Influencers are more integral to the digital marketing strategies of big brands than ever before. This has been driven by a rise in social media usage since the Covid pandemic and the fact that consumers are increasingly using social channels to discover and buy products.
With social influence growing, how is the industry evolving? Here’s a look at three current marketing trends and their impact on the influencer industry.
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The authenticity imperative
Authenticity is now the number one attribute that US adults want to see more of from brands, above other factors such as social responsibility or value for money, according to a 2021 survey by R.R. Donnelley & Sons. Of course, authenticity has always been a key part of influencer marketing, with the most successful creators building their audiences based on genuine recommendations and opinion.
As creator management platform GRIN states in its “State of Influencer Marketing 2022” report: “For partnerships to succeed, a creator must know the brand, use their products, and truly believe in both. Consumers can smell a fake endorsement from a mile away. And when they do, they’ve already lost.”
The push for authenticity has also been driven by wider opinion about the harm that social media (or more specifically, the highly edited and filtered version of it) can expose young people to. Consequently, the ASA has banned “misleading filters” on beauty ads, which relates to any filter that enhances or exaggerates the effect or a product or procedure. UK conservative MP Dr. Luke Evans has proposed the Digitally Altered Body Image Bill, which if passed, will require influencers to flag when their face or body has been edited or altered in any way.
The wider industry is starting to show stronger support, too. Ogilvy UK has backed Evans’ bill, and has recently made its own pledge to refuse to work with any influencers that routinely retouch their appearance. The agency will use technology to detect if images have been edited in this way, with hopes that other agencies will follow suit.
With regular users on social increasingly seeking out authenticity, we have seen creators find greater success on platforms such as TikTok (compared to Instagram) – where unfiltered, raw, and often unpolished content is among the most popular.
This demand has led to the rise of BeReal – a new app that markets itself as the antithesis of Facebook and Instagram. Users are given a two-minute window to take two photos, from the front and rear camera, and upload it to BeReal. The premise is that there’s no time to stage or pose – the content must be candid.
The app has gained popularity on US college campuses, but recent media coverage has led to further interest. According to figures cited by TechCrunch, BeReal has seen 7.67 million downloads in the year-to-date, perhaps signalling a significant shift towards a more authentic, collegiate and “unfiltered” social media.