Forty-nine percent of consumers rely on recommendations from social media influencers to help them with their purchasing decisions.  It’s no wonder so many businesses are lining up to work with these professionals. In this guide, you’ll learn more about how influencer marketing works and the unique benefits it offers brands like yours. You’ll also discover some of the top influencer marketing trends for 2022.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a unique type of social media marketing. It involves brands collaborating with online influencers (people who have large and/or highly engaged social media followings) to market their products or services.  Anyone can be an influencer. From fashion bloggers who are Instagram-famous to marketing executives who have gained an impressive following on LinkedIn, they’re everywhere.

In the early days of influencer marketing, one had to have a very large following (at least 10,000 people in most cases) to be considered an influencer. These days, though, some have smaller followings and still have a significant influence.  The key is expertise in one’s field. If someone is seen as a trusted leader within a particular industry, they can likely make it as an influencer.

Why Does Influencer Marketing Work?

There are lots of benefits that businesses can experience when they choose to partner with influencers. The following are some of the top reasons why influencer marketing works:

Increased Brand Awareness

When you partner with a social media influencer and invite them to promote your products or services, you automatically expand your reach and grow your audience.  The more people are aware of your brand and what you have to offer, the more likely you are to see an increase in the number of people interacting with you on social media and through your website.  Once people are aware of your brand, they’re going to be more inclined to check out your business the next time they require products or services like the ones you offer.

Increased Credibility

Increased brand awareness through influencer partnerships can also help to increase your business’s credibility. When people see someone they know and trust promoting a product or service on their social media platform, they will believe that product or service is one worth using.  Influencer marketing is such a great tool because the influencer has already done the hard work of gaining their audience’s trust. This makes it easier, by default, for you to gain their trust as well.

Attract Younger Customers

Influencer marketing is particularly useful for brands that are looking to attract younger audiences (Millennials and members of Gen Z). These groups are more likely to use social media than older generations, and influencer marketing allows you to reach them where they’re already spending their time.

Improved Lead Generation

Social media marketing, in general, plays an important role in lead generation. Influencer marketing, specifically, does a great job of helping to catch people’s attention and get them interested in learning more about your brand.  You’ll likely see an increase in email signups and website traffic when you partner with social media influencers. Many social media platforms also offer additional advertising features that help you tailor content specifically toward lead generation, which will help you to see even more noticeable improvements.

Increased Conversions

In addition to increasing the number of leads you generate; influencer marketing can also help you to increase conversions.  At the end of the day, don’t all businesses have one goal in mind: to increase sales and generate more revenue? Influencer marketing can help you do this by exposing your products or services to a larger audience, establishing trust sooner with your target market, and encouraging them to make purchases for themselves.

Influencer Marketing Trends for 2022

If you’re thinking about dipping your toe into the influencer marketing pool this year, you should be aware of the latest influencer marketing trends. The following are some of the biggest trends you’ll see among social media influencers in 2022:

Nano and Micro-Influencer Partnerships

A nano-influencer is someone who has between 0 and 10,000 followers. A micro-influencer is someone who has between 10,000 and 100,000 followers.  A person doesn’t need to have millions of people following them to make an impact and help you promote your products and services. What matters more than the number of followers, in fact, is a person’s rate of engagement (the number of likes, comments, shares, etc. they receive on their posts).

In 2022, there will be an increase in the number of brands partnering with nano and micro-influencers, and engagement plays a big part in that change.  People with smaller followings often have an easier time connecting and building relationships with their audience. This typically leads to higher engagement rates and more trust, both of which are important when it comes to actually generate leads and making sales.

Authentic Influencing

A few years ago, social media was all about curating the perfect image of oneself. Influencers worked hard to present themselves as perfectly as possible and hide any perceived flaws.  Over the last couple of years, though, this has started to change. Instead, there’s been a bigger push toward authentic influencing.

In 2022, the demand for authenticity will be greater than ever. Rather than seeing filtered and photoshopped images, consumers want to see people who look like them and relate to their struggles.  Brands will need to keep this in mind when deciding which influencers, they want to partner with. They will likely see better results when they align with authentic, vulnerable influencers rather than those obsessed with putting out an unrealistic version of themselves.

Video content reigns supreme in the social media world these days. Photos are great, but what people really want to see are videos — 15-second TikToks, 10-minute IGTV videos, and everything in between.  When it comes to influencer marketing, brands will see the best results when they work with influencers who create high-quality video content.  This requires more work on the influencer’s part, and it may also require a higher investment from the brand because of the extra effort involved. However, it will also yield more engagement from followers and better returns across the board.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are not “trends” per se, but there has been a greater push in the last couple of years for businesses to include people from all walks of life in their ads.  Consumers want to see people who can relate to them when they’re scrolling through social media. This includes people of different races, ethnicities, genders, and abilities.  By partnering with a diverse array of influencers, your brand will be able to attract an even larger audience. This helps you show, too, that your products or services are for everyone.

Ongoing Partnerships

In the past, a lot of brands have done one-off partnerships with influencers. In 2022, though, there will be an increase in the number of brands engaging in ongoing influencer marketing partnerships.  The benefit of ongoing partnerships is that they help to build trust and credibility. Social media users are savvier than they once were, and it’s easier for them to tell when someone is being inauthentic.

If an influencer talks about a product once and then never mentions it again, that’s a sign that they don’t actually love and use the product. They were just promoting it in that one post in exchange for a quick buck. Not only does this impact the influencer’s credibility, but it also raises eyebrows about the effectiveness and quality of the product. That’s not good for your brand or your bottom line, is it?

If you have an ongoing partnership with a particular influencer, it’s easier to build an ongoing relationship with their followers, too. They’ll see that the influencer really does love and use the product or service, which will make them more likely to try it for themselves.

Employee Advocacy

In 2022, brands will start relying more heavily on their own employees to help them promote their products and services online. The rise in employee influencers or employee advocacy is due, in part, to the growing demand for authenticity on social media.  Think of it this way. If your business’s product or service is really that great, wouldn’t your own employees be talking about it on their social media platforms?  Employee advocacy can help you to increase your brand’s credibility and makes it easier for people to trust your business.

One reason for this is that it provides your followers with a greater level of transparency.  Your employees can share content on social media that gives people a behind-the-scenes look at the company.  If your followers can see what goes on day to day, this may help them to develop more respect for what you do. They may also be more inclined to buy what you’re selling when they know what goes into creating it in the first place.

Start Using Influencer Marketing Today

Now that you know more about the benefits of influencer marketing and what the top influencer marketing trends are for 2022, are you ready to give this tactic a try?  Test one (or more) of the trends listed above to see how it improves your social media marketing strategy. Feel free to reach out to us, too, if you need more influencer marketing advice.