- As we enter a brand new year, we want to crystal gaze into what the year holds for us.
- In today’s feature, experts from the
Influencer MarketingIndustry tell us a few key trends and opportunities that the industry will bring forth as we move forward in 2021.
After the COVID-19-induced lockdown, with TVC shoots on hold and people stuck at homes, brands realised that the influencer marketing model is well-suited in a time in which the audience is looking for some inspiration, searching DIY videos, learning new recipes or focusing on self care. This posed a good opportunity for brands and influencers to engage with their audiences with impactful messaging. Brands realigned their strategies, opened up their budgets for digital media to leverage the rising demand for influencer marketing.
Today, Indian audiences are watching more online videos than ever before. Nielsen studies show that home-bound consumers have led to a 60% increase in the amount of video content watched globally. The number of live video sessions conducted on social media platforms by content creators also hiked in 2020. As per Facebook US, in the first months of the pandemic alone, the number of users watching live video increased by 50% and the platform launched additional features to support video creators.
There was also a shift in perspectives and communication tone -- driving away from superficial, in-your-face, sales-driven content to a more meaningful, two-way and purpose-driven conversation. More content creators and brands started talking about the causes they believe in.
To weather the storm of trimmed advertising budgets in the first half of the year, influencers turned to alternative revenue sources like selling merchandise or launching direct-to-consumer products. As a result, COVID has spawned strong growth in influencer marketing and creators have cemented their position boosting consumer trust in 2020.
Keeping in mind how 2020 revolutionised the digital industry, we reached out to a few influencer marketing agencies to understand what does the future hold and how is the ecosystem shaping up. Here is what they said:
Anuja Deora Sanctis, Founder and CEO, Filter Coffee Co:
Influencers this year have used a variety of features to promote brands. There was an increased focus on short Video content, especially Reels, as it is being heavily promoted by Instagram and is cost-effective compared to long videos, providing more authenticity and engagement. Driving brand advocacy through genuine users and exploring varied types of influencers from different walks of life also saw great engagement and growth. For example, for one of our clients in skincare, we collaborated with Face Yoga Expert, Nutritionist, Chefs, and that benefited the brand a lot.
The one trend that will grow massively in 2021 will be the rise of Micro & Nano influencers. This is mainly due to high engagement, authenticity, and low-costs and is relevant in the current scenario as most brands have slashed budgets. Apart from the trends in general for influencers, one area where it is really working is skincare and cosmetic brands. Influencers are able to display the benefits and usage of products, so in a lockdown situation, where people cannot go and try the product, they are totally buying what the influencer is saying.
Also, because of the way lifestyle e-commerce has developed, like Nykaa, Amazon, etc, to drive traffic to these platforms, you need swipe-up links through stories. Since not many brands have 10,000 followers, they are dependent on influencers to push traffic to their website and drive CTA. This trend is termed Influencer Commerce and I foresee it being one of the most demanded categories next year.
Viraj Sheth - Founder and CEO,
The biggest trend in influencer marketing in 2021 is going to be creators becoming founders and brand owners. So far, creators have only been resorting to platform revenues and brand deals as major sources of revenues. Although, in 2021, we are going to witness a huge wave of content creators building value-adding brands which are not just selling merchandise but products and services of all varied kinds. We are also going to start observing big brands partnering with creators on equity deals which will incentivise creators to build much deeper, valuable relationships with the brands.
Neel Gogia, Co-founder,
2020 has been like a catalyst for the growth of Influencer Marketing in India, not only we explored lots of new content creators but more brands also showed interest in working with influencers for their respective goals. We can expect a trend where more brands heavily focus on the strategies of their influencer marketing campaigns. Gone are the days where you can just hold a product and click a selfie to promote a brand. I feel both influencers and brands will evolve and explore creative ideas collectively to create engaging content.
Brands will work with agencies who provide them interesting campaign ideas rather than just a list of influencers and expected reach which happens most of the time. This will make them stand out from other branded content which is already out there and might not be engaging to the audience.
Apaksh Gupta, Founder & CEO, One Impression:
2020 has changed the perspective of both brands and influencers, leading to a paradigm shift in functionality of influencer marketing. A trend that the ecosystem is harping on and that undeniably is gaining momentum, is the content consumption pattern. Steering away from pictures, people are consuming more videos than ever. They like to be updated with influencers’ lives, which creates space for smart product integrations that brands are now leveraging! Well established platforms like Reels, YouTube, Facebook coupled with new-age ones like Triller & Moj have attracted avid video lovers to create and share short-format videos. In fact, live sessions have been devoured all the more, due to the content relatability and authenticity. Additionally, audio format content (podcasts) has started booming, and we may see it becoming as powerful as videos, in 2021!
Ankit Agarwal, Founder, Do Your Thng:
2020 was the most sobering of realities. It was also the year the rest of the world discovered Dalgona coffee, TikTok got banned, and influencer marketing went to its grassroots.
The black swan of 2020 awoke businesses to the power of social platforms and content creators. Creators restored their focus on delivering content that adds genuine value. They also played an integral role in building a sense of community; something people searched for when living in isolation. From a marketing standpoint, we saw a momentous shift from sales-driven campaigns to social good and charities. The lockdown and work from home, which we took to like ducks to water, pushed the needle on one more front.
Marketers started bringing in influencers into the creative conversation earlier. Something, we’d been pushing for years. Brands also recognized that creators are more than a vehicle for sales. They can be credible communicators and excellent platforms to listen to changing consumer desires. As our co-founder, who we onboarded recently, Hemant Dua, Ex-CEO of Delhi Daredevils, affirms, the year was a bellwether for what lies ahead. We have ventured through the backwoods, and are finally headed to a more well-travelled path. Both our product and team saw dramatic growth. We’re closing at almost 4 times to what we were last year.
As for 2021, I feel it will be a content and creator moment. Till now, brands gave credibility to creators. In the time to come, creators will bring credibility to brands.
Shahir Muneer, Founder and Director, Divo:
Divo has been at the forefront of influencer marketing since the beginning of this segment around 2017. While we have seen tremendous growth ourselves in excess of 100% growth year on year since then, here are few trends for 2021 that we see around the corner. Outcome or engagement-based model:
There is a good number of brands/advertisers who have been using influencer marketing for well over 2 years now, and while influencers have so far been limited to scrutiny on their creative or content and their basic stats like followers, reach. We will see multiple advertisers look at the historical data and see what outcome like installs or sales they got via these influencers, and set the price or even inclusion into campaigns. Engagement rate will be a key parameter going forward and purely a high follower count won't suffice. While a shift from paying upfront to an affiliate or performance-based pricing model is not likely immediately, but that is where we are headed to in the future, and this is the beginning for it. Hence it's not enough for influencers to make interesting content, but also be able to engage with their audience and make it a 2-way conversation.
Ramya Ramachandran, Founder & CEO, Whoppl:
It is interesting to note how influencer marketing was such a defining phenomenon in the year 2020. Now that brands have fully realised the kind of credibility and cachet that influencers bring to the forefront, one can only wonder how they will now spread their eventual overarching bosom and become an indispensable must-have for a holistic marketing endeavour.
2021 will see the rise and prominence of commerce-led influencer marketing, which will make it imperative for influencer-curated content to drive a relatable conversion. Brands would now like to see how an influencer churns out content that is authentic, and how that content is so relatable that it will lead to a sure-shot, subsequent conversion.
If content was King all this while, 2021 will be a game of chess where ‘relatable content’ is the Queen.
Kunal Kishore Sinha, Co-founder, ClanConnect:
Gone are the days of creating content just for the sake of it. 2021 will be all about content with context. The number of influencers in India has witnessed explosive growth over the past year. Content which is not relatable, won’t get the desired engagement. So, the trick is to understand the context, get the background, and then create content that hits just the right mark.
How can influencers gain this context? By getting the right insights through data analysis. The purpose of influencer campaign, at the heart of it, is creating engaging, interactive content for the consumers on behalf of a brand. Data analysis can present a wealth of insights about the audience base, the kind of content that has worked for them in the past, popular topics keywords searched by consumers, and more, allowing influencers to create content that will have a deeper impact and achieve the highest ROI. Context backed by data will, then, be the mantra of influencer activity in 2021.
Prashant Sharma, Chief Marketing Officer, Nofiltr Group:
Influencer marketing was a highly likely outcome of the pandemic, not only because of the availability of the campaign but also because of the changing way among the audience to receive communications. Demand is shifting, and both brands, as well as content creators, need to understand more about the value of content and what needs to be out in the market to captivate the attention of their targeted audience so as to thrive in a post-covid world. We are expecting that influencer marketing is here to stay and grow more and more. Brands have started relying more on content creators now to communicate their message to consumers in a more natural way, to maintain their relevance and meet their target audience online. Just because of this, content creators will have an upper hand. The industry of Influencer marketing is on track to become a $15 billion dollar industry by 2022 and it shows no sign of slowing down at all.
Influencer marketing is going to be a game-changer in the times to come. 2020 literally gave a platform to several new content creators and brands also did not shy away from leveraging their skills and popularity to their own benefit. A massive trend that we can expect to witness moving forward is how brands will merge content marketing, influencer marketing and social media marketing. They will focus more on finding and partnering with those influencers who share similar values as themselves and will enter into long-term relationships with them, rather than onboarding them on a contractual basis. As for the content creators, they will be creating more audio and video content. So podcasts will become the next big thing along with the likes of Instagram Reels. Also, micro-influencers will emerge in huge numbers who do not have many followers but enjoy the popularity amongst a niche audience. Such influencers will help brands find their foothold with the specific group of people who would align with the goals of the brands. And the best part about such micro-influencers is that their audiences frequently engage with them. How events unfold will be interesting to watch.