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Pushing for purpose: 4 influencer marketing predictions for the second half of 2022
August 2, 2022
The influencer marketing industry continues to power brands forward at rapid pace, and platforms, audiences, and new trends are evolving faster than ever. Gen Z are setting the tone for our digital world as they call on brands to be accountable and are leading the charge in pushing for purpose from their peers, creators, and brands alike.
The creator economy isn’t going anywhere, and as we see 2023 approaching in the not-so-distant future, here are four key trend predictions for the influencer marketing landscape for the latter half of the year.
1.) Creators without a following are the next big thing
User generated content (UGC) – that is, any images, text, videos, reviews, etc. created by an individual user and not a brand – in marketing is nothing new; brands and marketers have understood the power of sharing content by “real people” for years now. It’s one of the key reasons influencer marketing is such a success. In its early days, many users were perfectly happy to extend permission to a brand to re-post their content on their feeds without any form of compensation.
Or worse, brands would take the liberty of re-posting public content without asking and extend a credit to the user only if they were lucky. But in 2022, users without a following are quickly beginning to recognize the sheer power and great need brands have for consistently new, high quality UGC. Users have begun to charge for custom content that meets brands’ needs, without even providing an audience.
There’s an emerging trend of brands engaging content creators with little to no online following to create organic-feeling, valuable content-for-hire to be posted exclusively on brand channels with no need for the creator to post to their own feed. Similarly, more and more brands engaging influencers are including brand-exclusive content usage (again, not to be posted on the influencers’ feeds) as part of traditional influencer marketing campaign deliverables in recognition of the need for a high volume of content.
The trend has taken off as a major topic of conversation on TikTok as of late, with over 9.6 million videos under the #usergeneratedcontent hashtag at the time of writing. Users are sharing their tips, tricks, and favorite UGC creator marketplaces with each other and are empowering those who never fancied themselves as traditional influencers to embrace the life of content creation as a means of generating income.
Expect this new wave of UGC to grow exponentially in the latter half of 2022 and for there to be a greater distinction between who is an “influencer” and who is a “content creator”. Both can coexist and flourish together, and some of the most powerful users for brands to engage with online really are both. Ultimately, anything that deepens the culture-wide conversation about brands needing to pay for content from digital creators is a very good thing.
2.) Wasteful gifting is ‘trashy’ and brands need to adjust their approach
We’re observing a major increase in online creators getting real about the ways PR gifting can negatively impact the environment. More than ever, creators are calling out PR companies and brands who send gifted products in excessive and non-recyclable packaging or send products they simply don’t need unannounced. In a video with more than 1 million views at the time of writing, TikToker @Nikoosh96 shared how she lives in a building with an influencer who receives a huge volume PR gifts that end up in their rubbish room constantly. Nikki and the commenters on her video discuss just how upsetting it is to see so many products on their way to a landfill, and how excessive influencer gifting, resulting in waste, should not be normalized.
In a now deleted video, TikTok user @bran_flakezz recently shared how a skincare brand reached out to him, offering to send him a bunch of products from their range. Recognizing that he already had a surplus of skincare products, he responded that he was grateful to them for reaching out but was not in need of skincare and it would be wasteful for them to send. He shared that he did need shampoo, and asked if they had any new hair care products he could test instead. The brand responded quickly and positively, sharing they were happy to send something he actually needed as to not contribute to waste – which resulted in positive sentiment for Brandon and the brand in the comments.
Brands should adjust their approach to gifting and make the extra effort it takes to connect with creators before sending mass mailers of items they might not want or use. Consideration for reducing waste goes a long way given our current climate (literally, and figuratively). In a study by Meta, 69% of global respondents believe that brands should care about the environment and provide sustainable living products for consumers.
There’s a delicate balance for influencers to strike – at the risk of appearing ‘ungrateful’ or tarnishing a relationship with a brand that could offer a lucrative deal in the future, it takes guts to publicize views about brands who are getting it wrong in 2022. Ultimately though, this new trend of influencers speaking up can effect change.
3.) A niche influencer is the new lifestyle influencer
In the second half of 2022, we expect the most successful influencers to rise from hyper-specific niches. We’ve had a taste of it already (consider the rapid catapult to fame of trainspotter Francis Bourgeois and the wild success of cleaning educators @GoCleanCo) and don’t see the trend going anywhere; we expect it to become the new norm. With more than 50 million people globally classified as content creators, influencers need to stand out amid a saturated market.
While creators can rise to fame based around a single topic, brands shouldn’t count them out if there isn’t an immediate obvious connection to their product. For example, London-based content creator Mesha Moinirad (otherwise known as @MrColitisCrohns) grew his community as an advocate for Ostomy & IBD patients and as an official ambassador of stoma bag supply company Coloplast Charter. Now, he also partners on sponsored content for brands like Paramount Plus UK, amongst many others.
Partnering with a niche influencer can allow brands to tap into highly engaged, new audiences centered around a niche community with broader interests as diverse as the world around us. Some rising niches we’re observing in the influencer world? Literature, comedy, disability advocacy, poetry & creative writing, and digital artists, just to name a few.
4.) Welcome to the metaverse
It’s impossible to go online without seeing chatter about the metaverse and Web 3.0 these days. In spite of consumer resistance or hesitancy, Pew Research Center explains how the metaverse will be “an evolutionary leap” in cyberspace as we know it. We believe influencers will be the ones to usher us into a new world online – and it’s already happening.
We expect to see a rise in collaborations between influencers and brands to release digital products, like co-branded NFTs offering audiences collectible content and exclusive artwork. Brands like Gucci, Kendra Scott, and Burger King have already dipped their toes in the NFT world as an extension of their marketing efforts, and we expect that to trickle into global brand influencer marketing initiatives too.
Visual artist Sophie Tea (who rose to fame and fortune exclusively thanks to her viral Instagram presence) made waves earlier this year when she sold out her first NFT – a scan of her own nude body – which was meant to be a digital extension of her body positive women’s empowerment physical art collection Nudies which brought her online fame.
Additionally, it seems like every social media and online messaging platform now offers users the ability to create their own avatars to represent their persona in a digital format. TikTok is one of the most recent platforms to do just this, and to ensure the feature is inclusive and representative of their community, are leaning on their Creator Diversity Collective (a cohort of creators “which brings people from different backgrounds together to help ensure diversity, inclusion, and representation in our programs and on [the] platform”).
We expect influencers and creators to guide their audiences into a more deeply digital universe and to be consulted by brands who feel the need to make the foray on a much larger scale in the second half of 2022 and beyond.