The Future of Influencer Marketing 2021 By Ruta Fox , 2 weeks ago With an eye towards 2021, there’s seems to be no slowdown in influencer marketing, with the industry predicted to grow to $15 billion by 2022.* The Covid-19 crisis affected everyone, with marketers and brands immediately rejiggering to connect with consumers. Influencers provided a resilient and efficient avenue to connect, as many traditional modes of communication disappeared – sporting events, award shows, brand launch parties, music festivals, and in-person sampling all vanished. But what exactly is around the corner for influencer marketing? BabbleBoxx checked in with several sources for their input, ideas and predictions. Rachel Weingarten Brand & Marketing Strategist/Trend Analyst at Weingarten Media https://weingartenmedia.com “As to the future of influencer marketing, I think what most of us have missed is authenticity. The influencer arena isn’t that old and we went from working with individuals with great ideas and loyal followings to endless amounts of people trying to game the system. Additionally, we all suffered because of COVID, so we’ve also seen people who became frustrated with the tone-deaf celebrity and OG influencer culture. As a consumer culture, this doesn’t work for us anymore. We’ve seen our heroes stripped down and in their living rooms. I think an excellent analogy would be an acoustic version of a classic song. Think of earlier influencer culture as being a studio version of a song with auto-tune, full orchestra and endless edits. The 2021 influencer will be more like a classic singer alone on stage with their talent and a single instrument. We’re tired of being sold to. We still want connection, but we crave authenticity and we want purity. We want something real to connect to.” Evan Morgenstein C.E.O of The Digital Renegades www.thedigitalrenegades.com “The increased demand from consumers/followers on social media for video content has forced social platforms like You Tube and Instagram to create competitive assets to keep up with the explosive growth of TikTok. While being late to the game, Instagram especially with its product Reels, is making some significant headway as influencers are finding the algorithm on Reels to be very friendly, with their growth being substantially higher than on their main Instagram account. Aspects of social media have evolved from Twitter, to sending messages, to Instagram using photos and swipe-ups to TikTok, where creators can develop content and their own commercials. The next evolution will be the followers’ ability to interact commercially with a creator’s content. For example, if a food creator is showing you how to sear a steak, and how to create all kinds of side dishes, the viewer will be able to click on that content and immediately download a recipe and the ability to purchase products right away. That’s where social platforms have to be in order to survive. It’s important because it gives the follower the immediacy of experiencing in their own life what they just watched. Additionally, the influencer can now self-monetize whether they have corporate support or not. It’s the ultimate democratization of content.” Nikky Bracy, Social Media Supervisor at Planit https://planitagency.com/ “Given today’s emphasis on social justice, influencers are going to see an increased demand for sharing meaningful, life-enriching content—not just cute clothes and diet trends. Followers are being more discerning about who they follow, they’re considering the value influencers provide and they’re vocally holding influencers (and brands) to account for how they use their platform. Influencers are going to need to be more conscious of the brands they partner with and brands are going to need to focus on creating influencer campaigns that improve lives, not just sell products.” Brittany Hennessy Co-Founder Carbon August https://www.carbonaugust.com/ “We are entering the era of the Influencer /Founder. Influencers have spent years building a loyal community, establishing their expertise, and honing their virtual sales skills through affiliate links. It was only a matter of time before they realized they should be selling their own products.” 2020 saw the launch of Teni Panosian’s Monday Born skincare line and just this week Lindsay Silberman’s Hotel Lobby candle. Both of these were blockbuster hits and continue to sell out. COVID has shown influencers that while brand campaigns come and go, and budgets fluctuate, community loyalty is forever.” Anna Crowe Founder/C.E.O Crowe PR www.crowepr.com “With a change in flexibility since COVID, came a change in ways brands negotiate with influencers, giving them an equal say in budgets. Brands have tighter marketing budgets right now and are looking for high-level metrics. Plus, ROI is more important than ever, and many companies are cutting ties with influencers that aren’t performing.” Jared Hendler Founder Brand Content Agency www.brandcontentagency.com “Virtual worlds along with our virtual lives are expanding. Within those worlds, huge opportunities exist. Think virtual advertising, rewards, skins and avatars…virtual influence and virtual influencers are being built to populate these new spaces. There is also massive spillover from the virtual into the real world as virtual influencers and avatars grow their own social media following via Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Snapchat and TikTok. Combine this with ‘virtual’ press of them populating the real world and they are off to the races. The idea of creating or even following a ‘virtual’ influencer may emit an ‘eye-roll,’ but our ability to connect to a fictitious character online is no different than our ability to be moved by a popular character from our favorite animated feature. Additionally, categories like fashion have infinite opportunities in selling and promoting skins or virtual accessories while any brand can partner with or create their own influencers to populate these new worlds. In the end it is all about the ability for us to connect to the story being told.” Wonder what BabbleBoxx sees in the crystal ball for 2021? Our insiders predict influencers will embrace live selling, going beyond existing social platforms like Amazon Live, to create their own personalized apps and streaming channels as well as hosting exclusive virtual events. In addition to using Facebook or Instagram Live, influencers now can access streaming services where they can create their own branded platforms, allowing them to control and grow their distribution and sales. *(Business Insider Intelligence estimates based on Mediakix data).