The impact of influencer marketing campaigns reached an all-time high in 2019 and shows no signs of slowing down in 2020. Forbes has reported that influencer marketing spend continued to rise in 2019, as did its percentage of the total marketing budget in many industries. 

With budgets dedicated to influencer marketing said to have increased by up to 65% in 2019, it’s no surprise that the industry continues to rapidly grow. In fact, influencer marketing is projected to be a $5-10 billion dollar industry this year with some reports estimating that it could grow to $15 billion by 2022.

What can brands and marketers expect from influencers in 2020? How can businesses leverage new content strategies and evolving social media channels? 

Here are our thoughts on the top trends that will dominate influencer programs in 2020:

Trend #1:  Video content will still be king!

The biggest influencer marketing trend in 2020 will be the continued rise in video content across all social channels.  Multiple studies have proven that video is the most effective driver of sales when compared to static content in influencer campaigns.

Whether it’s on Instagram Stories, IGTV, TikTok, YouTube, or Snapchat, it will not be difficult to find the right video stars and personalities for your brand. 

You’ll also find that live streaming video, such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live and most recently TikTok Live all continue to rise in popularity. 

We see video as continuing to rise and be an integral part of influencer campaigns. It provides opportunity for more creativity and collaboration with brands. And for those with a heavy investment in Instagram, video content on IGTV should be considered as a great way for influencers to engage their communities on a deeper level and provide  more value.  

Brands will also need to look at video campaigns on the fast-rising, short-form video platform, TikTok. Gen Z users are downloading and consuming content on the app faster than any other social media platform.

Trend #2:  Continued rise of TikTok

As we highlighted a few months ago, 2019 was a breakthrough year for TikTok which saw it continue to be the #1 downloaded app. As a result, many marketers have started paying attention – either creating a brand account or exploring strategies to work with TikTokers.

At this time, TikTok skews to a younger audience but it’s evolving and has the potential to reach a lot more people than just Gen Z.  

On TikTok, as compared to other platforms, anyone can be an influencer.  This is in comparison to other platforms where there is a clear distinction on who may wield the most influence when looking solely at the number of followers (albeit not an effective way to judge influence).  

TikTok’s algorithm amplifies the most creative type of content without regards to the influencers follower base. For example, a creator can easily jump 500 to 50,000 followers in a short time period because they’ve developed consistent compelling content that is then shown to more people.

TikTok’s content is discoverable primarily through hashtags, which allows people to follow the hashtag story. This differs from other social platforms whose content is primarily siloed.

Since this is a new platform, many marketers are hesitant to jump in but we’re inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk who suggests that marketers think of all these platforms like channels and don’t get hung up on whether or not they have longevity. Because even if they disappear, you can take advantage of them now, the loyalty you receive will not go away even if the channel does.

Trend #3 – Proliferation of bite size content

With the proliferation of content on so many platforms, we see consumers wanting “bite-size” content that they can quickly consume and share.  Brands are going to have to get creative and find ways to integrate their messages in just a few seconds.

For this reason, we continue to recommend adding Instagram Stories (and now Facebook and YouTube Stories) as well as TikTok videos as part of an influencer campaign.

Trend #4:  Third parties that detect false followers

The focus for influencers is no longer solely based on follower numbers. It’s based on engagement and authenticity. And for good reason. It’s estimated that fake fans will cost brands $1.3 billion in 2019 alone.

The challenge is assessing whether the follower counts and engagement rates are legitimate. As many have seen, both can be fabricated for a price. That’s why we’re looking at the continued rise and use of software, like Instascreener and Influencer Marketing Hub, to detect fake followers on platforms like Instagram, where the problem is rampant.

It’s no longer as easy as looking for jumps or spikes in follower counts. The services that offer fake followers are getting more sophisticated and detection needs to follow suit.

Trend #5:  The rise of the no-edit vibe

Authenticity is key, especially for the Gen Z audience. We are seeing influencers creating content that is more in the moment without heavy filtering or editing.

With the rise of Instagram, we saw the evolution of the curated content feed. Influencers created feeds that were polished and aesthetically pleasing, offering inspiration and aspiration to their audiences. 

We are starting to see a shift to a more in the moment, no edit vibe – audiences feel more engaged and a stronger connection and also part of the journey.

While we will see the “no-edit” edit influencer marketing trend continue and evolve, we will still have a lot of accounts that have a certain aesthetic and remain more curated. 

When working with influencers, it will all come down to brand persona and the message the brand is trying to convey when they decide on the type of influencer content they are looking for.

Trend #6: Captions that are longer (micro-blogging) that draw in audiences

When we think captions, we think Instagram. While it started solely as a visual platform, it’s evolved to become a micro-blogging, storytelling platform.  

Typically, a great image will capture an audience’s attention but the caption is where you convey the complete story and details you want to share. It’s also where you can share an appropriate call to action.

Keep in mind that Instagram, to maintain the visual aspect of the platform, will typically only show the first three lines before the user has to expend the caption. So that first sentence needs to be powerful enough to draw the audience in for the bigger picture.

Trend #7: Shoppable content and e-commerce opportunities 

A 2018 Influicity study predicted more influencers would be interested in creating their own branded products that complement their online personality and niche. “With their reach and authority growing at an accelerated rate, influencers will start to explore new avenues of revenue generation, primarily e-commerce.” 

New features like shopping on Instagram, buyable Pins on Pinterest, collections ads on Facebook, and shoppable videos on TikTok make it possible for influencers and brands to drive purchases directly from a social media post. In 2017, Amazon rolled out a new program called Amazon Spark that enables customers to follow influencers and, with one tap, purchase the item that they saw on the app.

The growth and expansion of these e-commerce tools in 2019 allowed brands to leverage more specific calls-to-action to purchase in influencer campaigns and experiment with different programs. It also made it easier than ever before for customers to directly purchase products shown in influencer content and for brands to determine campaign successes through solid KPIs like foot traffic, e-commerce sales, and subscriptions.

We see e-commerce being closely tied to influencer relationships as brands consider developing hybrid compensation models for some of their product campaigns.

We’d love to hear which trends you’re incorporating into your influencer marketing strategy this year. Let us help make the most of your influencer campaigns in 2020. To request a proposal, contact Paula Bruno