The future of influencer marketing: Predictions and trends for 2023

The last couple of years has seen rapid growth in the creator economy. As of 2022, the global influencer market was valued at 16.4bn USD, almost double that of 2019 (Statista), and around one in four marketers have used influencer marketing (Hubspot). These numbers suggest that the future of influencer marketing is very much solid. That said, the industry is fairly new, and both influencers and brands are just learning to navigate contracts and ensure good returns. 

This article explores some of the top influencer marketing trends we can expect to see in 2023.

But before we dive into that, let’s try to answer one of the pertinent questions among brands and marketers: 

Is influencer marketing the future of marketing?

At a glance, the answer appears to be yes. While it takes a bit more planning and has many more variables to control, influencer marketing consistently gives killer returns to brands. 

Studies on social media networks have shown that social media users often trust influencers as much as or more than their friends when it comes to product recommendations. At the same time, a promotion directly from a brand was a lot less likely to lead to a purchase. 

When Instagram introduced sponsored posts and many governments mandated that influencers clearly mention if they were paid to promote a product, many were worried that it may affect customer behavior. Influencers on the social media platform couldn’t show a product as if they just tried it and loved it if they were getting paid to do so. 

But recent studies show that even with a ‘sponsored’ or an ‘ad’ tag, customers were willing to trust the influencers on their recommendations. Compare this to the fact most users would be running to hit the close button on an in-app ad or hit the skip button on a YouTube ad and we can see how influencer marketing may be the future of marketing. 

That said, the creator economy continues to be focused on very specific niches such as beauty, travel, fitness, fashion, and food. While there is some interest in fields like gaming and technology, we’re not seeing a rapid spread of influencer marketing into other industries. Even though there are voices in the B2B sector that can drive customers, influencer marketing is almost non-existent here. These companies continue to rely on traditional marketing channels to drive sales and conversion. 

So yes, influencer marketing will play a major part in the future of marketing, traditional channels are not going anywhere. 

Top ten influencer marketing trends to watch in 2023

There are some of the top influencer marketing trends for 2023. Since the industry is fairly young, some of these may be temporary, but some may dictate the future of influencer marketing. Let’s have a look at what they are: 

1. More brands focusing on smaller influencers 

When it was at its very nascent stage, influencer marketing efforts revolved largely around influencers with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. But in the last two years or so, brands have become more interested in working with micro or nano influencers. 

Nano and micro-influencers tend to have a much smaller but more engaged audience on a social media network compared to mega-influencers. Micro-influencers also appear to have a better connection with their followers than celebrity influencers. 

Micro-influencers also often have a very specific niche offering marketers the opportunity to target audiences with specific interests. It also helps them fine-tune a campaign when working with a specific target audience. And compared to major influencers, micro, and nano influencers charge less for posts helping brands better manage their influencer marketing spend. 

2. TikTok likely to be one of the top social media platforms for influencer marketing

While TikTok is yet nowhere Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram in terms of the number of monthly active users (Statista), it has shown steady growth over the last couple of years. Between 2018 and 2022, it attracted around 340 million new active users every year (Statista). 

Picture of a smartphone showing TikTok on its screen. The phone is placed on a table with a green plant next to it

Latest reports show that TikTok’s engagement rate was a massive 5.69% compared to Instagram’s 0.47%. Other social media channels try to emulate TikTok's success by rolling out their versions of short-form video content.

We can expect TikTok’s popularity to grow in 2023 as well. That said, most TikTok users are between the ages of 18 and 44. We can expect the demographic to diversify this year slightly, but it's safe to say marketers will struggle to reach older audiences through TikTok. 

3. Video content continues to rise in popularity in influencer marketing campaigns

Video content was one of the top marketing trends in the last two or three years. The Instagram algorithm promotes reels more than other content, and short-form videos on YouTube and Facebook are gaining massive reach. 

Surveys have shown that 59% of short-form videos are watched to almost 41% of their lengths and an astonishing 30% of them were watched for 81% of their lengths. 

These numbers suggest that marketers should focus on video marketing over other forms of influencer content when building a social media marketing strategy. 

4. More governments coming up with guidelines for influencer marketing 

Governments and regulatory bodies are developing stricter guidelines and rules for influencer collaborations. These guidelines are largely about creating transparency in brand-influencer partnerships. 

The Indian government was the latest to release guidelines mandating social media influencers to make clear disclosures if they were getting paid for advertising campaigns. According to the new rules, influencers may face fines of up to $60,000 if they fail to disclose partnerships. 

In the US, FTC has mandated that influencers must mention to their audience if they were getting paid for a particular post or content in unambiguous language.

These rules may create new social media marketing strategies and can dictate the future of influencer marketing. 

5. User-generated content grows in popularity

UGC or user-generated content will be one of the top influencer marketing trends in 2023. UGC or user-generated content has played a huge role in building successful influencer marketing campaigns in recent years. Instead of a brand itself producing content or posts and asking influencers to share them, companies and influencer marketing agencies are working with creators to make authentic content about their brands. 

A beauty influencer sitting behind a table with a ring light in front of her and showing a makeup tutorial. Make up materials can be seen on the table

UGC content appears more authentic from the perspective of potential customers and they tend to trust them more. For example, a mommy influencer trying on clothes for their infants or a fashion influencer creating reels with a luxury handbag tend to produce more results than brand ambassadors putting up a story that a brand created for them. 

6. Focus on long-term collaborations instead of a project or a campaign

Long-term collaborations will be a prominent influencer marketing trend in 2023. In the past. most influencer-marketer or creator-brand relationships have been just one-off projects or campaigns.

Two fashion influencers apparently in the middle of a shoot, holding a bundle of clothes and standing in front of a ring light

But of late, marketers have realized that working with influencers will affect their brand for a long time and brands are therefore exploring ongoing partnerships. While there’s no trend of retainer agreements in the creator economy, brands are trying to keep their influencers updated on their activities or new products. 

Brands may attempt to build long-term partnerships by offering sample products and VIP passes to events and of course long-term promotion campaigns. We are also seeing more brand-influencer collaborations during product development as well.

7. Cash payments over gifts, performance-based compensation over flat rate

While many macro and nano influencers may collaborate with a brand for product samples or gifts, creators tend to prefer cash payments. Influencers don’t view content creation as a hobby or a side hustle anymore but as a complete business and many will refuse collaborations in exchange for freebies. 

Brands, on the other hand, are also shifting towards performance-based compensation instead of paying for social media posts or content. Instead of paying a flat rate, brands are offering compensation for engagement, impressions, and other metrics. 

8. Influencer marketing platforms will continue to grow

Influencer marketing tools and platforms have grown along with the rise of the creator economy. The market for these solutions is expected to reach $24.1bn by 2025 growing at a CAGR of 30%. 

Influencer marketing platforms were earlier limited to just creator discovery tools but have now evolved to manage entire influencer campaigns. Some platforms even offer to handle the entire marketing campaign with little input from the brand. 

In the last couple of years, we have seen a lot of innovation in this space with different tools carving out niches for themselves. In 2023 we can expect to see more innovation and a lot more competition among these tools as they try to capture the market. 

9. More CGI influencers expected 

The last couple of years has seen the arrival of CGI influencers. These influencers, created with computer-generated imagery and AI tools, generated a huge following. 

Top influencers like lilmiquela have worked with brands like Prada and Cavin Klein and command a large following on social media platforms. 

Screenshot showing the Instagram profile of lilmiquela

In 2023, with advances in CGI and AI, we can expect more sophisticated CGI influencers to make their appearance.

10. Push for diversity and inclusion in influencer marketing

In 2023, we can expect more brands to push diverse social media influencers to promote their brand. Surveys over the years have shown that many influencers from marginalized communities have faced bullying and harassment on social media networks. They have faced an uphill battle to find a space among influencers and creators. 

But in 2023, more companies are placing emphasis on DEI programs and we can expect creators from LGBTQIA communities and ethnic minorities to represent major brands and companies.

Taking charge of the creator economy in 2023 with InsightIQ

InsightIQ is the companion you want by your side as you take brands to success in the influencer marketing industry.

From intelligently curating a list of possible influencer partners, understanding the quality of engagement, and tracking and assessing a partnership's impact, insightIQ hands you the data so you're not shooting off in the dark with your IM campaigns.

Want to check it out yourself? Book a demo today!

Team insightIQ

Unlock influencer marketing bliss

Brainstorming campaign slogans or whole briefs and ideas— kick it out of the park with intelligent automation.

Download the GPT Cheat-sheet for Influencer Marketers.

GPT Cheat-sheet for Influencer Marketers