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Top Influencer Marketing Trends That You Need to Know in 2021


Amidst the explosion of social media users in the modern generation, influencers or “Key Opinion Leaders” have become a common social media marketing strategy adopted by many globally. If you are searching for the best way to collaborate with influencers in 2021 with data-backed top influencer marketing trends, this is the right place for you!

This article will analyze the statistical data provided by Klear from their database of influencer campaigns, plus a survey of over 5,000 influencers across the leading social networks in 2020. Klear is a Meltwater-powered influencer marketing platform, aka the big data search engine for influencers, widely used to identify, onboard, and manage influencers for many different campaigns.

Read on to discover the key data-driven takeaways and influencer predictions going into 2021.

Finding #1: The Global Reach of Influencer Marketing has significantly increased

According to Klear, influencer marketing’s value has grown significantly, despite the number of sponsored collaborations declined in 2020 due to the brand’s halt marketing budget. In 2020, Influencer collaborations gained 57% growth in reach and impact in average impressions per post. Another research has also shown that influencer marketing delivers 11 times greater return on investment than traditional types of marketing.

💡 2021 Influencers Prediction: The continued rise of micro and nano-influencers

Micro and nano-influencers are foreseen to be one of the top influencer marketing trends. It has been quite a while since the market talked about influencers’ promotional content fatigue. We can observe that there is a shift from macro to micro-influencers from the latest social media trend. In turn, brands will also want to specialize, which means tapping into micro-influencers who can cater to specific niches and market segments, instead of investing in big influencers with low engagement. As brands emerge into new markets and target new audiences in 2021, influencer marketing will surely serve as a great tool to establish a high reach.

🚀Check out our case study on leveraging influencer marketing to increase brand awareness in China.

Finding #2: Influencers created more sponsored stories in 2020

According to findings, there is a sharp increase in the volume of Instagram Sponsored Stories, aligning with the massive popularity gained in stories usage. In 2020, influencers created an average of 38 sponsored stories per week – a 32% increase from 2019. With the Covid-19 pandemic and global lockdowns, influencers’ stories have been an alternative method to show how they use different brands.

We also observe an increase in sponsored collaborations in the fashion, fitness, photography, lifestyle, and beauty industry. On the other hand, travel and food have seen a sharp decline. Travel & food brands have had to adapt their social media messages and contents considering the impact of Covid-19.

Example: Instagram travel influencer @roamaroo

“As travel experts, we’ve adapted our content to focus on socially distanced travel – road trips, camping, the Great Outdoors, and anything self-sustainable. Due to the pandemic, we moved into an Airstream for the foreseeable future. As travel creators, we have a responsibility and opportunity to help educate and inform the world on how to safely and respectfully travel (or not travel at certain times).”

💡 2021 Influencers Prediction: More ongoing brand partnerships
  • As brands become more selective with who they collaborate with in 2021, it is predicted that even influencers will also be more purposeful with who they choose to endorse.
  • Influencers will become true brand partners, brands may invest to form more ongoing partnerships and build long-term relationships with influencers to engage in series, multiple stories, and post collaborations.
  • Brands-influencers partnerships are getting more and more organized. Brands are structuring their influencer strategies activating & segmenting influencers per category and objective.
  • Structured Influencer management relationship program are often implemented by brands to activate a specific groups of influencers (Creative, High engagement, Sales-driven, etc…) with the targeted campaigns at specific key period to support well-defined KPIs.

🚀Check out our case study on leveraging influencer video marketing to boost exposure in a new market.

Finding #3: In 2020, brand values mattered more than ever

Social media is used as a platform to express personal opinions and exchange viewpoints. In 2020, social movements were widely discussed across various social media platforms. For instance, the #BlackLivesMatter movement in 2020 stimulated heated political discussion among people and public figures worldwide.

In 2020, influencers and brands took a step back from perfectly curated feeds to get a little more “real” with their followers.  The #BlackLivesMatter movement was unlike no other – no statement was a huge statement. According to Klear, 80% of brands have made a statement supporting #BlackLivesMatter, and the remaining did not make any statement.

Example: Nike expressed statement on Instagram

💡 2021 Influencers Prediction: More value-driven content

We are going to see a new level of authenticity and storytelling.

  • Brands: as modern shoppers are more purpose-driven, they tend to purchase with brands that align with their values, for instance, companies that show care during the pandemic, demonstrate sustainability or eco-friendliness values, especially for the Gen Z and millennials consumer segment.
  • Influencers: With a continued push toward driving deeper connections and relationships, influencers have also begun creating more value-driven content and are giving their audience a real glimpse into their lives from a personal angle.

Finding #4: TikTok sponsorship activity exceeded the double growth rate

TikTok, the popular social media app that allows users to watch, create, and share 15-second videos on mobile phones, is characterized by its addictive quality and high engagement levels, hence greatly contribute to the top influencer market trends. 2020 has seen the rise of TikTok usage amongst individuals of all ages, especially amongst Gen Z.  According to Klear, the number of TikTok sponsorships dramatically increased by 130% from 2019 to 2020. Per 1 sponsorship TikTok creators participated in 2019, they created 2.3 sponsorships in 2020.

Heard of how the strawberry dress took over TikTok and became the app’s hottest summer item? A big part of the garment’s success comes from influencer marketing on TikTok riding the pandemic escapism, where TikTokers unboxing the dress, doing popular DIYs, gleefully wearing, or simply fawning over the fashion piece.

On TikTok, the #strawberrydress hashtag has over 7.3 million views. In one video with over 1 million likes, the TikTok influencer @mailleur_maker waits at the door for the dress package, calling out, “Where are you, my little strawberry dream?”

💡 2021 Influencers Prediction: Brands to create new voices on TikTok

It is no secret that video production is the latest craze; whoever is not tapping into that channel is already behind the curve. Many brands have established a TikTok presence over the past months as it is the perfect channel to invest in influencers who use video. Comparing to traditional marketing channels, the concisely personalized video content creates a more casual and lighthearted tone of voice for informal brand promotion. Last but not least, Gen Z loves TikTok.

🚀Explore how to identify the right TikTok influencer via TikTok Creator Marketplace with our top TikTok tips!

Finding #5: Gen Z influencers’ popularity soars

Gen Z influencers, aged between 18-24, are the first generation to grow up immersed in technology, and so they are remarkably digital native, hyperconnected, and informed. In 2020, sponsored posts with Gen Z influencers had increased by 9%. They are the only age demographic to grow in 2020, who made up 34% of sponsored posts, and the tremendous increase was observed on TikTok.

According to Klear, Gen Z are the highest-earning demographic and the demographic most in demand across all platforms as one of the top influencer marketing trends.

Addison Rae, one of Tiktok’s top fashion and beauty influencers who earned $5 million last year (54.3 million followers and counting!). She began by sharing viral dance routines videos, and is evidently riding high on the success TikTok has brought her — Forbes just announced the top seven earners from last year and named the 20-year-old in the coveted number one spot.

Example: Two highest-paid TikTok Gen Z influencers in 2020

💡 2021 Influencers Prediction: Gen Z influencers to be an integral part of brand strategy

Gen Z is joining the workforce, which means that they are gaining spending power. To tap into this rising consumer segment, it is expected that more and more brands will not only have Gen Z influencers on their radar, but will be an integral part of their strategy to create authentic, engaging, and edgy campaigns as one of the top influencer marketing trends.

🚀Discover our influencer marketing case studies on various social media platforms to achieve targeted marketing goals.

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