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As the first step of the marketing funnel, brand awareness is an essential focus for brands. It’s a potential customer’s first exposure to the brand, and if done correctly, increasing brand awareness will lead to increased sales. It’s so important that 65 percent of marketers measure the success of their influencer marketing programs by the increase in brand awareness it’s produced. To help you meet your marketing goals, we’ve identified 13 influencer marketing trends and mapped out ways you can use them to boost brand awareness.

1. Shifting Toward Nano- and Micro-Influencers

Influencers with smaller follower counts typically have higher engagement rates, which makes them highly attractive to marketers. While they don’t initially reach as many people as macro- or mega-influencers, the audience they do reach trusts their endorsements of products. Nano- and micro-influencers are more relatable than their celebrity counterparts. Partner with nano- and micro-influencers to increase brand awareness among these devoted audiences.

2. The Rise in Brand Ambassador Programs

Brands are also seeing the benefits of engaging influencers on a long-term basis as opposed to one-off campaigns. While influencer marketing boosts brand awareness, brand ambassadors keep that momentum going and build it for the long haul.

3. Merging Content, Influencer and Social Media Marketing

More marketers are seeing the power of blending the best of all three of these marketing strategies, instead of treating them as separate entities. Brands are creating their own blog content and maintaining social media accounts while engaging influencers to promote their brand as well. One way to capitalize on this trend is to ask influencers to create guest blog posts for your website and promote them on their social channels. You might also arrange a social media takeover for a short time by an influencer to boost brand awareness.

4. Seeking Out Influencers With Similar Values

Instead of gravitating toward influencers solely for their popular status, brands are looking for influencers whose values match their own. This not only helps their target audience resonate with the influencers, but also helps prevent a poorly matched influencer negatively impacting the brand’s reputation. Actively vet influencers by reviewing past content and identifying compatible values before partnering with them to ensure you have a good match.

5. Increasing Regulation Builds Trust in Your Brand

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made it clear that influencers and brands must follow its guidelines when posting content on social media sites. This is a clear advantage to brands, as consumers are looking for companies they can trust. They can spot influencers who are not genuine and fail to disclose their relationship with a brand. Ensure that your influencers are staying within the boundaries of FTC guidelines to win over the trust of your target audience and increase brand awareness positively.

6. Using Employees and Customers as Influencers

Social proof is highly effective in building brand awareness. Brands that are using employees as influencers and posting user-generated content are seeing the advantage of their genuine endorsements. Harness the knowledge and enthusiasm these two groups of people have about your brand to reach a wider audience.

7. Creating More Video and Audio Content

Eighty-one percent of businesses now use video as a marketing tool, and mobile video watch time rises by 100 percent every year. Concerning audio media, 51 percent of Americans have listened to a podcast, of which there are over 700,000 actively being broadcast. Partner with influencers who use audio and video content to boost brand awareness with these highly popular types of media. Examples include YouTube, Twitch and TikTok influencers as well as podcasters.

8. Writing Long-Form Social Media Captions

Look for influencers who write longer captions for their social media posts, or ask them to do this if they don’t already. These lengthier descriptions allow readers to get to know the influencers better as they share personal stories and insights, thus developing trust. This technique also lets audience members learn more about your brand’s product or services, thereby increasing brand awareness.

9. Reaching Millennials and Gen Z With Gaming Influencers

Gaming influencers are rising in popularity as the esports market around the world is catapulting in popularity. The industry is expected to reach a value of $1.79 billion by 2022, and it’s one of the fastest-growing industries across the globe. Brands who partner with gaming influencers, including female gamers are set to increase brand awareness, especially among the Gen Z and millennial crowd who are their biggest audience.

10. Trying Out CGI Influencers

It will be interesting to see how long this trend lasts, but at the moment computer-generated imagery (CGI) influencers are sparking attention. Brands have the opportunity to create their own influencers using CGI, or they can partner with existing CGI influencers. A recent example is WHO partnering with CGI influencer Knox Frost to spread the word about safe practices during the coronavirus pandemic. Brands can partner with CGI influencers that complement their values to increase brand awareness, especially among millennials and Gen Z.

11. Partnering With Twitch Influencers

Live-streaming gaming platform Twitch is steadily gaining popularity, not just among gamers but also with new audiences as the platform is adding a variety of content. Non-gaming brands are partnering with Twitch influencers to gain exposure with new audience members. As with all influencers, make sure the Twitch influencers your brand connects with shares your values and is passionate about genuinely promoting your brand.

12. Embracing Superior Influencer Marketing ROI

When influencer marketing was in its infancy, it was difficult for marketers to determine if the strategy produced a good ROI. After years of case studies, marketers see influencer marketing as having a superior ROI to print advertising, radio and online banner ads, according to an IZEA study. Marketers can be more confident now in devoting larger parts of their marketing budgets to influencer marketing, which is proven to boost brand awareness. Nearly half of consumers rely heavily on influencer recommendations, and 60 percent of teens trust influencer recommendations over celebrity endorsements.

13. Using Storytelling to Boost Brand Awareness

While storytelling has been around forever, its importance in influencer marketing is more and more evident. Not only have platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube adopted stories features, but more brands are using influencers to tell the story of their brand. This includes its history as well as its values and mission. Use storytelling to increase brand awareness by drawing in the reader through text, audio and video, creating a connection between the audience and the brand.