Between inflation, a rocky market, and multiple rounds of tech layoffs, many were counting down the days until the new year. Now, content creators are looking ahead to the future, wondering what 2023 will bring and how the latest influencer marketing trends will affect their day-to-day.
Below, The Leap speaks to industry experts about their influencer marketing predictions for 2023. From the surge of interest in artificial intelligence and its applications, to concerns over reduced advertising budgets, here’s what you need to know.
1. AI: Use it or lose it.
Is AI (artificial intelligence) going to take over the world? Because it seems to be the hot topic on the tips of everyone’s tongues these days. Between ChatGPT, Midjourney, and Synthesia, almost every aspect of the content creation process is being automated and AI-ified.
According to Lia Haberman, adjunct instructor of Social Media and Influencer Marketing at UCLA Extension and writer of creator economy newsletter ICYMI, it’s just the beginning. “AI is absolutely going to dominate the marketing industry this year,” she says. “Whether it’s creators using AI tools to help generate text, or marketers who are using AI to source and vet influencers they want to work with.”
What should you do?
Haberman’s suggestion? Get in on the ground floor: “I think we’re going to see a huge gulf between the creators who jump on this early to become experts at manipulating AI for their own benefit, and the creators who use AI but don’t tap into its full potential.”
Start familiarizing yourself with AI tools now. You don’t necessarily have to use them to create all your content. However, you’ll at least want to know what they can do for you.
2. Fewer advertising dollars to go around.
Jay Clouse, the creator educator behind Creator Science and host of the Creative Elements podcast, warns content creators of this not-so-great trend. “We’re already seeing some pullback in advertising spend,” he says. “Creators who depended on that are going to be looking around for ways to replace some of that income.”
Amid recession fears, there’s a general sense that there just aren’t that many brand sponsorships to go around these days. Unlike in recent years, it seems like marketers may have tighter budgets for influencer marketing in 2023.
“The growth in influencer rates had been tremendous over the last few years … That said, I think the leveling out of rates will really be the biggest impact on the market [this year],” says Bradley Hoos, CEO of influencer marketing agency The Outloud Group. “In 2023, I expect creator rates to stay largely flat compared to previous years, behaving similarly to the price of housing.”
What should you do?
Beyond diversifying their income (more on that below), content creators will need to put more emphasis on what they bring to the table. Scott Guthrie, head of the Influencer Marketing Trade Body, says this will be a huge priority for the brands that creators want to work with.
“[Brands] may shift from focusing on the upper end of the sales funnel to concentrating on converting campaigns into sales,” Guthrie explains. “Demonstrating return on investment will become a priority in 2023.”
Hoos agrees: “Marketers need to be sure they are working with creators that have a track record of performing for brands targeting similar customer demographics. In a tough economic time, it’s critical to dial in the targeting to be sure the advertising dollars are delivering high efficiency.”
As a content creator, you’ll need to deliver results in 2023. That means proving that your work can help increase sales for brands, rather than merely bringing them impressions or views.
3. Creators diversifying their income is good for everyone.
One of the best long-term goals for any content creator is diversifying their income to reduce their dependence on any one platform. “There are a lot of changes across platforms, and the ultimate solution for a creator is to have a strong connection with their audience independent of any platform,” Hoos says. “I think 2023 is the year where we’ll see creators seeking out a platform-agnostic relationship with their audiences.”
For Guthrie, this shift isn’t just a gain for creators, but for everyone involved in influencer marketing. “[Creators] are no longer shackled to AdSense, brand sponsorship deals, or flaky payouts from creator funds,” he says. “This is a win for creators, communities, and brands. Creators now have more breathing space in which to choose the best-fit brand with which to strike long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.”
What should you do?
If you haven’t already been diversifying your income, start now. You can easily build multiple revenue streams, no matter what kind of content you create or what your niche is. Not only will it help your bottom line, but it’ll also allow you to develop stronger partnerships with brands.
Why? That’s because you can be more selective when choosing who you’ll work with. “As brands and creators work together based on a shared worldview, values, and behaviors, the resulting content chimes more honestly with target communities,” Guthrie points out.
4. Personal brand and impact will be more important than follower count.
One of the first things you’d typically hear about an influencer is how many followers they have. While watching that number go up as you move through your career can be super satisfying, it isn’t necessarily what brands will be looking at in 2023.
“Follower count means nothing and impact means everything,” Haberman says. “In 2023, we’re going to see brands establish business partnerships with multi-hyphenate mega-creators who are building in the same space.” That means brands will often be looking to partner with big-name creators whose personal brand is stronger than the sum of their followers across different channels.
What should you do?
If you’re not a creator-investor-businessperson-thought-leader quite yet, don’t despair! According to Haberman, there’s going to be a huge opportunity in 2023 for smaller influencers who are hyper-focused on their niche.
She says, “[Brands] will onboard nano-influencers they can seamlessly integrate with their marketing efforts.” If you can turn your work as a content creator into the best resource in a brand’s toolkit, they’ll be coming to you for collaborations again and again.
5. YouTube may dethrone TikTok as the hottest creator platform.
2022 was a huge year for TikTok. The app saw its user base grow to over 1 billion people. Understandably, this has made the short-form video app a top priority for many creators and a competitor for other platforms. But will 2023 be the year that changes?
Haberman suggests that might be the case: “I think we’re going to see a lot of first-time creators skip Instagram and TikTok and go directly to YouTube. Sure, they’ll cross-post videos to other platforms, but they’ll make and optimize content for YouTube first.”
According to Haberman, it’s YouTube’s stability as a platform and predictable content distribution that’ll make it more appealing for creators in 2023.
What should you do?
That depends. If TikTok is your main platform, you can keep creating on the app. However, you might want to rethink the way you use other platforms.
Guthrie notes that TikTok will face particularly tough challenges that most platforms won’t see: the attention of regulators and a potential ban in the U.S. “Increased pressure on the Chinese-owned app may make both creators and brands nervous about placing TikTok at the centre of their businesses,” he elaborates.
If TikTok is more of a secondary platform for you, then you’re in the clear. Keep using it to grow your audience, but make sure to place your focus on your platform of choice.
Make 2023 your year
2022 was a rollercoaster ride for a number of industries, sending shockwaves that affected many. And creators who breathed a sigh of relief when the ball dropped on December 31 might have relaxed too soon.
Between the reduction in advertising spend, the rise of AI, and the increased need to diversify one’s revenue streams, there’ll be a lot to adapt to in 2023. But it’s not all doom and gloom. You know the trends, you know what to do, and now you can go and make 2023 your year.
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