By Jim Meadows, chief strategy officer at TAKUMI.
Almost two years ago, the first COVID-19 case emerged. It’s been a long road since then, and despite a returning feeling of normality, there’s a way left to go before we can truly declare this crisis over.
That said, after 18-months, the era of pandemic consumer behaviour is beginning to take shape, and so are the marketing strategies built around it.
Traditional OOH marketing strategies suffered considerably during the various lockdowns, with data from WARC finding the amount spent on offline media in 2020 dropped by about 20%. With shops closed for a considerable period last year, consumers instead started interacting with brands solely online and influencers emerged as a key marketing channel for brands to interact with their audience.
The integrating of influencers into the wider marketing mix
Over the past 12-months, this seismic shift in attitudes towards influencers has repositioned them at the core of brands’ marketing strategies and increased their integration into multi-channel campaigns.
Take ASOS, for example: while the fashion brand arguably had its influencer marketing roots in Instagram – favouring the platform’s aesthetic-led content – the brand has rapidly expanded its presence across other platforms this year and, as a result, explored new formats. From Images to Live Stories to short-form video, ASOS has expanded its use of social media through influencers and can now pick and choose the most effective creators for each platform.
Next year, we expect influencer marketing to continue to operate like other marketing disciplines, in that campaigns are not only multi-channel but layered – featuring a variety of creators across numerous platforms that cater to each brands’ audience. By exploring different platforms and integrating creators into multi-channel activations, marketers gain access to a full suite of options within influencer marketing and can improve the effectiveness of their campaigns.
The improvement of social commerce capabilities on platforms
We expect to see more brands integrate influencers into their marketing strategies next year, particularly as social media platforms beef up their in-app commerce capabilities. This year, Instagram rolled out its Checkout function across the US and began trialling it in the UK, while TikTok announced a partnership with Shopify in August.
The ByteDance-owned app’s link up with the commerce platform is a particularly interesting development and gives a clear indication of the direction of social media in the future. The new TikTok Shopping feature allows Shopify merchants with a TikTok For Business account to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles and sync their product catalogues to the app. Sellers can also link directly to their products in their videos by tagging them, allowing TikTok users to shop directly from their content.
With more commerce features appearing on social platforms, marketers and influencers can expand the scope of their partnership and brands can look to engage consumers and convert sales entirely within a creators’ page. Part of this expanded partnership may involve creators incorporating the new shopping features into their content planning by creating storefronts that can be used for events and new product launches.
Enter the metaverse
However, the social media space may look completely different in 12-months thanks to Meta. In October, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, outlined his vision for the future of Facebook, formalising the company’s focus on the metaverse during its rebranding.
The metaverse – a space where the physical and digital worlds collide – provides creators with a new mode of interaction and communication, not only with their followers but also with their fellow influencers. Food influencers, for instance, can cook together; travel influencers can share trips; brands will get access to more sophisticated and precise data than ever before. It’s a playground with practically no limits and allows all influencers and brands – no matter their speciality – to explore and express their creativity.
While the metaverse may be an idea at the moment, if it does come to fruition, it will completely disrupt the social media and creator space. For meta or for worse, the influencer marketing world is changing and marketers need to be prepared.