A New Decade of Influencer Marketing: Is It Effective in 2021?

Amelia Neate
Senior Manager
influencer marketing effective in 2021

Still one of the most popular trends in digital marketing, influencer marketing has taken centre stage for the last few years, if not the last decade, and it is only continuing to increase in popularity, and for good reason, too.

Social media influencers are quite simply leaders of the online world, with the ability to influence their audience and their consumer behaviour through creating fun, innovative and engaging content alongside brands.

It’s no secret that most businesses and industries have been impacted lately, and some worse than others. COVID-19 has seen many companies go bust, temporarily close or at a minimum, business and sales have completely slowed down.

It’s a truly scary time for everybody right now, and although the influencer marketing industry has been impacted quite directly and it may never be entirely the same again, the global pandemic has enabled the industry to go in a slightly different direction.

How COVID-19 has impacted the industry

It was a shock to everybody when the entire country went on lockdown back in March, however only a handful of things remained safe and consistent, including social media.

Social media as a whole wasn’t negatively impacted by the pandemic, if anything, it became much more widely used.

Keeping home-schooled teenagers and furloughed workers connected and providing them with a source of entertainment during such difficult and unprecedented times, social media became almost relied upon.

And influencers saw the need to create content for those that needed it. They adapted and changed to keep their audiences entertained and provided them with a form of escapism from the worrying reality that we were all experiencing.

Social media apps also had a huge surge in downloads during the pandemic, and in particular, TikTok. So much so, that it broke a huge record, with 315 million downloads within the first-quarter of the year – the most downloads an app has ever had in a single quarter.

TikTok stats
Image source: Business Insider

With more people spending time at home, either as teenagers or as part of the government’s furlough scheme, they had more free time than usual to spend online, watching YouTube videos or scrolling through Instagram and Facebook.

And because of this, brands and influencers alike were able to keep the influencer marketing industry alive and kicking.

Changes to influencer marketing

For consumers, influencer marketing will remain relatively the same, if not more focused and tailored than before.

Influencers have been able to adapt and continue to create innovative content for their audience, using the facilities they have at home or making use of those that are more local to them without having to venture too far out. Many influencers curate their content at home anyway, so haven’t been too disrupted by the pandemic. And as a result, they have merely altered their content to be appropriate for their audience by focusing on fitness, cooking and life and wellness.

food influencer

With the main hub of influencer marketing taking part in the country’s capital, this is where some of the changes may come in. With many wanting to avoid public transport, or use it as little as possible right now, travelling to London on a regular occasion may not be something that everyone is comfortable with just yet – understandably.

However, despite this, brands have recognised this as a hurdle and have successfully created a number of ways to continue without the need to travel.

Many influencers and brands are used to attending press events, days out or even overseas trips to celebrate the launch of a new product or service. Now, the industry has understood that these things aren’t going to happen for the foreseeable future and potentially longer, so have created a simple solution.

Just like office workers are having their weekly meetings over Zoom, brands and influencers can now attend launch days and press events virtually. Instead of handing out invites and hiring venues, brands are hosting it all online.

Not only does this help keep the influencer marketing industry going, but it is making the entire process much more accessible for everybody involved. Previously, influencers may not have been able to travel to attend an event due to other commitments or living too far away. Now, everybody can ‘attend’, regardless of postcode or schedule.

A great example of the influencer marketing industry adapting to the current climate, is a recent campaign we were a part of with Vodafone. What was originally supposed to take place in a number of cities throughout the UK, Vodafone worked with high-profile influencers to celebrate the launch of 5G via a virtual game instead. The campaign was a huge success with a combined reach of over 3.2 million, proving just how effective virtual events and campaigns can be.

Em Sheldon Vodafone campaign
Em Sheldon for Vodafone. Image source: Instagram

Influencer Marketing Effectiveness

Over the last six months, there has been an increase in popularity for a number of categories within influencer marketing.

With people spending more time at home, they have a bit more time on their hands than usual. This means they have been able to do things that they wouldn’t normally. Because of this, online content in areas such as meditation and wellness, health and fitness, gaming and cooking have continued to rise in popularity. Research carried out by Kantar shows that social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram saw a 40%+ increase in usage from people aged 18-34.

The influencer marketing industry is proving more effective than ever before as it is tapping into the needs of consumers and adapting content to suit the current times, which is something a lot of other markets and industries are currently unable to do.

Although a terribly tough time for many, the recent pandemic has shifted consumer habits and behaviours as well as increasing average screen times and allowing consumers to truly connect with their favourite influencers.

During lockdown, we all saw the influx of Instagram Live’s, days documented through stories and now, Reels. There are so many ways in which influencers are able to share their content and reach their audience. The options are almost endless, which is one of the many reasons influencer marketing is so effective and relevant.

A New Decade of Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is more popular than ever right now, and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Although the industry has had to make a few changes, it is most definitely well-equipped for the future and the continuous developments and changes that are likely to come with it.

We are about to enter a brand-new decade of influencer marketing, and an exciting and positive one at that.

Although things may be online and there may be more virtual events than before, the influencer marketing industry is here to stay and here at Influencer Matchmaker HQ, we can’t wait to see what’s to come.

What are your thoughts on influencer marketing in 2020?

To find out how Influencer Matchmaker can help you with finding the perfect influencer that not only represents your brand and product but also has access to the right audience, contact us today.