Wondering what big influencer marketing trends are coming in 2021?
Influencers continue to be a hot topic on social media, and by the looks of it, you can expect to keep seeing more #sponsored posts flooding your feeds.
Ready to learn what the future has in store? We’ve rounded up predictions and top influencer marketing trends in 2021, according to social media experts:
Influencer Marketing Will Be Bigger Than Ever in 2021
Influencer marketing is on track to become a $15 billion dollar industry by 2022 and it shows no sign of slowing down.
In fact, 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.
“2021 is the year we believe influencer marketing will be seen as its own media channel outside of tactical ‘problem solving’ or ‘nice to have content’”, predicts Brandon Perlman, Founder and CEO of Social Studies, Inc.
With increased popularity, demand, and company spend for influencer marketing, it’s safe to say we can expect new and exciting things coming in the new year.
Ready to start building your influencer marketing strategy? Watch our free 30-minute Influencer Marketing 101 course with Gretta van Riel.
Influencer Marketing Trends in 2021
Video Content Will Remain King
A Focus on Diversity and Inclusion
The “No-Edit Edit” Will Evolve
Value Driven Content
More Ongoing Partnerships
A Focus on Micro and Nano Influencers
New Social Platforms and Creator Tools
New Forms of Influencer Media
#1: Video Content Will (Continue To) Be King
“The rise of video” continues to be an ongoing trend in the influencer marketing space. However, with the growing popularity of TikTok and the introduction of Instagram Reels, it’s expected to be more collaborative and creative than ever.
Instagram influencer Elizabeth Gilmore agrees, commenting: “Video first, always! I’ve found the more authentic, in the moment, and less ‘curated’ the better. It keeps viewers more engaged and a stronger authenticity makes people feel more human and part of the action.”
Social media strategist and content creator Christina Galbato told us she plans on adding more video into her Instagram strategy and encourages other influencers to do the same.
She also advised brands and influencers to “focus on your niche and create related video content on IGTV and Instagram Reels — it’s a great way to engage your community on a deeper level and provide a ton of value.”
#2: A Focus on Diversity and Inclusion
2020’s increase in social activism spotlighted a lack of diversity in influencer marketing and inequality faced by Black content creators.
With many brands being held accountable for tokenism or unfair pay, a lot of content creators were vocal about how there needs to be more representation in influencer marketing.
“Representation matters because it inspires and can change the way people see themselves, and how they see your brand,” says entrepreneur and content creator Sashagai Ruddock.
Instagram influencer Dorringon Reid agrees: “Representation in every creative industry is vital, but especially in content creation and influencer marketing because it can shift preconceived ideas.”
In 2021, we predict increased effort by brands to create more inclusive influencer marketing campaigns, but it won’t be enough to simply work with diverse influencers.
As Gen Z expert and PRZM co-founder, Larry Milstein, says: “It’s not enough to cast diversity and inclusion. It needs to be built into the fabric of the brand.”
The goal for 2021 should be to build diversity and inclusion into all aspects of your business — including influencer marketing — to create effective change and illustrate your brand’s values.
#3: The “No-Edit Edit” Aesthetic Will Evolve
Authenticity on social media is one of the most effective ways to build a digital community, and it’s translated over to Instagram aesthetic trends too!
In 2021, we predict an increase in bloggers and influencers using the #nofilter trend. With a focus on authenticity, they’ll apply subtle edits to their photos to create an “in-the-moment” and unedited look into their lives.
Instagram influencer Rohini Mauk, who has mastered the in-the-moment shot, predicts that “the days of a perfectly manicured feed are slowly dying out.”
“Although they are beautiful to look at and definitely have their place, I don’t think it’s necessary in order to grow,” added Mauk.
“In the beginning, everyone was forced to be super polished. Now, after some time has passed, people are finding their true voices on social,” explained Nichole.
Nichole believes we’ll see the no-edit edit influencer marketing trend evolve, but adds, “there will still be a lot of accounts who appreciate a certain aesthetic and will remain more polished. It comes down to what kind of message and emotion you are trying to convey.”
While Instagram is first and foremost a visual platform, pretty pictures are not nearly enough to succeed on the platform — strong call-to-actions (CTA), community engagement, and engaging captions will help influencers stand out.
#4: Deeper Connections and Value-Driven Content
In 2020, influencers and brands took a step back from perfectly curated feeds to get a little more “real” with their followers.
With a continued push toward driving deeper connections and relationships –- coming from users and Instagram themselves –- influencers have begun creating more value-driven content and are giving their audience a real glimpse into their lives.
“Now more than ever, people want to see your authentic self! I think providing some type of content that shows your real life personality is key to growing online these days,” shared Rohini.
She suggests doing Q&A’s, YouTube videos, sharing silly memes, or even showing off the “not so glamorous” sides of your life.
“People are starting to see through the perfection found online,” said Rohini.
Christina Galbato recommends businesses also take authenticity into account when searching for influencer partners — “don’t focus entirely on the numbers,” she warns.
Instead, Christina suggests looking at the comments the influencer receives on their posts and the way they connect with their audience on Instagram Stories.
“Quality engagement and tight-knit communities matter more when predicting ROI than high follower counts any day,” says Christina.
And Nichole Ciotti agrees. She recommends brands “think less about actual monetizing and more about creating content your followers care about. Authenticity is key. If you nail that, the money will come. Be patient and focus on producing quality content.”
#5: More Ongoing Partnerships vs. One-Offs
Influencers will become true brand partners in 2021, with brands investing in ongoing relationships over an extended period of time.
Manu Muraro, founder of Your Social Team says one-off influencer posts or stories aren’t enough to bring results to most brands — “it takes 6 to 8 touches to make a sale.”
Instead, Manu advises influencers to pitch ongoing partnerships to drive better results, and suggests they “move past the simple sponsored post or story and create a more unique way to join forces, like a signature line of products, for example.”
Elizabeth Gilmore believes this will help content feel more specific to the influencer promoting the product as well: “I think brands are really going to invest in long term relationships with influencers. Building trust and commitment is key!”
Nichole Ciotti adds, “I think brands will start looking for longer, more integrated partnerships. I can imagine a brand engaging an influencer on 10x posts across social channels over a burst of time.”
#6: Micro and Nano-Influencers Will Continue to Rise
Influencer marketing is a key strategy for promoting your business and products on Instagram, with micro-influencers (those with less than 100k followers) yielding great results for businesses!
According to our 2019 report with Fohr, micro-influencers have the highest engagement rates (averaging at 7%) on their feed posts!
In fact, influencers with <25K followers had higher engagement rates regardless of their genre, target audience, or topics.
As engagement rates on Instagram continue to decline, more and more businesses are seeing the value in partnering with Instagram influencers who have a small (or “micro”) but highly-engaged following.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting some businesses’ budgets in 2020, they may be more open to working with influencers in 2021 who have lower rates.
One of the biggest benefits of working with micro-influencers? They tend to retain higher levels of engagement than top-tier influencers.
And Christina Galbato agrees.
“Brands will increase their focus on working with micro-influencers as oftentimes their connection with their communities is much stronger.”
The rise of nano- and micro-influencers has only begun, and Manu predicts “in 2021 we’ll see a lot of brands and micro- or nano-influencers do their first sponsored post.”
“For aspiring influencers, my advice is to start small,” advises Manu.
“Start tagging local businesses you use and posting about them. If they see a little traction from your post or like your content, you may have better chances to work together.”
#7: New Social Platforms and Creator Tools
This year, new platforms and Instagram tools flooded the social scene giving influencers more creative sharing power than ever.
One of the most notable additions to the social platform line-up is the ever-growing, insanely popular app, TikTok.
Nichole Ciotti predicts TikTok will be the platform to talk about in 2021. She also believes brands will be investing more money with popular creators on the platform:
“The natural virality their interface affords is going to enable brands to multiply their marketing efforts for the same dollars, especially with micro influencers who produce amazing content, which has a high potential to get picked up by TikTok’s algorithm and go viral.”
Instagram influencers have already started taking the plunge into the new platform, for example Mik Zazon has already raked up over 800K followers with her on-brand TikTok content surrounding body positivity and self-love:
We also expect to see more innovative tools to help influencers create branded content.
For example, Instagram recently announced a slew of updates to its Branded Content capabilities.
These updates include a Branded Content tag launch on Instagram Reels, a new creation flow for Branded Content ads, and more. Instagram says these changes will “make it easier for creators and brands to create, share, and amplify branded content.”
2021 will be an exciting year for influencers to experiment with newer platforms, further monetize their content, and use different tools to tell their stories!
Influencer Marketing Trends #8: New (Highly-Shareable) Forms of Influencer Media
Finally, we predict brands and influencers will explore new forms of media and experiment with creative ways to capture their audience’s attention.
Brandon Perlman predicts we’ll see more data-driven analyses and infographics shared by brand advocates, consumers, and fans alike.
“A great example of this is what Spotify did with their ‘Year in Review’. They were brilliant, informative, personal, utility-driven, custom, shareable, and just slick. The integration within the Spotify app to Instagram Stories was just flawless.”
Nichole Ciotti predicts there will also be a rise of AI-driven influencer marketing platforms and partnerships.
This year, we’ve already begun to see CGI-influencers pop up on ours feeds, partnering with brands for the perfect #sponsored posts. The most notable digital influencer — Lil Miquela — has over 2.8M followers on Instagram:
Whether the demand comes from followers, brands, or new technological developments, influencers are pros at evolving to the new trends.
There’s no doubt we can expect to see exciting new things in the influencer space in 2021!
Have any influencer marketing trend predictions of your own this year? Let us know!
Want to level-up your influencer marketing strategy for 2021? Download our FREE Strategy Guide to learn how to increase your brand awareness, follower base, and drive major sales with influencers!