Top influencer marketing trends for 2023
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Welcome to 2023. A new year means it’s time to sit down and evaluate your influencer marketing campaign results, set new goals, and create a new strategy for the upcoming year.
Traackr’s 2022 Influencer Marketing Report found that 54% of marketers successfully increased brand awareness with influencer marketing, and 82% said it impacted sales growth.
Influencer marketing is hotter than ever, and now is the perfect time to review trends and fine-tune your strategy for 2023.
I spent the past month interviewing creator marketing experts to find out what trends are on the rise for 2023. Here’s what the best marketers said.
1. Whitelisting will continue to be the name of the influencer marketing game in 2023
Brands that put whitelisted ads at the front and center of their social media campaigns have seen incredible results.
“We have been running influencer whitelisting on Facebook and Instagram for many brands and have consistently seen influencer whitelisting outperform advertising through their own brand page,” says Alexander Pauwelyn, founder of Optimized.
“Especially during Q4 when CPMs are at a peak, we have seen influencer whitelisting reduce CPMs and CPCs drastically and even cut CPAs in half in some cases.”
Recent influencer marketing stats support Pauwelyn’s claims. Lumanu reports that influencer whitelisting outperforms traditional social media ads by 20-50% across consumer categories.
Collectively reports similar results with whitelisting across Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Whitelisted ads resulted in 26% higher Reels engagement, 1.5 times stronger Reels viewership, 21.9% Higher TikTok engagement rates, and 20.8% higher TikTok view rates.
Whitelisting on its own is a strategic move for any brand in 2023, but boosting organic influencer content and investing in paid media amplification will help you get more bang for your advertising buck.
“In 2023, it will become a must to mix organic influencer videos with paid amplification (e.g., TikTok Spark Ads or YouTube Ads). Boosting organic content allows a company to maximize its reach, and using an influencer account as an ambassador is better than boosting a video from a corporate account,” says Alessandro Bogliari, CEO & co-founder of The Influencer Marketing Factory.
Alexander adds, “You can extend this process even further to your landing pages. Create landing pages dedicated to the influencers you’re running whitelisting through. The landing pages will be built up with visuals and videos of the specific influencer, making the correlation between your ads and landing pages even stronger.”
Worried a robust whitelisting strategy and influencer partnerships won't work for your business?
It will. Traackr found 70% of consumers are more likely to buy a product from a brand if they work with an influencer they know and trust. And 59% of consumers said they look to influencers for product recommendations.
If you’re looking to capture more customers this year, now is the time to start with influencer whitelisting.
2. Nurture organic partnerships with creators
Today’s audiences consume more than 13 hours of online content every day. As a result, consumers recognize paid ads in the blink of an eye and can tell when a product promotion is purely transactional.
“Each year, consumers become increasingly familiar with the world of influencer marketing, and their ability to recognize inauthentic ads is heightened, which can lead to influencer campaigns falling flat,” says Emma Lenhart, agency founder at Avira Media.
“There is a shift to working with influencers who have mastered the art of raw, unfiltered, and in-the-moment content for their followers.”
With this in mind, it’s essential to nurture organic relationships with partners who either already use your products or will use them.
“Paying random influencers to promote your product does not work anymore. Brands should find influencers who use their products, like their brand, and are willing to recommend them to their followers,” says Marelle Ellen, CMO of Promoty.
While this approach requires extensive research and outreach, stats show that going the extra mile will pay off from a consumer point of view.
Storytap’s 2022 Influencer Consumer Trust Report shows that 88.2% of consumers find real customer reviews more authentic. And 70% of consumers say they are bothered when that creator lacks transparency about a sponsored post, according to Grin.
3. Take an everyday approach to content creation
What worked in advertising a few years ago is significantly different from what will work in 2023. Brands used to see results from highly produced, million-dollar, long-form ads on platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Think Squatty Potty (which is a great ad).
Now, word-of-mouth recommendations and highly-personable content made by everyday users are what sells. What’s more, influencer marketing (minus traditional celebrity endorsements) wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now.
Statista shows that since 2016, the global influencer marketing industry has grown from $1.7 billion to $16.4 billion in 2022, nearly doubling from 2019 to 2022.
With the growth of influencer marketing over the past few years and the rise of TikTok, we’ve seen a shift in the type of content and ads that perform well.
If you look at TikTok’s top-performing ads of 2022, you’ll see the leaders have one thing in common: an everyday and natural approach to content creation. In other words, the content looks like an authentic, raw home video from a popular creator.
“We are used to seeing influencers with picture-perfect lives on the internet (e.g., Instagram), but showing more of their everyday lives and behind the scenes is amassing a huge following. More brands will continue to work with influencers producing authentic and relatable content in years to come,” says Nunzio Ross, CEO and founder of Majesty Coffee.
Stats support this idea as 46% of consumers prefer to follow creators who look and act like “everyday people,” according to the Grin Report.
Emma Lenhart agrees, “These savvy influencers typically have higher than average engagement rates as well, as their followers feel like they are being let in on an influencer’s real daily life. Brands can leverage this trend by carefully vetting influencers and influencer content to make sure it’s the right fit for their campaign prior to contracting, and also prioritizing influence metrics like engagement rate over other vanity metrics such as follower size.”
4. Nurturing long-term relationships with creators will be a winning strategy
“For companies to be successful in 2023 they need to focus on developing long-term relationships with the influencers that they work with. So often brands focus on one-off transactional relationships and that won't make strategic sense as this industry continues to grow,” says Justin Levy, director of social & influencer marketing at DemandBase.
When you look at influencer marketing data, it makes sense why long-term relationships are required for long-term success.
Collectively found that 60% of repeat influencers saw improved or consistent engagement rates between their first and second posts in the campaign. Additionally, repeat partners who posted three to four times saw two to three times more relevant comments on their final posts compared to their first posts.
This shows audiences get used to specific brand influencers, come to expect their content, and engage more with specific creators’ content as they continue to post.
Currently, the average length of influencer contracts is all over the map. Traackr reports 16% of contracts are one-time deals, 27% are three months or less, 30% are between three and six months, and 18% last between six months and one year.
This year, experts project these numbers will trend toward longer-term contracts. “Long-term partnerships are becoming more common as brands recognize the value of maintaining a consistent social media presence. These collaborations enable brands to develop long-term relationships with influencers and their audiences, which can lead to more trust and loyalty,” says influencer marketing manager, Chace Cauthen.
“Multiple Pushing dates from influencers is also becoming more popular. This is most likely due to the fact that brands want more than just a quick plug-in. Brands are beginning to recognize the true worth of influencers and their ability to connect with audiences.”
To stay ahead of the game in 2023, work on building long-lasting relationships with creators who are true brand advocates.
5. More brands will invest in product seeding
There’s no one right and established way to reach out to influencers. Brands and influencer marketers are continually trying new ways to connect with their favorite creators and build relationships.
One way that has been gaining popularity in the past year and is expected to pick up speed in 2023 is product seeding.
Product seeding is when brands reach out to their favorite influencers organically and compliment them on their content. The brand also offers to send a product gift to the influencer with no strings attached. In other words, the influencer isn’t expected to create content for the brand, and the brand isn’t expected to pay.
If the influencer likes the product and ends up posting about it, the brand would then reach out to the influencer again and ask to use the user-generated content as an ad and enter into a long-term partnership.
“Product seeding can help you build personal relationships with influencers rather than transactional partnerships in the pay-per-post model. A long-term relationship will ensure the influencer of a monthly recurring income, and your brand will have a genuine ambassador,” says the founder of Optimized, Alexander Pauwelyn.
The idea behind product seeding is you’re building an authentic relationship with the influencer by giving them your product, allowing them to use it for free, and letting them choose whether or not they will post about it on social media. If they do post, you know you have gained an actual brand ambassador willing to make cool and authentic unboxing and how-to videos instead of creating stiff ads because they are paid to.
“An amazing unboxing experience can be an extra boost to your product seeding campaign. While shipping your product to influencers, ensure it's personal, give it a 'wow' factor and make it shareable,” adds Pauwelyn.
6. Expect to see more cross-platform marketing
Shopping is no longer a single-channel or even a single-device experience. Salsify’s 2022 Consumer Research Report found customers across four major global markets shop across more than 10 touch points when making purchases.
Consumers are also moving away from traditional platforms for product discovery and purchasing. For example, online search used to be the number one place to begin an online shopping experience. That’s changing.
According to Collectively, 54% of Gen Z and 58% of Millennial consumers believe social platforms are a better starting point than an online search to find out about new products—over online search.
These new consumer trends change things for marketers. It now makes sense for brands to invest more heavily in cross-platform and omnichannel marketing—even within the influencer marketing niche.
Just like consumers expect brands to meet them with similar branding and shopping experiences across platforms, they also expect to see the brand’s influencers represented across channels.
“As influencers work to foster close relationships with their followers, their audiences feel inclined to follow them on other social media networks besides their biggest or ‘primary’ platform,” says Emma Lenhart, agency founder at Avira Media.
“This trend of audiences following creators across platforms can benefit brands as they can require influencers to post campaign content cross-platform, and hit the same audiences multiple times with campaign content, which results in higher impressions, reach and campaign recall.”
7. New and niche platforms will present growth opportunities
Instagram was a mess in 2022. TikTok is at risk of getting banned in the US (we hope it doesn’t, but there’s a real risk). And Elon Musk acquiring Twitter has been nothing short of a disaster.
As a result, there’s been a huge migration to LinkedIn and a rise in new social networks, decentralized platforms, and niche communities (e.g., Mastodon, Hive, and Torum).
While no one platform has skyrocketed like TikTok did, marketers are starting to take notice of new growth opportunities for creators and brands.
For example, Rand Fishkin from Sparktoro recently posted the blog, Why Marketers, Creators, and Brands Should Start Using Mastodon ASAP.
Fishkin’s reasons included an analysis that shows Mastodon’s traffic surges every time Twitter has a meltdown, how it’s easiest to build a following at the start of a network’s growth curve, and engagement rates are high.
And Mastodon isn’t the only new network that shows promise for creators to grow a loyal following and brands to partner with these creators.
“A growing number of businesses are starting to see the value of niche (vertical) social networks. Influencers who dominate these smaller platforms have very dedicated followings, which translates to more persuasive and impactful marketing campaigns. The key is to find the appropriate networks relevant to your brand, and then target the most popular content creators on those platforms,” shares Jonathan Merry, co-founder, CryptoMonday.
“For example, my business is in the crypto industry, and we leverage platforms like Torum, Minds, and DTube to great results. Influencers there have considerably lower fees than those on more mainstream platforms, but the returns we get from these partnerships have been immense,” adds Merry.
LinkedIn has also seen considerable growth in the face of the chaos on other platforms. LinkedIn is projected to reach 66.8 million monthly active users, which is up from 58.5 million users in 2018. It’s also attracting more influencers and creators—especially in the business world.
“LinkedIn, while not traditionally known as a platform for content creators, is slowly becoming a great resource for finding, connecting, and partnering with influencers. Recent additions to its feature set, such as Creator Mode, have slowly made it more conducive for influencer marketing campaigns. Creators are realizing this and are now amassing loyal followings on the platform, so there are definitely a lot of opportunities for potential partnerships there,” says Milo Cruz, CMO of Freelance Writing Jobs.
“We started working with LinkedIn influencers early this year, and we’ve already doubled traffic to our website since then.”
This next year, creators and brands looking to these niche communities will see considerable wins.
Influencer marketing continues to grow despite new trends and platform chaos
2022 was a successful year for influencer marketers, and things are looking up in 2023 as well. While influencer marketing and creator partnerships will help brands grow and capture more sales, it’s also essential to keep a pulse on marketing, influencer, and industry trends.
We’re moving into 2023 with some big uncertainties, including whether or not TikTok will get banned and what will happen with Twitter. But one thing remains certain: consumers will still follow and engage with their favorite creators, no matter where they end up.