With a new emphasis on authenticity stemming from the advent of artificial intelligence and deep fake technology (thank you Taylor Swift!), 2024 might be the year that Influencer Marketing is forced to change shape, evolving from a “show metrics” tactic to a better way to foster real, meaningful, human connections.
The influencer approach isn’t going away; It’s had an impressive growth trajectory. And it’s projected to reach $69.92 billion by 2029. However, marketers must be careful to stay on top of these 6 emerging trends that shape the influencer marketing landscape or risk harming brand reputation forever.
Trend #1: GET REAL
More and more consumers demand genuine stories from brands and influencers alike. This trend is especially pronounced among Millennials and Gen Z audiences, who prefer "genuine and homegrown" content over polished, flawless presentations. In this context, brands should champion authentic representation, ensuring that any brand advocate mirrors diverse values and thinking that resonates with target buyers. Yes, this means that “celebrity” influencers are not the only way to go.
Trend #2: GET SMALL
Coupled with the authenticity trend is the rise of nano-influencers, individuals with smaller, but highly engaged, niche-specific audiences, who are prized for their ability to forge genuine connections and foster trust and brand loyalty among followers and fans. Marketers should not pass on creators with less reach and volume of followers but focus more on quality and conversions. Ultimately who brings humanity to your brand and has a genuine appreciation for what you are offering.
Trend #3: PURPOSELY PURPOSEFUL
Sustainability and purpose-driven campaigns are also gaining momentum, with young people increasingly drawn to creators advocating for causes, emphasizing the need for brands to collaborate with influencers who don’t simply endorse products but also contribute to societal and environmental betterment. Backing these creators can give a brand a deep well of good feelings among allies for the cause. Of course, this can also backfire, like it did for Bud Light. Brands should know what they’re getting into and be prepared to lose some customers while gaining others.
Trend #4: DOWN THE FUNNEL
Once reserved for the top-of-funnel awareness campaigns, influencers are increasingly being used across the entire user experience. This full-funnel activation approach underscores the creator’s role not just as a broadcast spokesperson, but as a potent sales channel, including driving conversions and ongoing loyalty.
Trend #5: LISTENING
More brands are using social media listening to gain first-party data, enabling personalized strategies that resonate deeply with target audiences. Teleflora wanted to know more about Moms for Mother’s Day, so they did a deep dive on YouTube and found a mom putting her son on the school bus for the first time. They licensed and used this video in a campaign to remind people that the hardest part of bing a mom was letting their kids go and experience life’s major milestones, independently. This approach, with direct insights into real-time consumer behavior, helps marketers find new creators, which leads to campaigns that truly resonate and drive engagement.
Trend #6: AI-ENHANCED CASTING
The integration of AI into influencer selection processes is set to become more sophisticated in 2024. AI-driven tools will aid brands in identifying influencers whose values align with the brand, whose audience demographics match the target market, and who maintain genuine engagement with their followers. This data-driven approach is expected to streamline the influencer selection process and enhance return on investment for brands.
In summary, authenticity, strategic engagement, and a deep understanding of audience preferences have never been more important when working with creators. Brands that adapt to these trends will absolutely stand out from the rest and are poised to thrive in a world of increasingly inauthentic content. The emphasis should be on building long-term, meaningful relationships with creators and audiences alike, underpinned by a commitment to authenticity, transparency, and shared values.