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Moving at the speed of culture: 5 influencer marketing predictions for 2022

by Crystal Malachias

January 28, 2022

As the influencer industry further matures, becoming an essential marketing building block, 2021’s buzzword of authenticity isn’t going anywhere. Crystal Malachias (global growth and development director, ITB Worldwide) makes five predictions for 2022.

Trends will come and go quicker than we can say sea shanty. Social media is moving at the speed of culture, and marketers who start 2022 without an always-on mindset are going to be left in the dust.

There’s no better time to start thinking more creatively about how best to engage with culture and communities - but with so much happening in the social media and influencer marketing space, here are the five key trends to keep an eye on in 2022 and what you need to do about it.

1.) Video, video, video - the long and short of it

YouTube now has over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, with people watching over a billion hours of video every day. So while 2021 saw short-term video take hold - with Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts - there’s still a place for long-form and live streamed video content. With the continued shift toward video-led social content, fuelled largely by the ever-increasing growth of TikTok, which had higher levels of traffic than Google in 2021, brands who don’t use video as a core part of their strategy will be missing out.

A recent Ogilvy report found that brand video assets drive 11% higher conversion rates, and 2-3x higher click-through rates, than static content. As well as providing much needed entertainment and often comic relief in a time of anxiety and uncertainty, branded video content that takes consumers on a journey and provides them with an experience, will lead to consumers who are more likely to act.

2.) Multiple touch points - every screen, everywhere

As the evolving social media and entertainment landscape continues to fragment audiences across multiple platforms, it’s crucial for marketers to think more creatively about how to reach them - and diversify their strategies accordingly. A one size fits all or Instagram-only approach is no longer fit for purpose. Successful brands will create holistic brand experiences across a multiplicity of touchpoints, both on and offline.

With influencer marketing, digital-first is the rule of thumb - but it’s not the only strategy to consider. Full integration into the marketing mix is increasingly important, not only bringing influencers in earlier to the creative briefing process but identifying engaging ways to partner with them beyond social content, from developing products, to contracting influencers as consultants and creatives, to shaping in-real-life experiences and in-person collaborations.

As platforms introduce new tools and capabilities, it’s crucial to adapt, stay flexible and experiment so that you don’t get left behind. From artificial reality filters to try-on beauty products and clothes, to live shopping and social commerce, the future is increasingly in-app. So much so that Instagram reports over one in four teens and young adults are expecting to shop directly through their social media feed and special in-app features in 2022.

3.) Authentic and organic always wins the day

I’m sorry to say, but 2021’s buzzword, ‘authenticity’, isn’t going anywhere. Leveraging authentic influence and co-creating with influencers rather than simply inflating content and paying for endorsements is key to drawing audiences in and gaining consumer trust.

Authenticity and realness applies to both influencer selection and content formats. Instagram Stories continue to grow in engagement, hinting that there’s a continued desire for more unfiltered and candid content - supported by the ever-increasing growth and popularity of TikTok. Follower count is becoming increasingly less relevant as audiences and brands alike seek true brand advocates who engage and interact with their online communities.

And let’s not forget the importance of micro-influencers in the mix, especially amongst a younger cohort. After all, Instagram says one in four young people (13-24 year olds) agree micro influencers with loyal and highly engaged audiences are most important when creating new trends.

4.) Transactional arrangements out, always-on partnerships in

The modern consumer is already cynical about branded content that is obviously transactional and one-off #ad posts. Influencer marketing in this vein is increasingly ineffective. Coupled with the ongoing demand for authenticity, transparency and realness, we’ll see a growing shift toward long-term partnerships, brand ambassador programmes and advocacy-led activations, especially with micro-influencers.

These longer-term partnerships more effectively utilize influencers as co-creators and partners, with them serving as true brand advocates to gain consumer trust. This naturally drives brand awareness up, builds consideration and improves conversion rates and return on investment (ROI).

Adopting an always-on approach with long-term partners has additional benefits of ensuring top-of-mind awareness and brand recall, as well as allowing brands to be more reactive.

Culture and trends move at pace, so with long-term partners always-on, influencers can respond and create content in real-time ensuring brands are more organically inserted into the social conversation.

5.) Accountability - somebody’s gotta do it

As the influencer industry further matures, becoming an essential marketing building block, it’s only natural that there is increased demand for more accountability, measurement and regulation. For marketers this may likely mean an increased focus on performance-based influencer marketing and cost-per-thousand models to prove ROI, alongside a potential shift from engagement metrics to outcome-metrics.

As always, accountability is dependent on campaign and brand objectives and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Where shifting perception (rather than driving performance) is the goal, a content-led strategy is the best approach, assigning greater value to the quality of the content produced by an influencer (and the quality of the influencer themself) than the size of the audience the influencer has amassed.

Trade bodies will also become increasingly prominent in an important shift to provide unified governance around issues such as disclosure, equitable payment and transparent measurement, enabling the growth and protection of both talent and brands alike.


Social Media
Influencer marketing
Predictions 2022
trends 2022