What’s next for social and influencer marketing?

Have you met the latest generation of influencer?

The ubiquity of social media combined with pandemic boredom supercharged content creation, giving rise to a booming creator economy.

Creators have become a staple of marketing budgets, giving brands the chance to connect with their audiences in new ways. Influencer marketing spending in the U.S. is forecasted to reach $4 billion this year.

So we attended Ad Age’s online conference last month, to give you what you need to know about the latest in social and influencer marketing.

The event brought together creators, brands, and agencies, to focus on how marketers think about and use creator content. They met to examine what marketers need to know about the booming creator economy, to discuss how they are navigating it, and to understand what’s next.

Here are the top insights and takeaways from the event.

Session 1) How TikTok is changing the creator economy, and what’s coming next

In this session, Adrienne Lahens, global head of operations for TikTok’s creator marketing solutions, discussed the platform’s evolution and Creator Marketplace.

She outlined the different ways that brands and creators find each other on the platform:

  • Brands reach out to creators, after having landscaped and sourced relevant alternatives.
  • Both sides use the new ‘open application campaign’ function. This is where brands draft creative briefs on the platform and creators can apply to participate.
  • They’re working on a recommendation tool, where TikTok uses AI to scan drafts and recommend best-matched creators for companies. There is, however, no set deadline for the launch.

There have been big changes in the creator marketing landscape on TikTok since it launched 5 years ago. Between the 2020 pandemic and a series of cultural movements, the influencer landscape — and digital communication as a whole — has changed.

Adrienne identified three key changing trends:

  1. Marketing on TikTok was initially all about aesthetics and aspirational content. People’s aspirational lives rather than their more authentic lives, in other words. She connects this with the market dominance of Instagram, which featured highly glamorised and filtered content on the platform.
  2. About three years ago, there was another turn on TikTok. This time, it was all about data and insights and their use in finding new ways for brands and creators to connect with the audience. This was when measurement became big in the creator marketing industry – a focus that lives on to this day.
  3. Gone are the days of overproduced and airbrushed content ruling the day. For brands looking to prevail with both audiences and algorithms, authenticity is key nowadays. Users want an unperfected, in-the-moment look at real people’s

Key takeaway:

We see that brands who can figure out how to tap into being authentic and building an intimate relationship with their audience will win – whether by using Lo-fi, mobile-shot content or partnering with the most relevant influencers.

Session 2) The power of a creator class, and how to build one

The competitive edge of relatability is clear – micro-influencers can build relationships with your audience on your behalf like no other. The session speakers, Candice Beck, Emma Ferrara and Michael Ramirez, emphasised how valuable creators are for lead generation, to help brands stay top of mind and to build brand awareness.

Following this trend, brands are increasingly forming entire collaborations around influencers who have managed to capture the eyes of their target audiences.

To build a successful relationship with a creator, she advised brands to:

  • Actively recognise, pursue and appreciate micro-influencers. Emerging content creators are expected to dominate the market as brand ambassadors in a few years and so shouldn’t be dismissed for their modest following today.
  • It’s important to have an extremely collaborative relationship with your creators since they see sides of the brand that you might not. This means they can identify and express customer needs in new, creative ways on your behalf. To get the most from them, you need to put your trust in them.
  • Make sure to take learnings from past partnerships. Assessing how well it worked, who and how far their influence reached, what tangible commercial results the company got from the partnership will help you navigate future partnerships and optimise your influence marketing going forward.

Key takeaway:

So go forth and carefully align your brand. 2023 will be defined by brands transforming their marketing strategies to prioritise organic content.

Session 3) Measuring creator success

Whereas traditional marketing had easy-to-measure results following a campaign launch, influencer marketing is more fluid and difficult to measure in numbers. But doing so is the key to making sure that you are spending your money wisely and maximising your ROI.

In this session, Casey De Palma McCartney and Kristi O’Brien were asked to how brands could judge whether an influencer campaign was successful. Here were their top answers.

Q: “Is it useful to have a standardised engagement metric or will they always be adapted to the project?”

A: “In reality, you need both. One should be individualised and a second should be applied across all campaigns in order to judge which one was most successful.”


Q: “What’s the baseline engagement to expect from an influencer?”

A: “This has changed a lot over time. There is no simple, set answer – it depends on their expertise, the size of their audience and many other factors.”

Key takeaway:

Knowing how to measure influencer marketing efforts is the key to getting the most out of your influencer collaboration efforts. It may not be necessary to report on every one of these KPIs for each influencer campaign, but it is important to at least track the results of your collaboration in some way so you can know if you’re spending time and money as efficiently as you could be. The KPIs you use should depend on the goals you’ve set – there’ no universal standard.

Hope that’s useful.

We’ll keep on monitoring green sprouts and mainstream trends so you don’t have to.

That way, you’ll have front-row seats to how the markets and consumer expectations are moving.

By Louise Alestam 

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