Real World: How Influencer Marketing is Evolving

Anabela Parientes
December 9, 2022

#PaidContent. #Ad. #Partnership. 

What do all these hashtags have in common? 

Influencers. We’ve heard the term a million times and it feels as if we can’t escape them no matter what platform we open. TikTok, Instagram, maybe even BeReal. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s safe to say that influencers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

Historically speaking, society has tended to love them though. 

Influencers have been around since ancient Rome—though at the time they had a different title: gladiators. Champions who continuously won would gain popularity, which often led to brand deals (aka, being asked to promote local oils and wines). Moving forward in history, British royals would go on to give credibility to businesses, such as Queen Charlotte who popularized Josiah Wedgewood’s tea. Today, influencers include our favorite celebrities, popular YouTubers, TikTok stars, and even our friends, who may not have the largest following, but can still influence us to purchase things.


History’s oldest influencers 👴🏼 #socialmedia #influencer #branding #marketing #influencermarketing

♬ original sound – gptalks

The most familiar form of influencer marketing evolved in the 2010’s with the rise of Instagram and the likeness of vlogs and product hauls by creators on YouTube. The term “influencer” finally started to gain traction around this time, and it was revolutionary for marketing. Brands no longer had to rely on celebrity endorsements now that every-day people could gain popularity on the internet and in a variety of niches, which allowed brands to more easily target different audiences. 

Now, you might be wondering if there’s even a difference between celebrities and influencers, and the short answer is: yes. 

Flaunting copious amounts of wealth, large mansions, and luxurious vacations, celebrities aren’t relatable, and our current social climate views such lifestyles with a more critical eye. In other words, rich celebrities are less trustworthy. Kylie Jenner was recently torn to shreds for a TikTok in her car and “dropping” her phone. A day later, people were saying she’s “trying too hard to be relatable” and “everyone knows she doesn’t drive herself anymore,” indicating the whole video was staged in “influencer style.”


#stitch with @Kylie Jenner

♬ original sound – chan

At the end of the day, people want to consume content they can relate to from creators they can trust. The narrative is no longer, “Hey, don’t you want to be like me?” but now (especially with the rise of TikTok’s casual landscape), “Look, I’m just like you.” Representation is changing after so many years of social media emphasizing unachievable physiques and lifestyles—and that’s working in favor of brands AND these newly-relatable influencers. 

In 2016, the global influencer marketing industry was worth $1.7 billion and by the end of 2022 (we’re almost there!) the industry is expected to hit $16.4 billion. Data strongly affirms that 61% of consumers trust influencers more than branded content and the results back it up. 60% of marketers said that influencer-generated content received increased engagement and clicks. It’s no wonder businesses are still jumping to invest in their influencer marketing budgets in 2023!

Although the industry is booming, it’s important to understand that trends within the industry are constantly morphing to fit the most current social media landscape. If you’re looking to invest in influencer marketing, these are the trends you should be looking out for in 2023 and beyond (at least for a little while before the internet morphes again).

Continued increased use of video consumption.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “video is king” over the past few years. This will continue to remain true in 2023. People love getting information from videos, as seen from the rise of TikTok and Instagram’s shift toward Reels as its preferred content push. Video can pack a punch and offer space for more creative or authentic messaging than a caption under a photo. It also drives more engagement because users are willingly offering you their time to watch, and those who watch all the way through are more likely to complete the intended action (click the link, buy the product, etc.).

Micro-influencers will get all the love.

There has been a recent uptick in brands using micro-influencers: meme page admins, at-home vegan cooks, Minecraft streamers, etc. This group of influencers are more common and more relatable to the common person than mega rich macro-influencers. They are more easily trusted because their opinions come off as authentic, less sales-y, and therefore more trustworthy (compared to, say, Kim Kardashian’s crypto fiasco). Additionally, because they typically live in specific niches, their audiences are more engaged.

Cross-platform sharing.

More and more influencers are trying to grow on all of their platforms. Influencer’s audiences also tend to be very loyal, especially smaller micro-influencers, so this opens doors for brands to spread reach across platforms. Additionally, this drives brand awareness which can later lead to consumers associating their favorite influencer with a brand and eventually drive to a sale. Take Elyse Myers for example, a TikTok comedian who went viral for a video describing her worst date ever, who now frequently posts varying videos across multiple platforms (including #ads, of course), has been seen in Audible commercials, and recently started her own podcast (podcast ads being worthy of a blog of their own, is a perfect segue into our final point). 


#ad The Myers fam were #poweredbyIONIQ5 this weekend in Ojai Valley. So thankful to the @Hyundai USA team for the incredible experience! #hyundaiIONIQ5

♬ original sound – Elyse Myers
Note all the positive comments from fans: she’s not “selling-out,” as celebrities are often accused of—she’s achieved success, and people are excited to watch this advertisement. 

Growth in affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing with influencers is already a popular form of marketing. Content creators can offer their followers an affiliate code to purchase from a brand and everyone benefits. Affiliate marketing has grown year-to-year and will continue to in 2023. It can lead to an increase in clicks, sign ups, and sales.

The message I hope you take home today is that influencer marketing is here to stay. Just like trends on TikTok or Instagram come and go, the trends within the industry morph with the times. It’s crucial to do your research on a yearly basis to know what trends stay on top, though the general shift that remains consistent for influencers is using real, relatable people.