With the influencer marketing space expected to grow to a net worth of $22.2 billion by 2025, it’s time to put our thinking caps on and take a look at the space we gestated from.
How does influencer marketing fare in 2023, and what are the trends that us influencer marketers need to be keeping an eye on?
More importantly, where is the industry heading?
What is influencer marketing?
Somewhere along the line of social media’s infant chronology, people realized that the posts they listed online actually carried weight with other social media users. And so, the influencer was born.
Influencer marketing, in its purest form, is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements from influencers. Influencers, are viewed as experts within their niche, and have a community of other people that follow them, listen to their advice and are generally influenced by their content.
Influencer marketing works because of the number of people that trust online creators, and the products they promote across their channels. 62% of consumers say that they value influencer recommendations more than celebrities.
The rise of influencer marketing in the digital age
Influencers were never part of a broader plan for the future of marketing. Instead, they came about by circumstance, the once minor factor that other people online valued the content they were posting.
YouTube has long been a nurturer of popular personalities; before the MrBeasts and the Jake Pauls were Ray William Johnson, Smosh, Ryan Higa, Zoella and Jaclyn Hill to name a few, remember those guys?
Despite its large success at drawing large audiences, YouTube, in the early 2010s, hadn’t quite figured out creator monetization. When Vine launched in 2013, its format of shorter videos got the ball rolling on short-form content. Vine required less work, whereas YouTube needed longer videos and less output. More significantly, shorter videos meant a higher demand for content. Higher demand for content meant an influx of content creators. Vine turned the casual videographer into a hero creator within 24 hours.
For all of Vine’s qualities, the app failed to invest in its creators, forcing the app to shut down in 2016. The platform’s top creators were cast across Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. However, out of Vine’s death came the birth of TikTok, adopting that same short-form formula that drove success years earlier.
Influencer marketing takes off
Mid-2010s is when influencer marketing really started taking off. During this time brands started to realize the potential of online creators, who were now being paid handsomely for brand sponsorships and endorsements.
In 2023, influencer marketing is a mainstream method. Brands have adapted their marketing efforts to enable online selling, or e-commerce, and building sentiment amongst online communities. 67% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next 12 months. Today, being an influencer is a genuine occupation that 54% of young people would embrace given the opportunity. Young people also trust influencers more than celebrities now, with reports suggesting millennials trust influencers 12% higher than their favorite celebs.
How Influencer Marketing has evolved
Fun fact, influencer marketing can be traced back to the late 1800s, when celebrities and royals were paid to endorse products. Just to make things difficult for us marketers, consumer habits are always evolving, and so we must adapt.
Influencer marketing a few years ago was still following the trend of partnering with the biggest names available, as if the more followers a creator had, the better the results. This is not the case, as we’ve seen, hence the rise of the micro and macro influencers. These influencers, ranging anywhere from 1,000 to the hundreds of thousands followers, have a much more personal connection with their audience, and have a stronger rate of engagement from their audience. More brands recognize the benefits of activating smaller influencers for long-term partnerships. Not only is this cost effective, a longer activation will enable more quality content, engagement and results.
Today’s consumer is receptive to an ads authenticity, which is why brands have had to refine their efforts over the years, a shift that can be linked to the expectations of Gen Z consumers. Take platforms like BeReal for example, an app that encourages real-time uploads without the use of filtering or brushing effects. Realness is the minimum requirement now, which extends to influencer marketing. The days of influencers pushing their followers to buy a product simply because they’ve been paid to do so are dwindling rapidly. Instead, brands have identified more unique and engaging ways to activate influencers, often activating around an initiative, or reactive trend.
A great example of brands targeting initiatives is MAC Cosmetics recent International Women’s Day campaign. The brand partnered with creators like ethanzhon, bringing women to grassroots soccer. Their campaign utilized influencers to empower adolescent girls and young women, embrace equity, challenge harmful gender roles and offer access to lifesaving sexual and reproductive health information.
How have influencers transformed modern marketing?
Influencer marketing has enabled brands to reach much more targeted audiences online. Their endorsements and product placements have evolved into an opportunity in which brands are able to tap into new communities.
An influencer’s audience is highly engaged, and has likely learned to trust the advice and recommendations from that influencer. This is a significant step for brands who no longer have to dedicate hours to cultivating audiences on their own.
While influencer marketing is not a one-stop-shop, it certainly enhances brand awareness by having a trusted creator represent your values.
Influencer marketing has brought forward a new understanding and expectation for brands. Credibility, trust and authenticity is key to modern marketing. By promoting your business through their channels, influencers enable these factors to flourish. It’s also effective due to the leverage of what social media users like about their respective platforms. Influencer marketing has helped brands establish messaging that users not only engage with, but actively seek out.
- On average, businesses make $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing
Data shows that businesses have been making a profit on their Influencer markeitng spend on average. The top 135 of brands are seeing revenue of $20 or more per every $1 spent.
- 60% of marketers say influencer content performs better than branded posts
While branded posts can be effective, 60% believe influencer-generated content is the most valuable for driving engagements and conversions.
- 8 out of 10 consumers purchased something after seeing it recommended by an influencer
Consumer trust in digital creators is at an all-time high. Influencer recommendations are driving purchasing decisions more than ever.
- 89% of marketers will increase their investment in 2023
Marketers who currently engage with influencer marketing will increase or maintain their investment in 2023.
2023 Influencer Marketing Trends
- Long-term client creator partnerships
Brands and influencers are expected to form long-term projects rather than one-off sponsored posts. Even influencers with the most engaged audiences will struggle to make real contribution in a single post. Campaigns in the longterm are much more effective, helping brands foster stronger relations with influencers in the process.
- Inclusivity & Representation
We’re witnessing a greater emphasis on diversity and representation industry-wide. Brands have started to represent more diverse communities to ensure everyone is reflected in the media. In 2023, it will become even more important that brands shift their corporate cultures to spotlight inclusivity and fair representation.
- Live commerce
Influencers will continue to contribute to the rising demand for live shopping using live video and interactive content. With TikTok Shop preparing a US launch late last year, it is expected that the format will continue throughout 2023 with help from creators in western markets.
- Short-form video increasing in popularity
Who better to turn to for short-form video than creators? Masters of their craft across YouTube, TikTok, Reels and more – creators are constantly finding new ways to engage audiences in 60 seconds or less.
Brands are beginning to realize the value of centralizing their influencer efforts across different platforms, teams and territories to avoid wastage and inefficiencies.
Leveraging a centralized measurement framework and dataset also helps teams to develop and analyze their learnings.
Creators have taken it upon themselves to start the ‘deinfluencing’ movement’ which encourages users to think before they buy, offering audiences an insight into the products not to buy. TikTokers have identified this as a means to tackle frugality online.
Predictions for the future of influencer marketing
The likes of AR, VR and the metaverse have been tipped to shape the future of influencer marketing, but what else should we keep an eye out for?
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Brands have already shown a keen interest in AR and VR technologies. These two developments would enable closer connections between influencer and consumer. AR and VR is also providing a new opportunity for immersive experiences that engage consumers over throwing products at them through sponsored posts.
Expect AI to appear more frequently through influencer marketing throughout 2023 and beyond. AI tools will enable marketers to find the right influencers by processing mass amounts of data that would normally take hours to skim through.
AI will enable influencer characters and personalities to come to light, helping to determine which creators best suit a particular brand. Machine learning is expected to conduct deep analysis on social media to identify social media influencers. AI algorithms are already dictating the content we see online, it is only a matter of time before it evolves to assume a larger stake in the market.
How brands can stay ahead of the trends (and competition)
Brands looking to diversify their marketing efforts through influencers should make a conscious effort to stay in the loop, and keep on top of current trends.
Some of the most immediate ways to do this include following and consuming influencer content; if there are new developments in the industry, creators are the first to know, since it’s their playground. Keeping an eye on industry leaders, competitors and other outlets within your niche is another great way to understand what’s happening and what’s to come.
You can also sign up to newsletters to get real-time updates and the latest developments around the industry. What better place to start than Goat’s anti-trends report compiling industry news each week.
Our favorite influencer marketing examples
Audi approached Goat to help them increase awareness, desirability and test drive numbers for their Q range SUVs.We devised a creative brief in which influencers shared a certain unique passion point or aspect of their life, and then aligned this organically with their model of choice. This could be anything from cooking or parenthood, to entrepreneurship and even snowboarding!
Our nine influencers created content across Instagram Posts, Stories, Instagram TV, and really showed how the car fits in with their lifestyle in a way that felt natural and relatable to their audiences.
We combined this organic influencer content with a targeted paid social strategy. This featured a clear call to action encouraging viewers to click-through to Audi’s virtual assistant messenger, where they could easily arrange test drives.
We drove an incredible 8.3 million impressions and 39,000 clicks! Most importantly, we drove 536 customer referrals for Audi.
We were tasked to raise awareness of Starbucks delivery through the Uber Eats app and to drive conversations around their #RedCupReason for gifting and sending a coffee to a special person before Christmas.
We created an Instagram strategy that drove these key performance indicators through a promotional discount code, as well as using influencers to encourage users to share their own reasons for sending a coffee.
From our consumer research, we knew that influencers from the lifestyle and pop-culture verticals would be the most effective in driving these KPIs.
We selected Macro and Hero influencers with following sizes of 250,000 or more, with Celebrity talent included. Overall, the campaign drove brand sentiment and conversation around the #RedCupReason, as well as boosted awareness and engagement with the discount code.
The campaign received 5.4M impressions in total, over 2,000 code redemptions using our designated influencer code, and over 2.7M Instagram Story views raising awareness of the #RedCupReason activation.
Why Brands Should Consider Influencer Marketing in 2023
Leveraging influencers for social media content could become the most powerful marketing tool this year.
Influencer marketing can drive brand growth across the entire purchasing funnel, through authentic and hyper-engaged content that often adopts a multichannel approach.
Influencer marketing is perhaps the most performance, results-driven method for brands to reach and engage with their target audience in the modern day. With the sector delivering an average ROI of 5 euros per 1 euro spent, it’s difficult to argue against investment in an influencer-led campaign.
For more on influencer marketing and how you can get started, visit our services page.
Influencer marketing FAQs:
Can The Goat Agency help with influencer marketing?
Absolutely, The Goat Agency was born from influencer marketing, and has been developing global, award-winning influencer campaigns for the last 8 years!
Why is influencer marketing so powerful?
Influencer marketing is so powerful because it leverages creators that have spent time cultivating their audience, gaining their trust and perfecting their craft. This allows brands to tap into targeted audiences, authentically, building their brand credibility and maximizing their ROI.
Why is influencer marketing important?
Influencer marketing drives growth across the entire purchase decision journey. Making it the most powerful marketing tool in 2023.