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5 ways influencer marketing is changing

Despite inflation continuing into the new year, we believe that influencer marketing will endure.

Why? Trust may have a little something to do with it.

“I think that marketers are smart to turn to creators in times of uncertainty because we know that’s when people are the most wary of advertising,” said Angela Seits, head of strategic planning and insights at PMG, during our virtual summit earlier this month. “Creators who have established trust are the right voices to turn to.”

As influencer marketing grows, there’s bound to be shifts in what works—and what doesn’t. Here are five ways that the industry has shifted this year, and what may be on tap in 2023.

1. Images don’t cut it anymore

Gone are the days when an influencer could offer up a single image and call it a day. Today’s social media audiences want more.

“There’s a shift from photos to videos, but also an aspect of being relatable,” said Jane Ko, social influencer and the blogger behind A Taste of Koko. “They want to hear what’s happening in my life, or they want to see that I’m on a trip, or if I’m renovating my house.”

2. Shrinking attention spans mean shorter videos

Gen Z loses active attention for ads after just 1.3 seconds, according to a study by Yahoo and OMD Worldwide.

With increasingly short attention spans comes a need for increasingly short (but attention-grabbing) videos.

“You have to really hit the CTA in the message before people swipe away from that sponsored video, whether it's organic or non-organic,” said Ko. “I’m seeing briefs now that actually say 15 to 20 [seconds], don’t go over 20.”

3. Influencer content is driving different behavior

As shoppable content has come into play, influencer marketing is moving further down the funnel.

“One of the strategies we’ll continue to explore in 2023 is driving users further down the funnel on unexpected platforms,” said Seits. For example, PMG’s client SurveyMonkey is using business influencers on TikTok (not usually a B2B marketing strategy) to complement product-first content on LinkedIn.

But if you’re looking for more down-funnel action, it’s important to understand your audience and which influencers are best for the job, said Joshua Carter, senior director of PR, social media, and influencer partnerships at Shutterfly.

“Knowing your audience and who you’re trying to reach really helps figure out what part of the funnel that influencer is in. I know which influencers can help us drive revenue, but then I also know that there [are influencers] who can get us the reach.”

4. Influencer/brand partnerships are lengthening

Ko has observed that instead of one-off campaigns, brands are interested in developing longer ambassadorships with influencers.

“It’s very exciting as a creator because that makes me produce content that’s going to look and perform so much better.”

Seits said PMG is structuring more of its partnerships to take place over the course of six months to a year.

Not only does a longer partnership enhance the content, but it also creates a better feedback loop, said Seits, which helps brands and influencers optimize campaigns.

One of the best reasons to develop long-term relationships with influencers is that it helps develop a real storytelling element to the content, said Carter.

“I always go back to, ‘Why are we doing this? What are the stories we want to tell? How do we bring the product to life in a new way?’”

5. Success is a moving target

Key performance indicators for influencer marketing continue to evolve, according to Carter.

“Obviously, for us as a brand that sells products, we’re looking at traffic to our site, new customer growth, revenue, all those kinds of things,” he said. “But it’s not just about the end product. We’re thinking about the overall engagement rate of an influencer before we work with them and really looking at audience segmentation.”

Why it matters: Spend on influencer marketing will grow 23.4% in 2023 to reach $6.16 billion.

Though it’s still a small percentage of total marketing spend, there’s plenty of room for growth, particularly among micro- (5,000 to 19,999 followers) and mid-tier (20,000 to 99,999 followers) influencers, who will make up over half of influencer spending next year.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.