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As the value of the influencer marketing ecosystem globally has risen from  $1.7 billion in 2016 to $16.4 billion in 2022, Ogilvy Influence has released a report on six trends that will help shape how brands use influencers for marketing in 2023.

Tapping into groups and not just individuals

Today, we’re starting to see the resurgence of collaborations via platform native functionalities. Brands that are smart are leaning in, and finding that with collaboration comes diversity, reach and creative effectiveness. Effective partnerships are not simply the merging of two audiences – akin to purchasing two paid media personas - but the meeting of creative minds to merge communities into something new and more powerful. These collaborations, when done well, have the capacity to create a new entity for the brand. Rather than purchasing influence for a moment in time, by combining influencers you’re creating something new with your brand as the lynchpin between communities.

How to drive influence beyond the singular

  • Look for influence, not influencer

Shift the focus away from individuals and toward wherever influence is held amongst your demographic. This could be partnerships, communities, friendship groups, etc.

  • Pair new partners to create something new

Within influencer marketing, we’re often borrowing influence for a period of time, but collaborations give us the opportunity to create new communities from old allegiances through cross-pollination.

  • Take small budgets further with partnerships

Look to reach the macro, but by ingratiating yourself with micro-communities who spread information via word of mouth. Communities already joined by shared passions, who share those passions with your brand, can do the leg work for you. So go small by all means, but be focused.

Hyper-local influence to drive community

Years of lockdowns, political upheaval and social dislocation have altered audiences’ conceptions of community. Collaborating with influencers who share the experiences, values and interests of a micro audience – bolstered by their geographic proximity to the audience – is a powerful way for brands to create impact. As we head into economic uncertainty, harnessing the power of hyper-local, grassroots influence permits brands to circumvent mass-market sale models, and pinpoint their target audience in new, efficient and authentic ways to deliver a more streamlined and less fragile value exchange.

Three ways to get started with the grassroots influence

  • Champion the community

Look beyond physical spaces to identify target segments of your audience and tap into the conversations those communities are having online. Then, turn those insights into a content strategy with grassroots influencers serving as the content engine.

  • Micro target macro sale

Pairing geographic and interest-based influence is where it can really scale. Start by targeting a local community, before scaling your effort to a macro audience.

  • Rethink measurement

Grassroots influencers carry influence beyond reach and following. So, you’ll want to target the few to reach the many. Look at metrics like geographic penetration, engagement rate, and influence beyond reach and following.

Influence in Healthcare

The opportunities for digital influencers to play a role in health-associated businesses through content have grown hugely, paving the way for healthcare influence to be the next big growth area in influencer marketing. 40% of people said information found on social media affects how they coped with a chronic condition, their view of diet and exercise, and their selection of a physician — so influencer selection is critical. Celebrity or creator talents will always drive reach, providing their influence is rooted in authentic user experiences, but the real trust comes from regular community gatekeepers around specific illnesses and conditions. The rise of Medfluencer on video platforms like YouTube and TikTok now supports that, with HCP’s, Doctors, Dermatologists, and Nutritionists all adding qualified opinions to potential partnerships.

Start your journey

  • Put patient first

Understand the real need for your brand in the social space and your ability to change lives. Put people first, not the product, by providing clear information and contextualising its impact through other patients.

  • Commit to your community

Wellness performs so much stronger when the message is community-led. Your customers know what they need and who they trust. Leverage multiple profiles of qualified health professionals and experienced to provide value by leading the conversation and defining the next steps.

  • Redefine success

Brands that place priority on sales and social metrics become transparent very quickly through aggressive CTA tactics. Redefining your success metrics will drive long-term growth and loyalty by providing truly impactful value to the community.

  • Get out of the way

Trust influencers connect with their audience and articulate your brand in the most authentic way possible to demonstrate your real value.

I-Commerce: Full-funnel influence that goes beyond brand building

We live in a world where impressions are king, but maybe they shouldn’t be. In influencer marketing, most campaigns perform at the top of the funnel. We talk about impressions, engagements, and even consideration, but most brands just want to know, “how does this convert to ROI?”. That’s where influencer commerce (i-Commerce) comes in. As platforms evolve and it's easier to shop and scroll, the funnel as we know will change drastically, driven mostly by creators. From performance-based partnerships to affiliates supporting attribution models in the quest for influence ROI, 2023 is set to become the year of i-Commerce.

Activating people-led i-Commerce programme

  • Goals before anything

Define how working with influencers and creators will benefit brands to not miss 01 out on measurable true full-funnel success.

  • Lean into audience-first creative

Don’t assume consumers buy products from any content. Lean into audience insights and behaviours for smart strategies and authentic creatives.

  • Find your way in

From TikTok in-platform shopping opportunities to Amazon storefronts, ShopStyle, and affiliate programs, focus your delivery on individual objective-informed tactics to achieve specific goals.

  • Negotiate always

Creator payments shouldn’t be one size fits all. Affiliate models allow for performance-based payments or pay based on CPM, for example, and as this space continues to evolve, more payment structures will emerge.

  • Track everything

We know that commerce can mean many things, from purchase intent to sales. You should align measurement frameworks upfront according to your goals, track sales where possible, and utilise everything platform.

  • Test, Learn, Evolve

If a platform didn’t perform in terms of sales? Revisit your target audience's shopping behaviour and re-strategise, and remember that budgets can change even during a campaign.

AI influencer becomes real

In 2015, there were just 9 recorded AI influencers - today there are over 200. Now is the time for AI technology to scale, evolve, and provide extraordinary new opportunities. The enhanced creative possibilities, personalised storytelling, connections, real-time engagement and lower costs all contribute to their rising appeal.

Why AI - Why Now

  • Personalities beyond chatbot

Invest in the appeal and creativity behind your characters’ stories to relate to audiences ― elevating human interest and connection in day-to-day conversations.

  • Solve problems and not push products

AI Influencers complement a spectrum of human influencers to solve problems, not push products. The humanising real impact is achieved by using empathy to meet your audiences’ challenges.

  • Timeless complement

AI Influencers have a role outside of one-off posts and conversational novelty. They are a platform, not a tactic — and they’re not going anywhere.

  • Multi-faceted capabilities

We can create an AI influencer who starts off as a brand ambassador – before evolving into an artist, then a consultant, and finally a brand advocate - enabling full-funnel brand influence.

Points to remember while using AI influencers

AI influencers should be authentic to the brand. AI influencers should have both inspirational and aspirational appeal to them. Brands must have a strategy designed to amplify the AI Influencer. An AI Influencer complements — but does not replace — traditional influencer engagements. Identify the unique role that AI Influencer owns ― a role fueled by cultural and societal trends.

Subscription influencer  – For your eyes only

Influence revenue streams have hugely diversified over the past two years. Gone are the days of influencers relying on brand deals as their only source of income – instead, even those without agents to help strategise are looking to subscription services, ad revenue, and self-made products to make a living. But this change in how we consume influencer content is not just due to platforms, but consumer mindset shifts. As millennials have stepped away from the spotlight and we’ve migrated into a Gen Z world, we’re seeing the removal of hidden advertising. Disclosure is no longer a dirty word and with that level of openness, nurtured by growing up with the internet and social media, has come the renewed understanding that where influencers provide content – audiences pay. Indeed knowing that influencer content is 3x more engaged with than brand content, arguably consumers are making a more informed choice of how they want to be used to pay for their entertainment.

How to use subscription influence in 2023

  • Build for authenticity and not ads

Continue building long-term partnerships to drive authenticity, getting yourself into that higher tier of content with those influencers already working with subscription models. The content behind the paywall is deemed the most authentic and least AD-heavy, so we need to be ingrained in their daily lives to feature.

  • Stay true to the creator

Remember that subscription influencers have alternative revenue streams than brand partnerships. This allows them to be more selective with their partners and can be the basis of a much stronger, more authentic relationship.

  • Reep what you sow

Want to develop stronger relationships and know what your influencers are talking about? Be a subscriber! Invest in them and they’ll invest in you.

“The takeaway from these trends is that influence now has a firm seat at the table. The reason influencer marketing works now is the reason I first believed in it: because people trust people more than brands. Influence allows brands to connect with audiences in a way no other marketing can – with authenticity. At Ogilvy, our process goes beyond the transactional norms of the industry. Instead, we lead the industry in defining new standards and innovations, dissolving the barriers between paid, owned and earned media, and connecting brands to real voices,” said Rahul Titus, Global Head of Influence Ogilvy.