10 influencer marketing trends you need to know in 2021

Jan 12th, 2021 — Jenn Kim
3 minute read

2020 has affected the influencer marketing industry in many different aspects. To understand how the market has changed and how we can adapt going forward, we recently compiled insights gathered from internal data and surveys. For a full analysis of the social media ecosystem, download The 2021 state of influencer marketing.

Keep reading for some of the most noteworthy statistics we found.

1. Influencer marketing budgets are increasing — big time 

76% of brands will continue to invest in influencer marketing in 2021, as the strategy has proven to bring impactful results. This year specifically, brands have leveraged influencers to expand reach, generate high-quality content, boost conversions, and more.

2. 85% of brands plan to increase their Instagram presence, especially as many look towards ecommerce growth

Following trends from the last few years, Instagram remains the biggest priority for creators and brands in the influencer marketing space. And as Instagram ramps up its shopping features, the platform is becoming an increasingly important cornerstone in digital commerce and consumer purchasing decisions.

3. But other platforms — like TikTok— are on the rise

47% of marketers and 48% of creators also plan to increase their presence on TikTok in 2021. This is a huge difference from last year, when just 12% of marketers said they would grow their presence on the short-form video app.

TikTok also has a higher engagement rate than channels like Instagram, showcasing the big opportunity that brands have on the short-form video platform. Additionally, TikTok recently added an integration with Shopify — which enables brands to sell products directly through the platforms — indicating that this channel is an increasingly important driver for ecommerce sales.

4. 96% of creators crave deeper brand relationships — not just one-off posts

Today, creators don’t just want to create content to promote products on social media. An increasing number of creators want to produce content for other marketing channels, such as websites, emails, ads, and more. A large majority of creators also want to be long-term ambassadors for their favorite brands — not only to have a steady income, but also to build more authentic relationships with the brands that they love.

5. Creators are willing to lower their pay rates to support their favorite brands 

2020 has had a drastic impact on the industry’s compensation model. The economic recession following the pandemic has thrown a curveball in pricing, as brand budgets have been cut and there are fewer opportunities for collaborations. 

When we asked our creator community about shifting pay rates, 60% said that they’re willing to accept lower rates due to the effects of COVID-19. 

What’s more, 87% are willing to work with their favorite brands just for free products, as long as they love the brand or the product value is high. Creators want to have a bigger part in helping their favorite brands succeed, even if it means that they’re not necessarily compensated monetarily.

6. 93% of brands believe that influencers aren’t the only ones with the power to sway purchasing decisions

This year, brands built partnerships not only with traditional social media influencers, but also creatives, customers, and other members of their community. 

Going forward, marketers will continue to expand their definition of ‘influence’ and invest in those who are most passionate about their brand. Remember that a customer who writes a glowing review can also influence purchases, as can an in-store employee who shows a shopper their favorite picks.

7. Ambassador programs may be the next big thing

73% of marketers already have a brand ambassador program or plan to launch one in the near future.

Although one-off, seasonal influencer campaigns are great for short-term PR pushes and building a buzz around special promotions, the best way to ensure that brands have sustainable business growth is to build a strong brand ambassador program. Ambassadorships come with several benefits, including evergreen content, better rates, and exclusivity. 

As brands prioritize long-term relationships over one-off transactions, they will nurture deeper relationships and build more ambassador programs. 

8. 60% of marketers today are prioritizing smaller creators

Data shows that creators with smaller followings have greater engagement rates than macro-influencers. In fact, last year, we found that micro-influencers achieve 42% higher engagement rates than macro-influencers. This year, we found that nano influencers achieve the highest engagement rates. Brands are focusing less on working with people with big followings, and more on building partnerships with those who have real influence in their communities. 

9. Cost per engagement rises 23% year-over-year

Over the past decade or so, the influencer marketing industry has seen immense growth. In due course, influencers have grown more expensive when measured on a cost-per-engagement (CPE) basis. CPE on Instagram has risen to $0.32 this year, which is a 23% year-over-year increase from last year, when average CPE was $0.26. 

However, keep in mind that there are a multitude of factors that go into how much brands pay an influencer, such as the influencer’s experience, relevance, industry, and joint work history.

10. Content spend drops 52% as brands leverage community-generated content

Community-generated content is content created by members of a brand’s community that compels someone to think, feel, act, and share. This year, brands have drastically reduced their content creation costs by repurposing community-generated content on their own social channels, website, emails, paid ads, and more. 

To learn more surprising benchmarks — and how to act on them — download The 2021 state of influencer marketing

More from the blog