Consumer confidence may be slowly waning due to inflation, geopolitical tension and looming recession, but despite the arduous time ahead, brands still need to find ways to gain new customers and keep their current ones engaged. In order to tackle this set of future challenges, brands should rely on influencer marketing instead of traditional marketing strategies, which often has unfocused targeting and is less versatile. With influencer marketing, you can gain more reach, increase sales, build trust and more. Keep reading to find how you can use influencer marketing to your advantage at a time of such uncertainty and future predictions for the industry.Why partnering with influencers is the right path in the current economy The biggest hurdle brands have to work through in this uncertain economy is their budget. With the oncoming recession, most consumers will be reluctant to spend their money, or will focus their spending on services versus physical goods. According to eMarketer, persistently high inflation could lead consumers to be more cautious spending their money in 2023.In a stable economy, brands can afford to spend a lot of money on advertisements and have higher confidence that customers will buy their products. That isn’t the case anymore thanks to the recession. Brands still need to spend money on advertising and gain customers, but they must be frugal and thoughtful about which type of marketing they will invest in. Increasing brand awareness while sticking to your budgetWith such a limited budget, influencer marketing is the right path for brands to gain more customers without the need to spend a lot of money on marketing. Influencers are able to create and distribute their content for a much lower cost than if a brand had to hire production crews to film and design an ad. They have a passion for creating high quality and engaging content and love connecting with their followers. You have a guarantee that your influencer will represent your brand well and create content your target audience finds useful and engaging.Influencer marketing can help increase brand awareness by introducing your brand to potential customers. They already have their own base of loyal followers that their content will reach. On the other hand, relying on paid advertisements is a lot more expensive and may offer lesser returns. You hope your target audience sees these paid ads and are receptive to them, but an influencer can really sell to your target audience on a much more personal level. Leveraging nano or micro influencersKeeping budget in mind, smaller businesses can consider working with nano or micro-influencers. Although most will assume that an influencer with a larger following is better, there are some things that nano or micro-influencers do better than their bigger counterparts. One of the biggest benefits of leveraging nano or micro-influencers is their affordable rate. Although influencer marketing is cheaper than social media marketing and traditional marketing, collaborating with macro and mega-influencers can be rather costly for small businesses.Nano or micro-influencers have higher engagement and conversion rates because of their smaller followings, allowing influencers to connect more deeply with their followers than bigger influencers. This deep connection makes it possible for influencers to convince their followers to try out a product because the followers feel the sponsorship is authentic. They trust influencers and have a certain level of admiration for them - if your favourite influencer recommends a product and raves about it, you’re more likely to purchase it for yourself.A path to increasing salesInfluencers are adept at increasing sales. Their ability to produce engaging content and their followers' trust in them make it easy for them to convince their followers to purchase a product. In fact, 49% of consumers decide which product to buy based on influencer recommendations. By asking influencers to recommend your brand, you will gain more sales than you may get through traditional marketing.Influencers are also motivated to work the extra mile to create a great promotion since they will benefit if the sponsorship goes well. Many influencers hope to create long-term relationships with brands so they will receive future sponsorships, which is why they have to make sure that the first sponsorship is a great success. This incentivizes a win-win situation relationship between influencers and brands. So long as influencers work the extra mile, brands will get more exposure and an uptick in sales while influencers receive more sponsorships.
More spending on influencer marketingInfluencer marketing is here to stay, and it will become even more integral to marketing campaigns in the future. Spending on influencer marketing is expected to increase by 23.4% in 2023 and 15.9% in 2024. As long as people flock to social media, influencers will continue to grow and establish themselves in the market. Taking that into account, more brands will collaborate with influencers who can help them build relationships with new audiences and increase brand awareness.Increase of in-house influencer programs As more brands understand the importance of influencers, some will consider using in-house influencer programs. In this way, brands can focus on building long-term partnerships that may not be possible when using an agency. This does not mean that influencer agencies will be gone — they offer unparalleled expertise and ease of scalability, which is sometimes difficult to find elsewhere. So it goes without saying that — since it's expensive — not every brand can afford in-house influencer programs.Birth of virtual influencers The existence of virtual influencers is a topic that is slowly gaining traction in the marketing industry. The rise of metaverse and web3 also push forward the rise of virtual influencers. Virtual influencers are computer-generated fictional characters used for marketing purposes, in lieu of human influencers.They provide a unique opportunity to reach a new, younger audience allowing your company to tap into this demographic in a more effective way than you may have previously been able to. There are no physical or geographical limitations to virtual influencers - after all, they are computer-generated - so they can grow their online presence and quickly attract attention, while being able to create content around the clock.A big benefit of working with virtual influencers is that brands get to maintain full control over their projects from conception to completion. You don’t need to vet for the right influencer either because you are creating them through your computer. Luxury brands Balmain and Prada have already leveraged virtual influencers to run successful campaigns. For example, Prada developed a virtual model named after the Prada Candy fragrance to help attract new and existing customers.The threat of recession, the tension in politics and the ongoing pandemic issue have created a storm that reduces consumer confidence. However, brands should stay calm and find their paths through these trials. One way to do it is by collaborating with influencers who can help brands using their authenticity and engaging content. Keep an eye on influencer marketing trends to stay relevant and take advantage of what’s to come in our industry.
_About the author
Viral Nation is a new media innovation group that powers the social ecosystem through integrated solutions that align strategy, talent, media, and technology. As pioneers in the influencer space, Viral Nation is comprised of a full-service creative agency, a creator and athlete-influencer representation agency, and a technology division creating modern marketing solutions for the social media age.