The future of influencer marketing is bright. That was the resounding messaging at the WPP Open event in Toronto in early October, where H+K facilitated a lively conversation with industry-leading experts about the current and future state of the industry. With voices from top-tier creator management, platforms like Snapchat and TikTok and a veteran consumer brand, we discussed best practices, the realities of the industry, and how we can actively engage audiences, who are increasingly becoming savvier about how partnerships with creators are approached.

Less than a decade ago influencer marketing was in its infancy and future unclear. Today, it’s a core part of the marketing mix. Observing the momentum and how the industry has expanded in the last year alone, it’s no surprise that the global market size is expected to reach $22.2 billion U.S. by 2025—more than double what it was in 20201. Increasingly, creators are pushing the boundaries of what inspiring content means as they seek to share their category expertise with an engaged audience. This positions them to play a pivotal role in influencing on every social channel and expanding to various consumer touchpoints as they are integrated into wider advertising campaigns, and even with their own brands available for purchase either in collaboration with an existing brand or on their own terms.

The key takeaway: With thoughtful strategy, planning and budgeting, brands have an opportunity to align themselves with the credibility and influence that creators have fostered with their audiences, and with a third of Canadians surveyed saying that they have made a purchase decision from an influencer’s recommendations2, this can have a massive impact on business results.

As leaders in the influencer marketing space, both locally and globally, here’s what is informing our planning discussions at H+K for 2023:

  • Investing in long-term collaborative partnerships where a creator’s perspective and creativity are seamlessly integrated with key messages will reap greater value over time
  • Nano and localized influencers are moving from a trend to table stakes, connecting brands with niche communities in authentic ways
  • When working with creators, especially those from marginalized communities, brands need to ensure their values are aligned and visibly brought to life not only in collaboration with all partners but on their own channels too
  • Brands need to be part of the social ecosystem by investing in creating more owned content, repurposing content created by both paid and UGC creators and actively engaging with their influencer partners in real time on more than the contracted deliverables—community management is key!

Here is what we predict will take the lead in creating thought-provoking and entertaining content in 2023:

  • Identifying creators according to interest-basic topics – in combination with base-line demographics – that align with their brand (or product, etc.) to maximize investment
  • Taking risks with shop-tainment! Brands will experiment with live streaming and shoppable events for that in-the-moment experience
  • Developing a hyper-focused strategy around UGC content to fuel brand-owned channels
  • Prioritizing lo-fi content over polish and perfection, and letting go of commercial-level expectations in the right moments

1 HypeAuditor, State of Influencer Marketing Report, 2022

2 Advertising Standards Council, Caddle, 2021