Influencer marketing has firmly established itself in the marketing mix of many brands.

More and more brands are using influencers on Instagram, YouTube and Tiktok to broadcast their message to their target audience.

HypeAuditor (my company) analytics platform has identified six trends that will largely determine influencer marketing in 2021.

1. Brands shift ad spends towards influencer marketing

COVID-19 slowed the growth of influencer marketing, however, it didn’t suffer as much as other industries. The number of active users of social networks is growing rapidly. So is the amount of ad budgets that are being redirected from offline, as brands are looking for the most effective ways to share their message with their audiences online. Being one of the few viable ways brands can connect with audiences online, influencer marketing will continue to grow.

2. Performance-based influencer marketing is the future

Many brands used to rely on more predictable and reliable channels seeing influencer marketing as a tool for driving brand awareness. However, today more marketers have a better idea of how their money works and take the guesswork out of their influencer marketing strategy.
We expect influencer marketing budgets to increase significantly as more companies will work focusing on individual performance and ROI of influencers.

3. More brands will be using TikTok as a marketing platform

Brands approach TikTok carefully, due to its young audience, provocative content, and difficulties in choosing the right TikTokers. However, if the app won’t be banned in the USA, it will definitely continue to gain traction. TikTok shows record growth. We believe it will have 65 million monthly US users in 2021.

4. The popularity of micro-influencers will continue to grow

Small brands have always used micro-influencers. Big companies have, however, recently turned to micro-influencers too.
In 2020, 46.4% of brand mentions with #ad hashtag were made by Instagram accounts with 1,000-20,000 followers. We expect more businesses to start collaborating with micro-influencers with their share in payment placement growing to 50%, in terms of the number of paid posts.

5. Brands and influencers will be more attentive to content they post

During the pandemic, we have seen some cases when influencers were being shamed because of inappropriate behaviour and content. The audience has become more sensitive about content they consume. People now take more interest in the influencer’s personality, so creators have to carefully filter what they say. Brands, in turn, will approach the influencer selection process more carefully.

6. The importance and relevance of virtual influencers is on the rise

Digital characters are gaining popularity each year, especially in Asia. Their engagement rate remains high. As we analyzed virtual influencers on Instagram, we noticed that they have almost three times the engagement rate of real influencers. The virtual influencers trend continues to grow, as fictional characters play a big role in the discussions of diversity, eco-friendliness, and acceptance of technology.