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 consumers increasingly use social channels to discover and buy products. These three current marketing trends and how they impact the influencer industry.

The authenticity mandatory

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 opinions.

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.”

With regular users on social increasingly seeking out authenticity, we have seen creators find greater success on platforms such as TikTok (compared to Instagram) – unfiltered, raw, and often unpolished content is among the most popular.

Meta-influencers and creators in the digital sphere

Elsewhere in marketing, the metaverse is also having an impact, whatever its reality. While it might be considered a buzzword or overhyped by some, Facebook’s rebrand to Meta has undoubtedly spurred a flurry of interest in the space, with brands and influencers experimenting with campaigns designed for a new interactive realm.

This has mostly involved brands creating digital goods that can be bought or traded in various spaces. Meanwhile, metaverse platform Decentraland launched its very own fashion week in March, which saw several brands create digital fashion that can be bought and worn as NFTs.

It means more opportunities to establish their own presence in the metaverse and forge connections with brands that want to target consumers there. At the same time, however, there’s scope for new competition from new virtual influencers or avatars (that are designed to look and appear like real-life folk).

This is not a brand-new concept – Lil’ Miquela, who now has three million Instagram followers, was one of the first virtual influencers of note. Now, however, we are seeing brands create their own influencers specifically for the metaverse. This opportunity enables them to demonstrate greater control over influencer marketing and create digital avatars that uniquely represent their brand or product.

In the future, we could also see real-life influencers create digital versions or avatars of themselves. High-profile names have already done this – Justin Bieber teamed up with virtual entertainment company Wave last year for an interactive stage concert, which saw Bieber control his digital avatar by wearing a motion-capture suit. With interest growing in the metaverse, it’s certainly a new opportunity for influencers (and brands) to explore.

The growing power of Pinterest as a creator-led shopping platform

Influencer marketing is typically geared around platforms like Instagram or TikTok, where shared content can easily go viral on app feeds. On Pinterest, which focuses more on discovery (and people searching for specific ideas or categories), building an ‘audience’ as such is much harder.

However, one shift that could see more influencers building a presence on Pinterest is its growing power as a shopping platform, spurred on by newly released creators and commerce features.

Pinterest also introduced its live shopping tool, Pinterest TV, in November 2021, which, as it describes, is “a series of live, original and shoppable episodes featuring creators.” The idea is that creators with an interest or level of expertise in a niche category, ranging from knitting to cooking, can directly interact with an audience on Pinterest through interactive live video – something we have not seen on the platform before.

Finally, with Pinterest rolling out its first-ever in-product monetization program in the form of ‘Creators Rewards’ – offering creators tips, insights, and even grants – it’s clear that the platform is intent on further competing with TikTok and creating a new home for influencers.