As our society becomes increasingly digitised, social media has become even more integrated into our daily lives. Moreover, the online space birthed the flourishing influencer marketing industry, which has shown steady growth year-on-year. 

In fact, in 2021 the influencer industry was worth a whopping USD$13.8-billion. And for good reason — these social media personalities humanise brands, encourage engagement and boost brand visibility. 

But let's look to the future. What does 2022 hold for this lucrative space? 

media update's Taylor Goodman chats to Alessandro Bogliari, CEO of The Influencer Marketing Factory, about this shape-shifting industry here:  

What do you predict will be the biggest influencer marketing trends of 2022? 

Social commerce for sure! Social media is introducing a lot of new features that can help influencers and content creators make more money and diversify their revenue streams. 

One of the most interesting ones, in my opinion, is the possibility for influencers to sell items (either third-party products or their own) directly on social media and earn a fee (if using an affiliate link) or potentially sell more — thanks to a smoother purchase flow. 

Influencer marketing and social commerce together can open up to a better and faster way to sell in a win-win-win situation: A win for influencers that can earn more money and a win for the customers because they can buy in an easier and faster way. Additionally, it is also a win for brands because they can increase the conversion rate and decrease the cart abandonment rate.

There is a great deal of contention surrounding the relevance of influencer marketing, as consumers' desire for authenticity grows. Do you think influencer marketing is still relevant? Why or why not? 

It is still relevant, it's just always changing and adapting. A few years ago, it was acceptable to merely rely on vanity metrics and a polished type of content. Nowadays, on the one hand brands [are focused on] seeing a positive ROI. On the other hand, customers prefer seeing authentic and relatable content that doesn't necessarily need to be perfect. 

Influencers that can talk the same language of their followers, and have a strong bilateral communication with their community, are the ones that will always be able to influence others in doing something (buying a product, visiting a country, etc) — especially on a long-term approach.

Why do you think influencer marketing is effective? 

[It is effective] because it is a people business. Instead of cold banners or promotion efforts made by a celebrity [who] is distant from the majority of people, influencers are peers. 

[These influencers] share your values and sometimes your salary range. They, in a lot of cases, have an ordinary life and that opens up their daily life to their followers in an authentic and relatable way. 

Once that happens, a follower recognises in an influencer someone they can trust, and sometimes, almost a friendship connection between the parties.

As you listen to your friends and family when they suggest a new restaurant to try, users on social media trust their favourite influencers when it comes to a new TV show to watch, new pair of sneakers to buy or where to travel to!

How do you think influencer marketing has changed since the pandemic? What does this industry look like in a post-pandemic society?  

I think that [the industry] became even more popular, especially during times of lockdown. [Additionally, this space became] even more mainstream; just think about influencers being invited to the Met Gala event. 

People liked to see how influencers approached and talked about their struggles during the pandemic. [This made] users feel that they were not alone but actually in the same boat. This made, I think, influencers even more human and placed them on the same level of their followers. 

[Additionally,] because of the pandemic, more people spent time on their phones and the marketing spend shifted a lot from traditional media to social media. 

[Moreover,] brands started investing more in influencer marketing and that reflected in more promoted content, better brand deals and an overall interest increase in the industry. 

What should a brand consider when choosing an influencer to work with?  

First of all, avoiding vanity metrics, such as the number of followers; [this] is just a small indicator of their real influence. 

A brand should do a qualitative and quantitative analysis before closing a brand deal with an influencer. 

Check the [following]:
  • fake / real follower ratio
  • analyse the demographics of their followers (age, gender, location, etc.)
  • take a look at their latest posts (both organic and promoted), and
  • read the comments of the users as real, not-filtered feedback from their fan base. 
This is a good starting point before crafting an agreement and talking about pricing and deliverables.

Do you think that all brands should make use of influencer marketing? If not, which brands should steer clear of this marketing tactic? 

Our agency has worked with a lot of brands across several industries, from the most common ones for influencer marketing (such as beauty products and apps) to less common ones (such as banking and insurance companies).

I personally believe that every type of brand can use influencers, but it is all about the brand voice and positioning. You don't want to necessarily be "silly" on TikTok just because everyone is there — that could potentially harm your brand image that took years and years to [cement]. 

I'd say that a brand should consider a good balance between trusting influencers in making content that is native for social media and protecting their brand values, stakeholders and shareholders.
What influencer marketing trends do you predict in 2022? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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If you want to learn more about the latest happenings on the influencer scene, then be sure to read AI: Influencing virtually anything.