3 emerging influencer trends that marketers should watch

Mar 18, 2024
3 emerging influencer trends that marketers should watch
Influencer marketing continues to prove its value, which is why it comes as little surprise that it is set to play a bigger role in product development, impact the 2024 election and make headway into pharma and other industries. Adam Rossow of Group RFZ helps marketers stay ahead of the curve by detailing these three trends that he expects to unfold in this ever-changing field.

Last year was a boon year for influencer marketing and the industry shows no signs of a slowdown. Marketers are expected to spend more than $7 billion in 2024 on influencer marketing, proving its value in helping companies reach new audiences, sway behaviors and generate revenue. With a major election afoot and fast-changing consumer behaviors, influencer marketing will continue to evolve in new ways. By getting in front of these three influencer trends, marketers can better position themselves and their organization for success.

Influencers take on new role: product development
Content creators continue to break through new barriers in the creator economy, which is free from traditional business constraints. For influencers able to amass a sizable following, a plethora of opportunities emerge, including brand partnerships, collaborations and even the potential to launch their own companies and brands.

As creators hone their marketing and business acumen, a notable shift occurs—from mere brand endorsements to entrepreneurial ventures of their own. Examples include MrBeast and his MrBeast Burger brand, which hit $100 million in revenue in one year and recently launched new virtual brand Creators’ Kitchen, or fitness influencer Kayla Itsines and her wildly popular Sweat app that is estimated to generate over $70 million in annual revenue.

In the next two to three years, we’ll see more influencers venture into developing their product lines, promoting personal services and building their brands across various social media platforms. This diversification in revenue streams not only expands their income sources, but also paves the way for the influencer to take on the brand CEO role.

Side by side this trend will be a continued evolution where influencers, regardless of their follower counts, play a pivotal role in steering the product development process. Their direct and trusted connections with diverse consumer groups represent a goldmine for research and development. Rather than merely serving as messengers, brands will increasingly rely on influencers to engage their audiences, such as soliciting feedback on features, conducting A/B tests and exploring imaginative “if you could have this” scenarios.

Though this approach may lack the precision of traditional market research, it also circumvents many of its challenges. While influencers will still primarily be tasked with influencing, there’s growing recognition of the value they bring in uncovering consumer insights that can benefit R&D teams.

2024 – The influencer election
The second of our three influencer trends will cause the influencer marketing landscape to undergo a major transformation during election season. According to news outlet Semafor, 2024 is poised to mark the emergence of the first major influencer-driven election. While hashtag challenges on TikTok and day-in-the-life vlogs on YouTube will still abound, there will be a notable shift toward influencers using their voices to call attention to pressing political issues and urge followers to participate in the November election.

As trust in politicians wanes, Americans’ trust in their peers, including social media influencers, is on the rise. Beyond trust-building, influencer marketing offers many benefits for organizations and campaigns:

the ability to reach diverse audiences (especially the younger set that tends to get their information from digital platforms rather than TV),
social amplification opportunities,
minimal regulations, great message control and
However, unlike the last election, we won’t see influencers sending out simplistic messages to vote for certain individuals or causes. The field has matured significantly in the past four years to include real-time polling and analytics. As such, there will be more creative content rooted in core values and more issues-based messaging.

There also will be strong pleas to get out and vote, which can be powerful enough on their own to sway election outcomes.

An influencer-driven election also stands to provide marketers with a more in-depth understanding of the influencers participating in it. Beyond surface-level insights into follower counts and engagement rates, they’ll gain valuable insights into influencer ideologies and values. This deeper understanding will help them select influencers for future engagements that align best with their brand ethos and beliefs.

Rise of the pharma/medical influencer
Influencer marketing has surged in other verticals in the past decade, but the uptick hasn’t been as swift in the pharma and medical industries. The reasons for its stunted growth are understandable – both industries are riddled with regulations and have inherent issues with trust and reputation. Consumers tend to have a more negative perception of pharma, in particular. A Gallup industry reputation poll found just 18% of Americans hold a favorable view of pharma, while a record-high 60% view it negatively.

However, the tides are starting to shift as more companies are turning to influencer-driven campaigns to establish and strengthen relationships with consumers, as well as educate people on medical conditions and treatment options. Traditional ad vehicles such as TV and print still often work for pharma and medical brands, but influencers present an exciting new marketing avenue. This is because they’ve proven to be extremely successful at relaying personal stories, getting specific messages across and sparking action.

First-hand accounts from influencers resonate in pharma and medical specifically because it’s important for someone making decisions about their health and well-being to have that trusted voice – and consumers tend to trust influencers who can relay how products have positively impacted their lives more than a company’s marketing message.

In 2024, we’ll see the growth of two types of pharma and medical influencers:

patient influencers who share their experiences, stories and become credible sources for health care seekers, and
health care professionals who give advice to people seeking medical information.
There also will be a shift from celebrity patient influencers – i.e. Khloe Kardashian and Serena Williams for migraine drugs – to microinfluencers. This shift is because microinfluencers more intimately relate and interact with their followers and share their day-to-day journeys.

Patient- and health care-led influencer campaigns will still need to be handled delicately. Influencers will need to be extremely well vetted and provided with an overly thorough onboarding, and there will need to be a stringent reviews process in place that ensures their content meets the requirements for regulated campaigns.

The good news is agencies and creators alike have become proficient in these processes and will only become more so in the next couple of years.

The other good news is, as influencer marketing continues to evolve into a mainstay of marketing plans everywhere, smart marketers like you keep an eye on ever-changing influencer trends – like the one above.

Source: smartbrief