We have previously written about the challenges facing brands in 2023. In that article, we outlined the five top priorities of brand marketers for the coming year. Three of these priorities are building & retaining the trust of customers: improving collaboration, and experimenting with new market strategies.
In the last three years, the number of Google searches for “influencer marketing” has increased by 1500%. This shows that influencer marketing continues to have opportunities  and will continue to play an essential role in marketing as brands balance the need to survive the economic downturn rising interest rates and build and retain trust and improve collaboration.
This is because using influencer marketing is the most effective and cheapest form of branded content marketing. It is a way of reducing marketing costs while maintaining influence and recognition with clients and potential clients .
There are several reasons for this.
These two platforms continue to be the leading platforms for brands in their Influencer marketing strategy . In 2023, brands will need to adapt and diversify their marking strategy to these platforms' specifics to utilise their potential fully; otherwise, they risk being left behind.
On Instagram, an influencer’s number of followers remains a crucial metric for evaluating their popularity and reach. However, brands need to be mindful of two factors with Instagram. Firstly, brands need to ensure that before entering any partnership, they are not dealing with bots and inauthentic accounts . They also need to consider follower engagement, not simply the number of followers, as discussed further below.
TikTok is slightly different in that the focus is more on the content rather than the influencer. This allows brands to prioritise creative and entertaining content to generate engagement rather than relying solely on the influencer.
It also means that with TikTok, there is an emphasis on authenticity, which is why nano and micro-influencers are increasingly popular on TikTok .
The difference between popularity on Instagram and authenticity on TikTok is an essential consideration for brands.
Authenticity and transparency are essential characteristics of brands for customers, hence it is crucial when a brand is considering partnering with an Influencer that they carry out due diligence to ensure they are dealing with a person who is genuine and authentic and do not simply fall into the trap of using metrics that show online popularity. Many influencers buy fake followers, so while they may have a large number of followers, their engagement rate is low. In contrast, micro or nano-influencers may have fewer followers but work harder to maintain personal bonds with their audience and have a high engagement rate.
It is important to remember that sometimes, less is more. Having a micro-influencer who has fewer followers but a higher engagement with the followers they do have and where there is alignment between the influencer’s ethos and the brand values is far better than having an influencer who has little engagement from their followers and where there is a lack of alignment .
The other advantage of micro or nano influencers is that they are more reasonably priced and hence represent better value for money for many brands.
Not only will 2023 see a rise in the importance of micro or nano influencers, but the ability of influencers to reach diverse groups will also become increasingly important. In other words, marketers will begin to group influencers based on whom they are associated with rather than simply engaging with individual influencers . This links with the second priority mentioned in the opening paragraph, improving collaboration.
The influencer who possesses the power to transfer ideas or products between different groups will be the most influential. An example of this is gaming influencers.
Gaming influencers range from skilled players who stream their game playing to millions of fans to professional video game players who compete in the esports space. Fans will often follow gamers for their high-level video game skills and the tight-knit community they have built with the influencers and fellow fans.
Esports are continuing to gain legitimacy, and it is expected to grow by $1 billion by 2025. Samsung, Red Bull and Hershey already have developed partnerships with Ninja, a top gaming streamer on Twitch and more brands are expected to follow this path in 2023 .
Collaboration is not just with the influencer who can transfer ideas and products to different groups. The strength and ongoing relationship between the brand and the influencer are also increasingly important.
Realising this, brands are seeking new ways to build long-term associations with influencers, and one way this is done is through in-house influencer programs. Instead of being involved with content distribution to influencers, in-house influencer marketing focuses on building relationships with people. This arrangement also allows brands to work more closely with influencers .
One of the new strategies that are beginning to have an impact is CGI influencers or Computer-Generated Imagery Influencers.
Manufactured in the virtual world, programmers and designers work for hours to create each scene from a CGI influencer’s life. CGI influencers can be seen posing at notable locations and with superstars or celebrities on their social media channels .
CGI influencers have been on social media for only a couple of years. So, there is a sense of wonder and fascination about their lives. What do they look like? What are they doing? Where are they going? Are they real? These questions keep bringing users back to check their profiles. To feed this compelling interest, their creators have given them distinctive personalities, fictional backgrounds and a set of political and social beliefs they advocate .
Among the first breed of these digital characters was Hatsune Miku, a Japanese pop star who goes on a world tour every year. Hatsune was created back in 2007. In 2013, Louis Vuitton’s iconic fashion designer, Marc Jacobs, designed her tour costumes. At this point, brands started to recognise the real potential of these digital characters. In a way, that paved the way for the entry of CGI influencers .
Whether brands engage with Computer-Generated Influencers (CGIs) or real-life influencers, the role and importance of influencers in 2023 will continue to grow. Brands need to consider how they can use influencers effectively in marketing to build brand awareness and collaboration with groups of potential customers.