The Past, Present, and Future of the Influencer Marketing Landscape

Influencer Marketing Landscape

The past decade has served as one of immense growth for influencer marketing, establishing it as a must-have strategy for brands in their efforts to connect with their key audiences. And its appeal is set to last as more brands look to partner with influencers to demonstrate their authenticity. 

With the rise of social ecommerce, redistribution of advertising spend to influencer marketing from television and offline media, and increased adoption of ad-blocking software that thwarts traditional online ads, it is no surprise:

Influencer marketing is expected to generate $22.2 billion worldwide in 2025, up from $13.8 billion last year. 

US State of Influencer Marketing, HypeAuditor

Although, challenges do arise within influencer marketing as its landscape is constantly changing, making it difficult for brands, and even influencers themselves, to keep up with best practices. That makes now the perfect time to home in on what has worked, what hasn’t, and what the future of effective influencer campaigns looks like. 

The Future is Nano 

As we assess who made waves this past year, the reality was shocking to nonmarketers and marketers alike. This year, the world was less concerned with big names like The Rock and Selena Gomez – they fixated on micro-influencers and nano-influencers.

These influencers, with between 1,000 and 20,000 followers, have the ability to reach niche communities, serving as the optimal channel for brands to reach a specific subset of their audience. Not only can they connect with groups that ignore traditional marketing, but their engagement rates (ERs) are higher. In 2021, nano-influencers had an average ER of 4.6%, more than three times that of influencers with more than 20,000 followers.

The power of micro-influencers and nano-influencers has not escaped marketers and as brands seek to diversify their social media strategy and leverage high ERs in ongoing campaigns, we will see these influencer tiers gain even more popularity.

The Influence Marketing Industry Continues to Mature

Uniquely as well, data has shown that the average age of social media users crept up in the last year.

  • The percentage of users on Instagram between the ages of 25 and 34 rose by 4%, while the number of TikTok users aged 13 to 17 fell by 2%.
  • TikTok users between the ages of 18 and 24 made up the largest group of users on the platform, at 39% of all users.
  • Meanwhile, 70% of YouTube users were between 18 and 34 years old.

The dynamic of a maturing audience facing sobering realities was reflected in the subjects’ followers sought out. While users continued to flock to Instagram for Beyonce and the Kardashians, research shows that Finance & Economics, Health & Medicine, and Business & Careers were the categories that attracted the most new followers in 2021.

Increased Adoption, Innovation, and the Metaverse Will Take Influencer Marketing to the Next Level

The influencer marketing industry in 2022 is far more sophisticated than it was pre-pandemic, and stakeholders have taken notice. Influencers are now a major part of most marketers’ playbooks, and not just for the one-off projects that were common a couple of years ago. Brands are increasingly looking for ongoing partnerships with influencers.

Meanwhile, social media platforms are giving creators new tools and more ways to generate income. In 2021, Instagram added creator shops, new promotion deal frameworks, and improvements to the influencer marketplace to help brands connect with users. TikTok launched video tipping and virtual gifts, as well as live streaming capability. And YouTube unveiled the $100 million Shorts Fund as a way to incentivize influencers to create content for its answer to TikTok.

Finally, online shopping has experienced meteoric growth during the pandemic, but…

Social commerce is expected to grow three times as fast, to $1.2 trillion by 2025

Why Shopping’s Set for a Social Revolution, Accenture

Social media platforms are rolling out e-commerce integrations, like Instagram’s Drops and TikTok’s partnership with Shopify, to facilitate and capitalize on that windfall.

The last few years have proven social media influencers as a valuable resource, inevitably leading to an evolution that leaves the industry well-positioned for what comes next. That what comes next is likely to be the growth and adoption of augmented reality and the metaverse.

Taking influencer marketing from two dimensions to three will be the next big opportunity, as evidenced by Facebook’s strategy shift to focus on all things Meta. Make no mistake, it will also present plenty of challenges. Building and sharing immersive experiences will mean a big learning curve for virtual influencers. But given how the industry has come through the pandemic and the overwhelming force it’s becoming, we’re confident influencers are up to that challenge.

Download HypeAuditor’s US State of Influencer Marketing 2022 Report