Over a year into the pandemic, brands and consumers alike are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel as in-person activities resume. As brands and consumers resume a more normal outlook on life, how will we take the positive parts and leave the negative behind?
In this virtual event, we will reflect on how the influencer marketing industry has changed over the last year, and how brands adapted to face the moment. We’ll also discuss consumer behavior changes and how they will impact brands moving forward in a post-pandemic world.
BWG Connect and Mavrck invite you to participate in an interactive discussion with your peers, exploring this shifting landscape.
As always, there will be no sales pitches and there is no cost to join.
VP, Influencer Marketing Center of Excellence at Mavrck
Rachael Cihlar is the VP of Mavrck’s Influencer Marketing Center of Excellence. Mavrck is an all-in-one influencer marketing platform for enterprise consumer brands creating social proof at scale. Rachael has been in the influencer marketing space for almost a decade and has contributed significantly to its growth.
Director of Brand Partnerships at Mavrck
Quinn Delahanty is the Director of Brand Partnerships at Mavrck. Quinn comes from a media background, having worked previously for Roam Media and NBCUniversal Media. Quinn has extensive experience building brand partnerships at both large media companies and small, digital startups. At Mavrck, she helps influencers amplify their platform and grow their brand.
Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect
BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
Like most industries, influencer marketing has changed in the last 15 months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. But as restrictions are easing — especially in the United States — brands and influencers are looking to shift their strategies and adapt to a new normal. So the big questions for brands to answer: what has changed about influencer marketing, and what does a post-pandemic influencer marketing world look like?
Firstly, COVID-19 increased the demand for social proof, which was evident in increased engagement rates on sponsored content over time. And what this tells brands is that people look to social media as a source of information and inspiration, and influencer marketing has proven itself in that regard. Want to learn how to level up your influencer marketing strategies?
In this virtual event, Billy Restrepo sits down with Rachael Cihlar, the VP of Mavrck’s Influencer Marketing Center of Excellence, and Quinn Delahanty, the Director of Brand Partnerships at Mavrck. They discuss how influencer marketing has grown since the pandemic, what brands should be doing coming out of the pandemic, what to expect in the coming days, and how to leverage new social media and influencer marketing opportunities.
Billy Restrepo 0:18
Alright, everybody, so afternoon, my name is Billy Restrepo, I'm the Vice President here at BWG Connect. We're a community of networking knowledge sharing, we say on the top of the latest trends and strategies in the digital landscape on the same topic comes up over and over again, we host an event like this. So our overall goal is bringing peers together to share perspectives, insights, best practices and success stories. So before we get started, just a couple of housekeeping items. So we want to be courteous of everyone's time, I will end this a couple of minutes before the end of the hour. We also wanted to be interactive educational informational, as possible, so please don't hesitate to jump in with any questions or chat them to me or if you prefer, email me and Billy, Billy@BWGConnect.com. So that being said, let's jump into it. So we have our great friend from Mavrck who are going through some interesting topic. It's essentially influencer marketing in a post pandemic world. With that I'm gonna hand it off to our great friends at Mavrck, introduce yourself and the dice is yours.
Rachael Cihlar 1:11
Thank you so much, Billy. We are excited to be here and to talk about influencer marketing. And in particular, what's really happened in the wake of the pandemic. And really what has changed a lot of our world in all aspects, but also specific to our industry. So today, we're going to talk about not new, just normal influencer marketing in a post pandemic world. And so over the last 14 to 15 months or so, our world really changed fundamentally in response to a global pandemic. And while we all feel that acutely in our everyday lives, it's also true for influencer marketing specifically. And as restrictions are easing, especially in the United States. brands and influencers are also shifting their strategies to adapt back to what could be somewhat normal. But it's also changed in a lot of ways in response to COVID. So today, myself and Quinn are excited to talk about those changes and how this next phase might look for influencer marketing. So just a little intro of both of us. My name is Rachael Cihlar, and I lead Mavrck’s Center of Excellence, really, we are a team of experts. And I've been doing influencer marketing for about 10 years. So which is crazy to believe, you know, pretty much as long as the industry has been around. So I've seen how it's abdun flowed and really tremendous change that we've even seen just in the last year. And I'm joined by Quinn, who is our Director of Brand Partnerships Quinn, do you want to introduce yourself?
Quinn Delahanty 2:44
Yeah, Rachael. Hi, thanks so much. Good to be here, everybody. as Rachael mentioned, I am Director of Brand Partnerships, looking after some of the awesome brands within Mavrck's portfolio, have a big media background been in digital media for the last, oh gosh, about six or seven years, worked in work for NBC for quite some time, and then shifted over to a startup based out of Boulder, Colorado, and really kind of just wanted to ride the tidal wave of influencer marketing and be on the emerging end of things. So I found Mavrck, and I've been here for I think, going on about six months now. So happy to be here.
Rachael Cihlar 3:22
Awesome. Thanks, Quinn. And we're so excited to have you here and bring your media expertise. And, you know, you kind of alluded to what we do at Mavrck, which is, you know, we're an all in one influencer marketing platform to help enterprise brands automate and scale their social proof programs. So just a little quick bit about us. We work with influencers across the spectrum of influence, to create content, to amplify that content and to syndicate it to sample products and write reviews about brands and their products. And we work across many different verticals, with influencers and audiences of all demographics. So we run 1000s of programs across all social networks, which allows brands to reach their target consumers to drive sales where they are, which is social. So jumping into the meat of our presentation, how did the pandemic accelerate the growth of influencer marketing? Now, we have asked our own brands that we work with and those who are in the industry, how it has impacted their influencer marketing practice. And what we found is that some brands double down on influencer marketing as an avenue to get their message out to consumers during the pandemic, while others maybe didn't have that same opportunity due to their own internal constraints, or due to customer impacts, whether that be on in person shopping, or travel or on their own personal budgets. And so we're going to talk about that throughout our presentation. So let's dive into the impacts of the pandemic and And how it really accelerated the growth of influencer marketing as a whole. So when information was changing daily, and we all flocked to different forms of media, if you think back to like March and April of last year, especially in the United States, creators became a go to resource for consumers. Now, sometimes this was in regard to COVID, for example, how to give back or help those who are in need. But creators also provided us resources to manage that new normal that we're all faced with. It was a lot of time at home. A lot of us were even facing challenges like keeping kids busy or becoming teachers, ourselves. And at home learning, maybe we're maybe looking for ways to work out because our gym was closed. And so we took yoga classes with influencers through live streaming, we learned how to cook with them with limited pantry items that maybe we couldn't find at the grocery store, we found ways to help those in our communities, who are specially impacted or vulnerable due to the pandemic. So creators really became those go to resources, and a way to kind of distract us or keep us entertained or shed light on what we could do during this time that really turned all of our worlds upside down. Quinn and I don't know if you have any anecdotes about like, Did you go to any creators during this time or I don't know your you love to do outdoorsy things like Were there any creators who you followed, who maybe kept you feeling inspired during this time, even when things maybe looked a little bit bleak?
Quinn Delahanty 6:34
Oh my gosh, so many examples. I think for me, I'm kind of a personal fitness buff. And when the gyms closed down, I didn't know what I was going to do. So I think like a lot of other people and a lot of my peers, we got creative with it. So I found myself kind of in my league, my living room live streaming workouts from my favorite, my favorite Instagrammers that, you know, would lead hit workouts or strength stuff. And, you know, we just got resourceful. In fact, it was funny. In this, we're not influencers, me and my friends by any means. But one of my good girlfriends, she started hosting thing, a live live stream with all of her friends every Tuesday. And so some of the girls would pick up wine bottles, and, you know, try to just get creative with it. So I think that sense of community was kind of threaded throughout all this. And we definitely saw it show up in in creators for sure.
Rachael Cihlar 7:24
Yeah, oh, I love that idea. You know, I did see somebody, even the we work with some wine brands here at Mavrck and they hosted, like, live streamed wine tastings for everyone who was at home, and you could order their wine and then try it alongside these influencers, who are also experts in the industry. So that's such a fun idea and really just emblematic of what we all resource, like use our resources, through creators to keep busy to stay entertained, and also to maybe have some uplifting content too. And so with that COVID-19 really increased the demand for social proof. And this is evidenced by the increase in engagement rates on sponsored COVID over, excuse me sponsored content over time. So in fact, as you can see here, for much of 2020, engagement went up to 70%, following when you when the US went into lockdown. And this was all because we were spending more time on our phones, whether it be for news for distractions, or for knowledge. And both creators and consumers took advantage of the abundance of content that was being created by influencers, who are also figuring out how to cope as the rest of the nation and the world was. And so now we've seen this not quite increased as much with acceleration over the last few months, especially as people are getting vaccines and places are opening up. But I think what it tells us is that we do look to social as a source of information inspiration and influencer marketing isn't going anywhere because it really proved itself especially during this time. And as in person options for shopping for both necessities, like groceries or even nice to have, like maybe you wanted a tie dye sweatsuit, like I did, as all of those options came to a halt. influencers helped usher in the shift from retail to retail. And now this was something we've been seeing over time, but really was accelerated by the pandemic. And so according to data from IBM's retail index, they estimate that the pandemic has accelerated the shift away from physical stores, to digital shopping by roughly five years. That's incredible, in my opinion, and influencers have really contributed to brands shifting their budgets to digital at a more rapid clip, especially as those other alternatives were not available, or maybe they didn't feel as a viable an option to us as consumers. So think about how a lot of us maybe didn't feels comfortable going into grocery stores to do our regular shopping. So we use things like instacart, or whole food shopping through Amazon, or, you know, we didn't feel comfortable going to the mall or to other stores in person. And so we ordered online from our favorite stores. And I don't know about you, but I look to influencers for inspiration, whether it be like something that I need from the grocery store, so I can make banana bread, because my favorite creator was making it alongside everyone else in the world, excuse me, or in the US maybe. Or if it was, again, that tied I slept to that I really wanted because everyone looks so comfy at home, and so did my favorite creators and I needed to be that company, especially since I was working from home and spending all my time at home. And so we all flock to those digital forms to purchase these items, whether they were necessities or not accelerated by those influencers, who were showcasing brands that we either knew about or maybe we're hearing about for the first time. And so in addition to consumer demand for online shopping, there was also a demand and growth of create for good campaigns. Now create for good campaigns are really campaigns that are not necessarily focused on buying something or on getting your brand messaging across, but really drawing you to a better message and to something that is a little bit more helpful in this time. Now, these varied from informational campaigns meant to spread information about the pandemic, or resources available to people from charitable efforts to donate to those in needs, or even to the role that brands could play in driving awareness. It also meant that we saw uplifting content that helps keep people inspired or positive or encouraged in what it was a devastating time for so many influencers and sponsored content could also provide some of that reprieve for consumers. We've talked about this with some of the brands that we've worked with in the past and that we currently work with. And they've found that when you pair this create for good aspect with your brand and something that you can offer uniquely, whether it's through a partnership you have with a nonprofit, or with empowering creators to maybe give your brand's products to someone in their community or to an organization it performs well. But it also creates an even better lasting impression of your brand and of that content with your key audience. And so it's really a win win for everyone. And something that we love helping brands to do, which is infuse this create for good messaging and opportunities within your overarching influencer marketing strategy. Because it doesn't just need to happen during the pandemic. It's something that can happen all year long. And as we mentioned earlier, throughout all this, we saw some brands and industry suffer with the changing economy and circumstances. This included brands who are in the travel and tourism industry, or even smaller brands who no longer had that budget for influencer marketing, for example, we saw in travel and hospitality influencers could no longer go to these venues or go to some of these attractions, or stay at these hotels and so they were forced to come up with new ideas. And as a outside of that some of those brands who may be specialized in hospitality couldn't also focus around content with influencers because it just wasn't available to them anymore. But we also saw some brands grow and become more inherent to the consumer experience. For example, eCommerce and delivery brands became vital to consumer shopping. So we mentioned grocery delivery and food delivery. We also spent more time at home where more consumers grew their affinity for cooking so i i personally baked some banana bread, but there was also the sourdough bread craze. And other hobbies could also be enjoyed from home I've seen influencers and creators pick up needlepoint or you know, maybe you join TikTok because of that and became a dancer. So some industries really did suffer, but it still allowed some to soar because they were given the opportunity to become even more integral to our lives when we were consuming so much digital content. So Quinn, I'd love to hear you know, trends from the last year what do you think is gonna stay? What do you think might change?
Quinn Delahanty 14:26
I love it. Yeah, thanks so much, Rachael. I think it's really no doubt that the pandemic has brought some some really massive shifts to consumers habits. And I think we saw trends come and go and I think some will stick around and have that kind of lasting sticking power way, way past the lasting stages of the pandemic. You want to go to the next slide for me. Thank you. Um, so first off, were predicting that industries that will industries that were hit hard by the pandemic will make a strong comeback. In fact, there are Seeing a strong resurgence in this respect. Take, for example, travel and tourism. As the world opens up, people are booking flights in droves. And as immediate result of that, airline flight prices are absolutely skyrocketing. I know, I just tried to book flights for an upcoming Bachelorette. And it was just like pulling teeth trying to find a flight that suited my schedule, just crazy. I think we predict that this will eventually level off as normalcy resumes. But for now, this is kind of the the new normal, I suppose that we're living in, I'm sure we're all sick and tired of hearing that terminology. But I think also the entertainment industry and restaurants are on are going to be on the rise again. Mostly because people are prioritizing real life kind of social experiences, where they can be kind of with their friends and family in person once again. So we're all kind of pining for that, you know, in real life, person to person experience. And I think it's because of this resurgence, that we're seeing marketers in these specific industries, investor budgets and influencer marketing, which is exciting to see. Go to the next slide. Thank you. So just to look at travel specifically, we were curious how people's travel habits have changed. And as as a real result of the pandemic. So we surveyed a touch over 700 influencers, and overwhelmingly, so we learned that everyone is eager to get back back in action and travel just more in general, though, some will limit their travel to a country's borders, so worth pointing out. And it's also important to note that 14% of those surveyed aren't really sure yet, meaning things are changing day to day. And they're kind of just waiting to see how things panned out. So brands really kind of need to kind of keep a pulse on how comfortable and an open influencers may be to working on travel campaigns. So just an important learning out of that survey. Right. And we're also going to see influencer and consumer habits shift in other ways as well. So just looking at shopping, specifically, as retail resumes, retail shopping, that is resumes. And we predict that small and local businesses, especially those that have been hit hard by the pandemic will be favored and prioritized. So looking back at the last year, I think it was pretty evident that certain large etailers profited, while a lot of the little guys kind of suffered. And we saw this in the headlines, and many consumers kind of rose to the occasion to support independent retailers, which is really, really wonderful. I think this behavior really kind of, I don't know, shook the the metaphorical money tree, if you will. And as a result, I think it really kind of has that sticking power, which is great to see. And I mean, as for influencers, I think they'll continue to be a source for information and inspiration, as you you alluded to before Rachael and then kind of the inspiration for consumers as they've been throughout the years. So again, we decided to ask our influencers, and we wanted to understand how their shopping habits will change as the world opens up. And we found that nearly 60% are itching to shop in person with almost seven and a half of those influencers, saying that they'll prioritize small business specifically, which is kind of a fun learning. also important to note that 7% will continue to shop in person less as a result of the pandemic and almost 25% indicated in our survey, that they don't anticipate it, they don't anticipate changing their habits from the pandemic, meaning eCommerce will still be a prominent channel for shoppers. I think since consumer shopping habits will be relatively split post pandemic between kind of in store brick and mortars and digital, it's kind of interesting to think about which industries will have staying power in the digital landscape and which will kind of migrate to in person retail. I think some are obvious. So you know, if you're shopping for a new car, or you know, an expensive television that most often requires, you know, an experience to put down your credit card. But then you have industries like CPG which I think will continue to see steady digital growth in because there's less of kind of a barrier to entry there. You know, you can easily make a decision online based on what cracker brand you want to go with. But then you also do have some industries that are I don't know they're kind of on the fringe, right. So I think of the beauty industries specifically, which I personally predict will have a massive influencer marketing presence in the future as it is today. But I think the purpose of the industry's digital presence We'll kind of shift, I think it might shift to be more more upper funnel, as retail kind of opens up.
Rachael Cihlar 20:07
That's such an interesting point, Quinn you know, we were talking about this earlier, can you elaborate a little bit more on on why you think that's the case for beauty? You know, do you think it's because that's still something that maybe we get exposure to online, but really want to test out in person before we commit?
Quinn Delahanty 20:23
Yeah, it's pretty interesting. And I would, I would agree with that. I think that out of necessity, during the pandemic, consumers were looking to beauty influencers as a way of, you know, making that purchase decision and kind of validating what they were thinking, you know, seeing those TikTok videos looking on Instagram rails to kind of make that decision. But I think now as the world opens up, we have the opportunity to go into an Ulta, go into a Sephora and actually try these products on, you know, health permitting, I suppose. But it's not that we have that opportunity and retail will be opening up, I just think it's going to kind of dampen a little bit. And we'll look to these influencers for more of kind of like validation, but not necessarily like the purchase decision.
Rachael Cihlar 21:08
Sure. I mean, one aspect of that could be that maybe this opens up the avenue again, for in person events where we have seen like beauty influencers go into stores, and host events with brands to try on some of the the beauty products and to also get more of that what you described earlier, like real life experience that bridges both, you know, in person and online.
Quinn Delahanty 21:35
Yeah, I love that cross pollination. I think that's super strong.
Rachael Cihlar 21:38
Quinn Delahanty 21:40
Awesome. Cool. So on that same note, on the note of some consumers kind of sticking to online shopping, influencers and shoppable content are making it easier for marketers to see ROI from the campaign from their campaigns and efforts. And it's really the social networks that are accelerating this at a super fast clip. I mean, it's hard to kind of keep up with it really. For example, Instagram has changed their app design their layout to to highlight shopping more prominently. And then Google rolled out shop loop and YouTube is testing an eCommerce integration. So really kind of pulling out all the stops trying to get consumers to purchase on so we we've also seen Pinterest expanding more into eCommerce capabilities like shoppable pins, and TikTok is partnering with Shopify. We also see the affiliate and influencer marketing industries kind of overlap and grow to get there and become kind of even more intertwined. Which is really exciting. And we talked a lot about this at Mavrck. We actually hosted a webinar on the marriage of influencer and affiliate marketing last month. And we talked a little bit about Mavrcks partnership with a when kind of making it easy for marketers to leverage influencers as affiliate partners. So if any of you are interested in learning more shameless plug here, I'll link can be found on our website to that webinar, and you should definitely check it out. So I suppose with that shameless plug, Rachael, I will kick it back to you.
Rachael Cihlar 23:18
Thanks,Quinn. I love it. It was a fun webinar. And we we do talk a little bit about why this matters now especially you know, in that in the aftermath slash still in the the season of what we're feeling from the pandemic and the impacts. So with these trends also have come new opportunities in social media and an influencer marketing. Now you might be wondering, what are we talking about? And I think if you're, if you're like me, a millennial, or if you're a Gen Z, you certainly know this TikTok dance into our lives permanently. And so Tiktok growth has been steadily increasing really over the last two years, but we especially saw it become a more prominent fixture during the pandemic. And we've seen our influencer marketing grow. In fact, at Mavrck in particular, over 2019 to 2020. We saw our campaigns grow 528% year over year, which is insane. It went from us pitching TikTok to brands being like you need to try it, it's this new thing. It you need to be first to market to brands coming to us and saying, I want to develop my TikTok strategy, or I've already started it and I want you to help me scale it up. And so we've really seen it become a powerful tool in an influencer marketing tool belt, to be maybe reach new audiences or just to expand into this audience that has become started this channel that has become so popular with so many audiences. And for example, Millennials have grown as a major cohort of users on the app. This has made it really attractive for both new creators and for brands to partner on sponsored content. That demographic. Now I know I've been a user of TikTok since well before the pandemic. But I know some so many of my friends really didn't download it until March of 2020 or April 2020, when they were like, oh, everyone's sharing these TikTok videos, what's this about. And so really, that's when we saw a lot of brands dive in, but also users making it even more convincing for brands who maybe weren't necessarily trying to reach the Gen Z demographic, but have maybe an older target consumer. And so once other started to join, it really made sense for them, because they could reach who they needed to. And I think what makes TikTok’s so unique is this raw and authentic nature of content that spurs engagement far above those of competing platforms like Instagram. I don't know if you've ever compared and we've talked to creators about this as well, but compared one video on TikTok to the exact same video on Instagram, and just the number of views that it gets on tik tok and comparison to Instagram is wild. It's because of their super addictive for you page or their algorithm which feeds up content based on what you've engaged with what you like, based on sounds are trending, you know, audio, and so it really becomes addicting, so much so that you can get sucked in and you know, three hours and you're still on TikTok watching videos. And so if you're on the app, you really understand why it is so addictive. And there's something for everyone. Whether you're into dancing or if you're into food, or you're like me, and your newish homeowner and you're into home and gardening, or any niche topic, you can find on TikTok making it a place where brands can really find their own place and find an audience and really find how they can resonate with creators, and consumers.
Now, on another side of, of what we saw rise with social media during the pandemic, we also saw this newer type of social media in social audio. Now, if you're not aware of social audio, really think of it as how podcast paves the way with growth, for the rise of social audio. And it's because we've seen the impacts of the pandemic and some of the fatigue from watching screens. This is supported by what analysts Jeremiah Owyang calls the Goldilocks medium in social audio, where text is not enough, but video just feels like too much. And we don't have that kind of capacity or patience for it. And therefore social audio is just right. So because of this, we've seen over 40 social audio networks exist today, though we do see consolidation is happening like sports focus network locker room, which was acquired by Spotify and renamed as the green room. And that's going to help bolster their live audio capabilities and branding. And so this is a really interesting topic to us, you know, if you've been on Clubhouse, or if you've been interested in knowing what clubs a Clubhouse is about. It allows for a deeper range of sentiment. And so you can really get into a topic that maybe you wouldn't necessarily have the ability to with just a passing Instagram and photo and caption or even with a short, you know, one minute TikTok video. With social audio, you can really lean on subject matter experts get into deep discussion. And so Mel, your audience might not be as large because it really hasn't had that same penetration as as other social media networks or forms of social media. It allows for really deep conversation and information about your brand or products. We've seen some brands like in the financial space, who are leveraging social audio, to talk about really in depth topics and things that maybe are not of interest to everyone. But for those who is of interest to it's very convincing and becomes more of that lower funnel activity really getting your consumers to convert. Now if you're interested in learning more about social audio, we hosted a webinar in March on Clubhouse with our expert and analyst Jeremiah Owyang. It's a great Listen, check it out. We also have some fun on the channel on clubhouse after so yeah, check that out if you want to learn more about social audio.
Billy Restrepo 29:25
Rachael, before you go ahead actually wanted to jump in candy Tucker actually had to ask a question. Yeah. What are you seeing in real estate specifically multifamily real estate and apartments?
Rachael Cihlar 29:35
I mean, I think what everyone has seen in real estate is that it's huge right now. Something that I've personally seen and connecting it to influencer marketing and what brands have the power to do is partnering with influencers either in one way like say you're an Airbnb and of the world. And you want to work to find more hosts, people who are willing to put their properties Online influencer marketing is a great way to do that. I actually recently just saw a video on TikTok, where an influencer was talking about their income that they make directly through Airbnb by buying up some of these properties, like apartments or condos, and being able to lease them out. And it's a great way to kind of work that side of their marketplace where maybe it's not just about getting consumers to rent them, but also to become hosts. So that's really interesting to me. I think the other piece of it is, if you're interested in real estate, using social media, like TikTok or Instagram or YouTube to show more home and DIY content, there are so many creators out there who are creating this content. And it's fascinating, and it's super educational. And it's a great way to partner with brands who are in that space too. Whether you be the Home Depot's of the world, or maybe you're a paint brand like bear. So I think there's a ton of opportunity here. And because real estate is so popular right now, it's a really ripe time to jump on it. Cool. So I think the net net of this is that social media and the growth of it is here to stay and alongside influencer marketing, of course. Now according to talking influence, as a result of the stay at home orders, social media usage increased. Now the number of active social media users grew globally by 10.5% to almost 4 billion. That's insane. That's wild, more than half of our nation, or sorry, of our world. And influencers are becoming vital to marketers and to their digital spend. Because social connection is just as important as in person, even more so when we can have that in person connection. And lastly, create for good is also a permanent fixture in influencer marketing and an integral strategy for brands and something that we shouldn't overlook because it is super powerful for both the brand perspective but also in the potential it has to impact those who need it most. So five steps for brands on what to do coming out of this. Here's some quick takeaways to keep in mind when you're planning influencer campaigns in this post pandemic or nearly their world. The first is to provide do's and don'ts for influencers to follow evolving CDC and COVID guidelines or wherever you're located, as they will vary by region. So we've seen in the us a lot of places are opening up in Europe, it might not be the case as much and that if you're a global brand, you really want to be aware of this and also make sure leading into our next prediction that are sorry, our stepbrother that influencers are comfortable with your content strategy. And so involve them throughout the process on your campaigns. And in planning. They will not always be comfortable with everything that your brand wants to push. So it's great to maybe survey them first and understand like, Hey, we want to send you somewhere because you're a travel influencer. Are you comfortable with traveling to this region? Or are there any requirements that you have? Or we have this idea? What do you think of it, it's a great way to involve them and also build better relationships with creators. And so that's two and three and then leverage new and growing social networks like social audio, TikTok, and live streaming, we've seen that and maybe they emerged during the pandemic or as a result of the pandemic. But they're also here to stay. It really will allow for a lot of diversified creativity from the brand and the creators they partner with. Because let's be honest, we've all seen the TikTok or excuse me, the Instagram posts and stories that kind of look the same. Whereas TikTok could provide a new, more creative Avenue or live streaming allows for more authenticity and real time engagement, or social audio allows you to get really in depth. And so when you could take these to your advantage and leverage them with creators, it might work even better for your brand than your traditional influencer marketing tactics have.
And lastly, adapt your campaigns to reflect the changing landscape of consumer habits and needs. Because that is ultimately who this content is created for. And so we need to make sure that it's appropriate for the time it's the appropriate message, and that our campaigns reflect the moment that we're in, which is still changing. You know, some people are feeling very comfortable, like things are completely back to normal, and others aren't. So it's important to be sensitive to your messaging and how it can be construed. A great way to do this is by leveraging influencers. Again, in that process. We recommend maybe creating an influencer advisory panel who can review your campaigns before they even go out or who could provide ideas or insights based on what they're seeing because they're on the front lines. They create content for their audiences every day. And so they know their audiences even better than we do as marketers. So Quinn, take us into predictions for the future of influencer marketing.
Quinn Delahanty 35:10
I love it. Yes, 2020 is over. So let's look to the future. So I'm going to share our top five predictions for 2021 and beyond. Number one, influencer marketing will become even more central to the marketing mix. The pandemic has proved the power of influencer marketing as we've discussed in this presentation. So it will no longer just be a simple add on to a media plan. Because the industry is evolving at such an unprecedented rate, competency will really be key. So it's really wise for marketers to continue to educate themselves on the industry. And likewise with the emerging social platforms at our disposal. Number two, competition for creators will make it harder to stand out. With growth comes saturation. And because of this, there will be some fierce competitions for creators to stand out for sure. We think creators will need to diversify their portfolio and kind of build their personal brands. So whether that manifest in you know, trying new platforms, or potentially creators launching new product lines or collaborating with brands, they're definitely going to have to keep kind of building their personal brand and diversifying their portfolios. creators might also become more competitive with their rates, and even their content turnaround times, both not bad things for marketers. On the other side of things, brands will need to be bold and try new channels quickly as a way to separate themselves from the crowd and vie for the best creators. Number three creators will balance raw and authentic content with high quality and curated content. So during the pandemic, we saw influencers becoming more authentic, and showed a lot of kind of this behind the scenes content. And it really worked. This allowed audiences to relate more to influencers, increasing engagement rates for marketers, which is also a really good thing. At the same time, there will still need to there there still exists a need for kind of that curated igcp for brands to repurpose in their their paid efforts and across their own Oh. So we predict that there will be kind of a nice little balance between raw authentic content and that kind of curated mix. And number four, social good, so social good will continue to grow and become central to brand strategy. During the pandemic, people really binded together to support one another. And when brands stood up to support a cause or an organization, it really worked. And not only this, it allowed brands to give back, which we can all definitely get behind. So social goods sticking around. Number five creators will expand their platforms to become media and brand powerhouses. So kind of similar to our prediction. And number two, because of the saturation in the space creators will need to kind of rise above the noise and stand out kind of evolving with the the rate of the industry. TikTok, we've seen some crazy growth there. And it's funny because when I talk to my friends about TikTok, we always draw these analogies between like TikTok and Hollywood, right, like TikTok is the new breeding ground for celebs. We've already seen this a ton with TikTok but you know, kind of growing those digital celebrities. And it's kind of like the breeding grounds, you know, when people are kind of celebrities, rather, these kind of digital celebrities are kind of growing beyond this one single platform approach. And they're showing up in retail, you know, they're showing up on YouTube and even on Netflix shows now too. So really kind of just building their brands and growing into powerhouses. So that is our those are our five top predictions for the future. And I think with that it's time for some q&a.
Rachael Cihlar 39:10
Yeah, Billy, any questions we can take or you know, any questions you have for us about influencer marketing and what was
Billy Restrepo 39:19
actually what just came in from Oscar. How do you gauge when an influencer is successful? Do you look at numbers only? What do you recommend?
Rachael Cihlar 39:28
Yeah, that's a great question. So I think to deem success, you need to know like what you're trying to achieve. So where we start every influencer marketing program is with your goals. Now, based on your goals and your objectives, it's going to change how you measure success and what KPIs you look at. So for example, if you're looking at brand awareness, you're going to want to measure the impact of you know, how many people did I reach for this? How many impressions did we get? How was the engagement? What kind of engagement rate did we get or how many Total engagement. But you can also make it even bigger than that by doing things like brand lift and seeing if your brand got a lift from all the influencer content, that's something that is a little bit more involved in measuring but can be a really great gauge of influencer marketing is working for you. Now if you're looking for conversions or sales, you're going to want to make sure you're a using the right channels for driving conversions and sales, but also be measuring that appropriately. Now, this can include supplying tracking links for each individual influencer, which is easy to do through a platform like Mavrck. And it allows you to see which influencers were driving the most clicks or conversions or sales for you. So that's really important. You know, Quinn mentioned, we do have relationships with affiliate partners where we can also do that. And you can also see just how much they're driving and sales. So we've a variety of ways to do that. But really, when it comes down to measuring the effectiveness of influencer marketing, you got to start with your goals and make sure that you're measuring the appropriate things for your goals. Because just like any other thing that you're trying to achieve, like you're not going to look at every possible measurement, you're going to want to hone in on the ones that are really key to what you were trying to, to set out to do. So it's kind of tough with influencer marketing, because you know, we have a robust reporting solution. But it doesn't mean you need to look at everything in there. You might want to pay attention in more particular to clicks or to sales, or in some cases, comments and brand awareness or in some cases, other things that might be additional to how you're measuring things like how maybe you're able to repurpose influencer content into your paid ads, and what that maybe resulted in for performance. So kind of a roundabout way to answer that. But you know, if you have a particular goal, you're trying to achieve an influencer marketing, we'd be always happy to chat with you at Mavrck and talk about, you know, how we help you achieve that.
Billy Restrepo 42:10
Great, thanks, Rachael. So in terms of return of investment, which social platform would you and what social platform would you recommend? If there was particular vertical isn't? Like? I'm assuming the question means like, which vertical aligns best with which platform?
Rachael Cihlar 42:27
Yeah, that's a great question. You know, it's gonna depend to your point on like, is your audience available on some of those channels too. So as we talked about, TikTok, for example, early days, it was really focused on on reaching Gen Z consumers and audiences, whereas now it has grown to include millennials but also even different demographics older or younger than that. And so that could be a great option for you if you're looking to get a lot of eyeballs on your content through influencer content, of course, and also reach those key audiences who are on tik tok, that could be provide you some great ROI. But it really goes back to like what you're trying to achieve to that measurement of ROI. For example, if you are intent on driving sales tickets, not the best option for you there because it doesn't have a lot of click through moments to get you to like an eCommerce page, for example, whereas Instagram is great if you're using stories and swipe ups, but also long form content like blog posts or YouTube videos, that have many opportunities for links put included throughout could be really great for driving sales. You know, if you want to talk about verticals, we see it really you can find a niche anywhere. Instagram tends to be great for pretty much any type of brand. It may be a little bit harder for more niche verticals. For example like financials or the financial services or sector where maybe it's a little bit more in depth of a topic that you might better leverage blog or YouTube or clubhouse something for TikTok we see things like home DIY decor working really well. beauty, fashion food really runs the gamut and you know, we do talk about verticalized options for brands at Mavrck so if you want to or sorry verticalized options for social networks for your brand. If you want to chat about that or pose you know follow up with your question with specific type of vertical or industry you're in we'd be happy to elaborate more.
Billy Restrepo 44:41
Great, great. So if you're new brand to influencer marketing, how do you dip your toe safely?
Rachael Cihlar 44:47
Quinn Do you want to take this one?
Quinn Delahanty 44:49
Yeah, sure. I I mean, we have some wonderful thought leadership on this that I'd be happy to share out but I do think if you're a new brand into influencer marketing, the best thing you can do is really kind of do Like a test and learn approach, maybe start with Instagram, Instagram, Facebook as these networks, these platforms already kind of established and offer a really robust suite for advertisers. So I would start kind of there. And then with a platform like Mavrck, one thing, another shameless plug is that we don't cap you at the number of campaigns that you can execute within the tool itself. So it allows you to kind of test and learn and try different things. So what I would do is I would kind of do a slow roll, test out different diverse kind of mix of influencers on a platform like Instagram or Facebook, and then derive some really valuable learnings from that campaign. And then identify which of those influencers are kind of top performers, which ones really kind of push that needle for you which ones drove the most engagements, which ones drove the most traffic, kind of monitor those directional activities as well, and then re enroll these people into maybe another effort in the future. Again, you can monitor all this within Mavrck and see which of these individuals are top performers and are kind of, you know, meeting your KPIs. So I would Yeah, it's kind of test and learn approach get a good diverse pool of influencers and and monitor that traffic and then double down the next go around.
Billy Restrepo 46:14
Sounds good. So anonymous person came in, what are the latest trends? What are we seeing getting the most engagement across all channels?
Rachael Cihlar 46:23
Whoo. I think the short form video really tends to be very popular right now. Now, that includes a course TikTok videos of any length, but it also includes Instagram reels. It includes channels like triller. And really why short form video is so wonderful is because for a channel like Instagram is being prioritized in their algorithm, when they release a new feature like reels they want users to use it. And so they're going to expose that content even more. So excuse me in their algorithm then posts and stories. And so that means that you're getting even more eyeballs on it. But it's also super popular, because you can find it both in the bottom navigation. It has its own section in the feed, it comes up in the Explore or discovery page, and it's on profiles. And it can be shared to posts and stories. So short form video here to stay on the heels of TikTok, of course, but it also provides really engaging content that is easily shareable, creates kind of trends and memes that people latch on to. And so we think that that is a huge opportunity. And kind of along with that short form video is this focus on audio. And for brands. This can be a tricky space, you know, music licensing, audio licensing in relation to sponsored content can be a little concerning, like, what do I What should I do as a brand? What is maybe safe for me or poses the least brand risk. And we actually just created a piece of content on this a guide to audio licensing and using audio on social media and with influencers. And so you can check that out on our website, or we can send it to you. But really, it does provide an opportunity for brands we've seen brands like elf, which is a makeup brand, they created their own distinct audio for TikTok, and it went viral. Everyone used it and they used it for not just makeup stuff, either. So I think Yeah, short form video and the usage of audio to your huge opportunity will will be a huge trend that's here to stay.
Billy Restrepo 48:36
Amazing. Another question. So how do you optimize for algorithm algorithm updates? A little bit of a tongue twister over there? When you don't know they're coming?
Rachael Cihlar 48:44
Yeah, you know, we're at the whim of social networks and what they decide to do with their their algorithms. And to be honest, they they don't provide very much insight on what they're doing with it. So we kind of have to figure it out. A great way to do so is really stay in touch with the influencers. They post content every day, multiple times a day. So they're kind of the first to see, hey, Wow, my, my posts aren't getting as many likes as they used to, or, hey, by leveraging you know, reels or by posting this often on tik tok, or by using these hashtags, I'm getting a lot more traction than I did before. So that goes back to our point about leveraging influencers for their knowledge about social media and influencer marketing, and not just to create content, but to also advise your brand on how to do so they kind of see those changes happen in real time and feel them more acutely, as well as, as they rely on these social networks to get their content out. And so it's a great way to say like, hey, if you see anything that's changing in the algorithm, or like, in your performance or metrics that you think is maybe a cause of the algorithm, let us know we can be aware of this and then you know, We follow the best in the industry, we look to writers in the space journalists, to those who are talking about these changes. And in the very infrequent cases, when the social networks themselves published information about their algorithms will will keep an eye on that too. That's what my team does at Mavrck. We're a team of experts. We watch this stuff all day to inform our brands on what they need to do to, you know, adapt as their influencer marketing practice grows.
Billy Restrepo 50:33
So this is a bit of a follow up on that same topic. But trends come and go so fast on social media, specifically, TikTok, what do you recommend to stay up to date and relevant as a brand?
Rachael Cihlar 50:44
Yeah, great question. We hosted a webinar back in February with a TikTok influencer, and she talked about this exactly. There. If you're a brand who can be really adaptable with your messaging, and partner with influencers long term, it will allow you to capitalize on those trending moments because, for example, on TikTok, a trend could last for a month, or it could last for a couple days. And so you want to make sure that you're not too far behind and saying like, oh, like that's not relevant anymore. And so using influencers to kind of understand that, but also develop long term partnerships with them, where you can activate them at a moment's notice, or where they could even pitch an idea to you and say, hey, there's this thing going on right now, this trending meme or sound, I think it would be great for you know, your brand to jump in on it, here's how I would create that content. And so it really starts with just great foundational relationships with influencers that will allow you to capitalize and move on trends quickly.
Billy Restrepo 51:44
Awesome, great. So I have one last question before we kind of wrap it up and hand it off to you guys for some key takeaways. But it just wanted to say thank you to everyone that joined in and around that participated. So have you encountered issues with Twitter limits, rational limits, restricting and adding new followers?
Rachael Cihlar 52:00
You know, we haven't. Twitter in particular is not a huge driver for a lot of our brands, because it is so short lived both in the feed, and also the content itself is quite short. It can be used as a more real time engagement tool. So like if you are maybe a media company or in you, like create television shows, it can be great for creating conversation around that. But it's not great for like original content creation in the form of like videos or photos or in depth analysis. And so we don't use it quite as much. So we haven't necessarily seen that impact our brands. But you know, it's something to be aware of, because as both a brand and as you advise influencers, you always want to be authentic. So that includes like, not just spam, following hundreds or 1000s of people, but really being intentional, intentional about those relationships that you have with both creators and consumers. And like, it's an exchange of value. So if you're going to follow a consumer who you want to see your content, like make sure you're putting good content out there, and you're not just trying to mass follow and hope that they follow you back. So you know, don't have as much to say about that, in particular for Twitter. But I think you know, be intentional and authentic about how you do engage with social, whether it's with influencers or even as your own brand presence.
Billy Restrepo 53:29
Thanks so much, guys. So again, wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone who doubt, you know, just jumped in, and everyone that was able to participate. And if you guys want any more information on this, I would 100% encourage you to set up some time with the team over at Mavrck. They're highly recommended from a ton of brands in the network. So it's definitely worth setting aside 30 to 60 minutes to learn a little bit more about what they're doing to help organizations today. And again, thanks, Rachael. Thanks, Quinn so much for everything. It was an awesome presentation. And I think it just left a lot answered a lot of questions gives a lot of thought to things.
Rachael Cihlar 53:58
Thank you so much. It was great to be here and follow up with us if you want to chat more.
Quinn Delahanty 54:03
Yeah, this is wonderful. I appreciate it. Thanks, guys.
Billy Restrepo 54:06
Thank you so much, guys. Have a great one.
Rachael Cihlar 54:08
I now have a good one. Bye.