influencer marketing trends, this one seems to be positive for both influencers and consumers.

Consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions informed by their values. From environmental impact to inclusive workplaces practices, people are willing to pay a premium to buy from brands with practices that align with their principles.

As a result, values have moved to the foreground of brand campaigns, especially when it comes to influencer marketing. Brand trust is crucial when it comes promoting values, and the right influencer can be a good vector for both. If they have the trust of their audience and already walk the walk, they can have more impact when they talk the talk.

View this post on Instagram

Driving along the California coast was so beautiful – I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to make this trip. For my trip to Big Sur, I packed along these shoes from @SeaVees. They’re made almost entirely from recycled materials, and even better, the company has partnered up with @sea.trees. It’s a non profit that works to regenerate ocean health globally by restoring coastal ecosystems. And after my little road trip, I have an even greater love for my coast. #showupinseavees #sponsored

A post shared by Courtney Halverson (@prettylittlefawn) on Feb 13, 2020 at 6:41am PST

But when the opposite is true, influencer marketing can become a risk for brands. Companies can face backlash for partnering with people who have problematic values, and questionable influencer decisions can jeopardize brand reputations.

For instance, Nordstrom was forced to address criticism after its former partner/influencer Arielle Charnas relocated from New York to the Hamptons during the coronavirus crisis, despite federal guidelines restricting non-essential travel.

In one study, 49% of influencers believe brand safety is occasionally a concern when it comes to influencer marketing. And in an increase from last year, 34% believe it is always a concern. Influencers come under scrutiny and care about credibility, too. So, expect stronger vetting to take place on both sides of the bargaining table.

6. Partnerships will be longer-term and less transactional

Just as like counts have disappeared on Instagram, the role of vanity metrics has diminished in influencer partnerships. Brand goals for influencer campaigns have shifted from awareness to sales. According to CreatorIQ and Influencer Marketing Hub’s report, the most common measurement for influencer campaign performance is now conversions.

Marketers may measure return on investment, but ways of measuring it have become more flexible. “I don’t think ROI is ever going to be attainable if brands continue to try and use traditional digital metrics from platforms outside of social as measurement,” says James Nord, founder of influencer marketing platform Fohr, on its blog. He recommends brands treat Instagram profile visits as website traffic, follows as newsletter signups, story highlights as a company blog, and make the whole experience shoppable.

One-off campaigns will likely decrease in favour of long-term partnerships. “It’s become way too transactional and we are moving away from that,” Nord said in an Instagram Live interview with Matthew Kobach, manager of digital and social media for the New York Stock Exchange. “We’re not going to do campaigns under three months long.”

For Nord, the long-term strategy goes back to The Rule of Seven marketing adage. According to the rule, it takes about seven ads to inspire a sale. When the average Instagram Story is only viewed by 5% of an audience, and the average swipe-up rate is 1%, multiple posts simply stand a better chance of reaching the right audience when they’re ready to buy.

Longer partnerships can also be more persuasive. Where one-offs come across more blatantly as ads, regular collabs make it easier to believe an influencer endorsement.

7. Short video continues to be a top influencer format

If the success of TikTok isn’t enough of an indication of the popularity of short video, the fact that Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, WeChat, Byte and Quibi are betting on the format should be.

Influencers have found a way to use social video to great effect. Whether starting hashtag challenges on TikTok or offering makeup tutorials on IGTV, the format gives creators a more dynamic way to engage with followers.

In many ways, video is a better format for step-by-steps, Q&As, and tips—and this type of content is particularly popular with beauty influencers, career coaches, wellness experts, and other popular influencer categories. Video is also a good way to get discovered. On Instagram, IGTV videos appear four times larger than photos in the explore tab.

View this post on Instagram

I created this look for Laura Mercier Ig takeover! skin @lauramercier lumière foundation, concealer & translucent powder, brows @lauramercier pomade and powder duo , eyes @lauramercier caviar stick in burnished bronze , @lauramercier highlighter in seduction ???? #TheWhitneySmile

A post shared by The Whitney Madueke (@whitneymadueke) on Jul 14, 2019 at 12:06pm PDT

Live streams have blown up in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, and they may have staying power—especially since they’re known for driving engagement. According to Facebook, live video averages six times more engagement than regular video.

Learn how to host successful virtual events.

8. Stricter guidelines for advertisers are coming

The line between sponsored and organic influencer content has always been murky. And the goal posts are constantly moving as formats, platforms and policies change. But with influencer marketing spending higher than ever, and disinformation plaguing social media, federal regulators are making moves.

One example of this is the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s recent call for review of its endorsement guidelines. It cites a new Facebook policy that allows advertisers to pay to promote “organic” influencer posts on Instagram as an impetus for the review.

The regulator has issued warning letters to influencers, but plans to come down harder on advertisers. “When individual influencers are able to post about their interests to earn extra money on the side, this is not a cause for major concern. But when companies launder advertising by paying someone for a seemingly authentic endorsement or review, this is illegal payola,” says commissioner Rohit Chopra.

Elements of existing guidelines could soon be codified into formal rules, meaning advertisers would face civil penalties and be liable for damages for violations. The FTC also plans to develop a set of requirements for platforms along with requirements for influencer contracts. Children’s privacy and safety policies may also come under additional review.

Make your influencer marketing activities easier with Hootsuite. Schedule posts, engage with influencers, and measure the success of your efforts. Try it free today. 

Get Started

The post 8 Important Influencer Marketing Trends to Watch Right Now appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.