What brands need to know about influencer marketing in 2023

For brands eager to maintain a robust approach to influencer marketing, here are five trends that brands need to pay attention to.

Influencer marketing has become a staple for many brands, from brands in beauty to those in travel. This comes as little surprise, given how influencers are often key in shaping purchase decisions and lifestyle choices. In fact, a study by Nielsen shows that 80% of social media users in Asia who follow influencers are likely to purchase products recommended by them. A closer look at the Asia Pacific region further reveals the importance of influencers as consumers value authentic and non-invasive ways of receiving information about products and services.

Influencer marketing strategies will have to evolve as new trends emerge in 2023 and this will be even more important as brands strive to build trust and remind top of mind. For brands eager to maintain a robust approach to influencer marketing, here are five trends that brands need to pay attention to.

1. Long-form content makes a return.

The popularity of short-form content grew exponentially in recent years, prompting social media giants such as YouTube and Instagram to launch their own versions of short-form videos, such as Shorts and Reels respectively. However, short-form content may not dominate the field entirely in the year ahead as platforms such as TikTok show signs of veering towards longer content formats. The popularity of podcasts also points towards this renewed interest. Consumers are keen on educational and engaging content, beyond content that merely entertains, and longer videos might be more effective in delivering what consumers need.

While this does not herald the death of short-form content, marketers will need to be mindful of the evolving preferences of their target audience and take into consideration the appeal of different content formats. Influencers will have to diversify and adjust their content strategy to reach audiences who are gravitating towards longer content forms.

2. Livestream shopping will go hand in hand with shopping festivals for optimal results.

Livestream shopping will be another trend to watch. In China, two-thirds of consumers have made a purchase via a live shopping session and live shopping will only grow in popularity in 2023. Research from McKinsey indicates that sales initiated via live commerce could account for as much as 10 to 20 percent of all e-commerce by 2026. With brands eager to win over customers in the online space, influencer marketing should be deployed in tandem with highly anticipated shopping festivals, to gain further traction and drive conversion rates. Widely celebrated across Southeast Asia, shopping festivals serve as an ideal gateway for aspiring brands to amplify the reach of the influencers they work with.

In China, Nativex was tasked to promote a mass-market product line by a renowned Japanese multinational personal care company. To increase product exposure and build the brand’s reputation, Nativex worked with Li Jiaqi, one of the biggest beauty streamers in China, to do a product showcase in a livestream session during the 618 Shopping Festival, one of the biggest festivals in China. The branded videos attracted over 20 million views across seven mainstream platforms in China and amassed more than 120,000 engagements.

Suki Lin, Regional Director, Asia Pacific, Nativex

3. Influencers are finding their niche.

Consumers are becoming more discerning about who they follow on social media, and seek influencers who share content about topics that they are interested in. As such, influencers curate their content to carve out a niche, such as sustainable fashion and high-end beauty, to better relate to their followers. Niche influencers receive higher engagement despite speaking to a smaller audience – since their community is already passionate about similar topics, they are more likely to become advocates. As the influencer market becomes more saturated, such influencers who are able to create a tighter-knit community will be valuable in helping brands reach specific audiences.

Nativex recently worked with beauty and skincare brand Yours to increase brand awareness in the US market. By partnering with a curated range of mid-tiered influencers who specialised in producing high-quality cosmetics content, videos from the campaign were viewed over 3.3 million times and generated more than 137,000 likes.

4. Influencers need creative control.

A key appeal of influencer marketing lies in the connection influencers have with their followers, as they have already established themselves as authentic and trustworthy digital tastemakers. While consumers are growing accustomed to sponsored content, overly promotional posts might taint the trust between influencers and their followers. Brands have to be mindful to give influencers room for their personality and creativity to come through, so influencers can preserve their authenticity and relevance.

Taking a collaborative approach over a prescriptive, top-down approach when working with influencers will be important in giving the influencers more creative control in the ideation and creation process. While giving influencers a clear brief is important in conveying your brand’s key messages, allowing influencers to have free reign over their content gives them more autonomy in the creative direction that the partnership is taking and this can in turn contribute to a long-lasting and successful partnership.

5. Transparency will continue to win over consumers.

The relationship between influencers and the brand has to be authentic and relevant, especially in a landscape where consumers are more discerning than ever. With influencers becoming more relatable to the everyday consumer, more so than traditional celebrity endorsements, brands will need to guard their relationship with the influencers they work with.

Influencers who are transparent about brand sponsorships, and are unafraid to give objective reviews tend to do well with the audience as well as this points towards their transparency and legitimacy. Armed with an understanding of their audience demographics, brands can pick influencers who appeal to consumers who are of the target age, gender, location, and purchase patterns. While influencer marketing is not new to many brands, the landscape is constantly evolving as a result of new social media platforms and changing consumer preferences. Brands have to understand how the relationship between influencers and consumers will change in the year ahead and adjust their influencer marketing strategy to maximise mileage with their target audience.