Why Influencer Marketing Is Even More Relevant in 2021  

February 20, 2021

In the spring of 2020, as the world was forced to reconcile with the fast-emerging new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, brands and the agencies who represented them were thrown into a tailspin of understandable uncertainty. What would marketing look like in a post-pandemic world?

In 2020, despite some industry watchers to the contrary, influencer marketing not only survived, it thrived—growing into a global $10 billion industry. Due to changes in consumer behavior and society, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, influencer marketing reached a new level of importance last year. It’s a level that will continue into 2021, as influencer marketing is poised to become even more relevant in the months and years to come.

Why Influencer Marketing Works

Let’s start with the obvious — what is influencer marketing? And why is influencer marketing so successful? The answer, it turns out, has less to do with the influencers themselves and more to do with the state of consumers in 2021.

Simply put, people don’t trust conventional advertising as much as they used to. Approximately 30 percent of Internet users deploy ad blockers to stop the deluge of ads. Live TV ratings are down as viewers are more likely to DVR shows to skip ads, or watch on demand in an attempt to avoid ads entirely. In short, people are tired of seeing ads, and the ads that they do see are often irrelevant to the viewer and are tuned out altogether.

Enter influencer marketing. It’s so much more than simply sponsoring a celebrity or digital creator to feature or evaluate your product. Instead, it’s an impactful new channel that not only reaches your audience in new and creative ways but potentially a new channel that also exposes your brand to elusive new audiences entirely. To put the latter more precisely, influencers can become powerful third-party advocates that speak directly and authentically to their audiences on your behalf.

The numbers bear this line of thinking out. More than 40 percent of marketers believe that influencer marketing is their best strategy for generating ROI — with businesses earning as much as $6.50 for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. These figures are backed up by the changing tastes of consumers. Four out of ten Millennials believe they’re better understood by their favorite influencer than by their friends. Additionally, seven out of ten teenagers place more trust in influencers than in typical celebrities. It’s no longer the biggest celebrities that young decision-makers are listening to — instead, it’s more relatable influencers.

The Rise of Micro-Influencers

One of the best things about influencer marketing from an advertising perspective is how accessible it can be. You don’t need to target Charli D’Amelio — the Michael Jordan of influencing — to make an impact. Instead, it’s all about finding the right fit for your target market.

This is something that’s easier than you might think. It’s not just about large follower counts. In fact, the vast majority of marketers — 88 percent — would rather work with influencers that have less than 100,000 followers. What’s more, 35 percent of those marketers prefer to work with influencers followed by less than 10,000 people.

This trend of micro-influencers provides tremendous benefit to marketers. Influencers with lower follower counts are perceived as more relatable to their audiences. They’re also more affordable for marketers. The result is a campaign that costs less, but actually provides higher engagement rates than working with more notable influencers.

Of course, you may find that a larger influencer is more relevant to your brand, and you can absolutely go that route. No matter what your needs are, there’s an influencer out there that’s ready, willing and able to deliver great content to your desired demographic.

Enter TikTok

Although influencer marketing is most commonly associated with Instagram, it might not be the most effective platform for influencers anymore. Instead, brands are encouraged to look where young people are most likely to consume influencer content.

TikTok has come out of nowhere in recent years, becoming wildly popular with teens and tweens. However, TikTok’s most prominent demographic is young people aged 18 to 24 years old — the coveted Gen-Z demographic. Older users are joining the platform regularly as its popularity continues to rise. Best of all, engagement rates on TikTok blow away similar rates on Instagram.

Young people are increasingly looking toward influencers on TikTok for guidance and inspiration, and there are countless examples of regular people rising up to become influencers in their own right. As TikTok continues to grow, so too will its platform for influencer marketing. It’s something every marketer should be aware of as they plan their influencer strategy for 2021 and beyond.

The COVID-19 Factor

It’s not something that’s particularly fun to think about, but the reality is that COVID-19 has drastically overhauled the entire marketing landscape. That’s especially true when it comes to social media. The average U.S.-based social media user is spending at least an extra half-hour on social media due to the pandemic. This, in conjunction with stay-at-home orders and a general aversion to crowded stores, has shoppers valuing online marketing content and e-commerce more than ever before.

Needless to say, no marketer should use a global pandemic as a way to sell products. However, people find themselves scared, stressed and anxious. And because of the situation in which the world finds itself, people are more likely to be receptive to the right type of influencer message.

People don’t necessarily want to hear a typical sales pitch. But they do want to feel less alone and less powerless. They want to feel like they have a voice, and they want to feel like they’re contributing something to help — not just with the pandemic, but with any social cause that speaks to them. In that regard, influencer marketing can be highly effective. A well-aligned partnership between brand and influencer can help both to succeed, while also resolving legitimate customer pain points.

Although buying habits — and everything else — changed in 2020, influencer marketing remained a powerful force throughout the most turbulent year of our lifetimes. In 2021, influencer marketing will only grow to become more relevant. The combination of increased adoption of TikTok, changing buying and social media habits and the proliferation of micro-influencer marketing will see influencer marketing become a more immersive and effective strategy, both this year and in the future.

For more information and tips about how Commit Agency can help your brand can leverage influencer marketing effectively, reach out today.