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The year 2020 has seen its fair share of life-changing events. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way the whole world is living, working and planning for the future. Racial reform is receiving well-deserved attention across the globe. The Olympics were postponed, major league sports took a break, and homeschooling has taken on a whole new meaning and more.

From a marketing standpoint, brands are still marketing their products and services, and consumers are needing what they offer. But the approach to marketing has changed to be more authentic and consumer-need-focused as well as sensitive to the issues people around the world are dealing with. Influencer marketing, when done right, is proving to be a perfect fit for what marketers need as 2020 continues. Take a look at some top suggestions of how to successfully navigate the current trends for the future of influencer marketing.

Increase Authenticity With Storytelling

Storytelling is a proven marketing technique that’s making its way into influencer marketing now. Influencers are natural storytellers, and the approach draws an audience in and makes them feel more connected to a brand. Good storytelling as it applies to marketing your brand is contagious, inspiring, easy to understand, emotive, inclusive and believable. Add authenticity to your brand that consumers will relate to by using influencers to create examples like these:

  • Tell the story of how your brand got its start, the bumps in the road it experienced along the way, examples of preserving and ultimate successes.
  • Share testimonials of satisfied customers to provide social proof for your brand.
  • Interview company executives and employees to focus on the human aspect of your brand.
  • Educate your audience with how-to videos on assembling, using and caring for your product.
  • Create a brand persona that emulates the same characteristics of your target audience and use this character in a humorous or emotive way in influencer posts.

Go Live to Connect With Your Audience

The stay-at-home measures that came with the coronavirus pandemic resulted in more brands and influencers going live on social media. With most of the world at home, brands had a captivated audience and provided content that was helpful, entertaining and inspirational. This trend is likely to continue through 2020 as it allows brands to connect with consumers at a more authentic level.

Live video — such as on Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — is unedited, raw content. This helps your audience connect to your brand in a way that’s more down-to-earth, unpolished and human. Live video also improves your positioning in news feed algorithms. Ask your influencers to produce live content on anything from product launches to special announcements, unboxings, Q&As and event coverage.

Create a TikTok Challenge to Increase Brand Awareness

TikTok is seeing a dramatic uptick in usage in 2020, increasing its average viewing time by 23 percent from January to March. Marketers are also seizing this trend by engaging TikTok influencers to partner with their brands, including well-known companies like Target, EA Sports, Ralph Lauren and Walmart. TikTok influencer marketing reaches the Gen Z audience, as well as an increasing number from older generations. And the short 15- to 60-second video clips are highly appealing for viewers and marketers alike.

TikTok challenges are proving to be an excellent way to increase brand awareness. Have your influencer create a challenge and provide an incentive for users to recreate the challenge. With each video a user posts, they’ll be entered into a contest to win free merchandise or a gift certificate, for instance. Challenges can be used to spread a message as well or support a social cause, connecting values like empathy, responsibility and charity to your brand’s name.

Activate Micro-Influencers to Boost Engagements

The year 2019 saw the start of a fading out of celebrity influencers and the rise of micro- and nano-influencers. This trend is continuing as 2020 progresses, due in large part to these smaller influencers connecting at a closer level with audience members. With smaller follower counts, they’re able to have higher engagements by responding to comments, holding Q&As and developing closer relationships with people.

This benefits brands in a big way. Viewers are more likely to trust the opinion of a nano- or micro-influencer and follow their advice on product decisions. Engaging these smaller influencers is also more cost-effective for brands as their fees are generally lower but content doesn’t suffer in quality. Look to partner with several nano- and micro-influencers to reach a wider audience while benefiting from higher engagements.

Use Employee Influencers to Validate Product Quality

A company’s employees are often an excellent resource for nano- and micro-influencers. When an employee backs a brand’s products or services, viewers take notice of the genuineness. Employees have an in-depth knowledge of what the brand offers and can tell their personal stories in a way others can’t.

To implement a successful employee influencer marketing program, make sure your company culture is positive and supportive. Give employees parameters of dos and don’ts, but let them be creative in the content they share so that it’s truly authentic. Consumers are looking more and more for truthfulness, not to be sold to, and to know your brand cares about the things that they care about.

Increase ROI by Paying for Performance

As influencer marketing has grown in popularity, the number of creators hoping to become influencers is also increasing. This means you have a lot more creators to sort through, and the level of quality can vary from outstanding to wanting. One way to make sure your brand is getting the quality it’s paying for is to use pay-for-performance types of agreements with influencers. You might contract to pay-per-click, pay-per-view or pay-per-sale, for example. Set equitable rates so that your influencer is motivated to see the campaign through and produce high-quality content.

Save Time, Effort and Money With Influencer Marketing Platforms

On that same note of getting what you pay for and increasing your ROI, more brands are turning to influencer marketing platforms in 2020 to help manage their campaigns. Quality platforms allow you to discover talent more quickly because of the large database and sort features they provide. Platforms also provide samples of the influencer’s content, follower counts, audience demographics, niche specialties, price rates and a variety of additional helpful information.

Having all of this information in one spot saves a great deal of valuable time and effort for brands that want to do their influencer marketing in-house. The best platforms also help you manage your influencers’ content creation and pay as well as analyze the success of your campaigns. If your brand is looking to engage with more than a handful of influencers, it may be time to turn to an influencer marketing platform to help you increase your bottom line.