Let’s start with 2020. What would you say has been the most important change to influencer marketing for advertisers to be aware of this year?
The most important change to influencer marketing for advertisers in 2020 is that it has forced them to be aware of all the different forms in which they can work with creators across the various different platforms. A few years ago there was YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but now there are so many different ways marketers and advertisers can work, even simply on one platform. Take Instagram for example, they have Reels, IGTV, Stories, Instagram Videos, In-Feed Posts; it is very important that brands learn how to work across all of these new features on the different platforms and make the most out of the features within their social media marketing strategies. Also, now more than ever, advertisers are also looking to use paid media alongside their influencer marketing strategies, and using the content created by the creator within that paid media spend. So, it is super important that brands are able to have insight into all of these different forms of social media, and explore the power of paid media.
It was touch and go for a minute but 2020 saw TikTok cement itself as one of the key social media platforms in influencer marketing. How do you see this developing in 2021?
2020 really did see TikTok cement itself as one of the key social media platforms in social media marketing. I think the reason TikTok does so well is because of the amount of engagement; it encourages celebrities and hero creators to join the platform because they can build new audiences on there. It goes the same for brands, and I see a lot of brands doing a really good job of this. It’s going to be interesting to see how TikTok moves forward because of the regulations and how it has had to move away from China to be allowed to continue to work in the United States. Oracle’s investment into TikTok was super interesting and I will be fascinated to see how the platform continues to grow. I predict TikTok will begin making original content, which will be quite incredible because of the levels of creativity seen on the platform. You’ve seen it with Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for example. So, watch this space!
We couldn’t talk about 2020, without acknowledging the coronavirus outbreak. This has had a huge impact on influencer marketing already. What was its biggest impact would you say?
At first, there were so many campaigns that were underway that had to be paused or cancelled, so it had quite a strong effect on the industry initially. But then brands discovered that they could still work with creators very efficiently from home. This has actually helped speed up the transition from traditional advertising into more social media spend and influencer marketing, as brands start to notice the real rewards on ROI.
How do you see it translating into next year as well?
I think this new approach from brands will continue on and the ones who have learnt to start using social media marketing more effectively and creating content actually at a cheaper price are going to continue to want to do so in the future. Influencer’s GlobalWebIndex report found that the people who started using social media more often and following more creators will continue to do so going forward. So it's just really speeded up a lot of things in our space.
Which social media platform are you predicting will win in 2021, and why?
I think Instagram is going to continue to thrive in 2021 - they’ve launched Reels which is starting to pick up quite a bit as a competitor to TikTok. I’d also predict that TikTok will continue its growth. And Facebook is still massive, even though I think it is overlooked, but it still has the most users by far and therefore has great potential!
What brand do you feel really proved itself in 2020, and why?
Gymshark; they’ve absolutely smashed it across social media and also LinkedIn this year, which I think is fascinating as it is a platform that is underused by brands, even though LinkedIn has a very strong audience full of tastemakers, and I think the algorithm lends itself really well to growth, so it's something I think people should use more of, and that’s definitely where I’ve learnt a lot about GymShark’s success. Also, when they became a billion-dollar company, that drove a tonne of attention from that across social media, which was just fantastic. The founder Ben Francis also has a YouTube channel and he himself is a content creator as well, which is incredible.
And who are you excited to see more from next year?
In terms of brands, I’m excited to see a lot more of the direct to consumer startups really grow. There are companies like Wild, an eco-friendly deodorant brand. These Instagram-focused startups have built massive audiences on the platform and will continue to grow in the coming year. Obviously Dash Water as well; I’m a big fan and I hope all of these companies do extremely well!
We’re constantly seeing huge advances in influencer marketing data and technology. How can advertisers harness this most successfully?
There is a lot more technology out there in the influence marketing sector. At Influencer, we have invested a lot of money into building our platform and allowing brands to learn much more about the ROI, campaigns, and more accurately predict who they should be working with and why. I think when this industry began, it was a bit of a ‘wild west’, in that people worked with creators because they personally were fans of those creators, but now it's all about the audience and the return on investment and making sure you’re marketing to someone who has an audience in the right country, vertical and so on. This is a huge focus for us at Influencer, and we’ve made huge advancements in our technology this year; go check out our website to see how we can help you build meaningful relationships between your brand and the right creators!
We’ve just heard that Instagram will be cracking down further on paid partnership declarations. How else can the social media platforms work to improve the influencer marketing landscape?
I think it’s super important that creators are transparent when they are working with brands. I also think there are a number of ways these platforms can improve the influencer marketing landscape. One way could be to work more closely with creators when designing the algorithms; they are constantly changing and it's very difficult for the creators to understand what works when the next time algorithm updates, all of their strategies are no longer relevant. YouTube does this really well with their Creator Summits, organising for the engineers to speak directly with the creators to explain the algorithm process and listening to creator feedback on ways they can improve the platform.
How can advertisers work with creators to produce more impactful content?
There are a number of ways advertisers can work with creators to produce content with impact. I think 2021 will see advertisers working more closely with creators based on their content creation abilities and not necessarily focusing on the creators audience as the distribution but pairing their influencer marketing campaigns with a paid media strategy. This allows brands to focus on making the most impactful content possible. Influencer recently announced a commitment to securing clients a maximum return-on-ad spend by offering clients guaranteed business results - including guaranteed sales and guaranteed acquisitions, where our influencer marketing campaigns are paired with a paid media strategy. I think this is the future of impactful content and we’ll see much more of it in the future!