One such learning has been the increased adoption of e-commerce by consumers, as more and more South Africans have taken to the Internet to meet their needs.

As a result of this, some of the more traditional marketing methods have been rendered less effective, while digital marketing and more specifically, influencer marketing, have been on the up and up.

As brands, businesses and consumers, continue to evolve and adapt in a world where markets are undergoing rapid change and speedy innovation, it's not enough to simply do influencer marketing, which has increased across all industries globally. Instead, it's imperative to be smart about it and to keep abreast of the trends within influencer marketing that can help assure a positive ROI.

Below are five influencer marketing trends worth noting to keep your brand and business ahead of competitors, while investing in an increasingly important marketing channel that shows no sign of falling to the wayside any time soon.

1. Video content is king

This isn't the first time you're going to read that video content is king, and it won't be the last.

Indeed, video content has been on the list of almost every 'best practice' digital and influencer marketing piece for the past several years — and there's a good reason for it. As 5G and fibre increase their foothold across the country, and the world, people consume more video and audio content daily.

This has helped increase the level of influence that content creators have on video-streaming platforms like YouTube, Twitch and TikTok. When drafting an influencer campaign, it's important to place an emphasis on the creation of video content alongside static assets because short and long-form video content is dominating across all industry and influencer levels.

2. Build a relationship — and build it to last

Regarding the duration of your influencer campaign, it should be about building a lasting relationship. According to Nael Schaffer, who was named a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer for two years, we're increasingly seeing brands and influencers partnering together for the long term.

Among the many reasons Schaffer lists for this, it comes down to the reality that it can take time to make a sale. This means running a long-term campaign with an influencer will likely be more impactful than short marketing campaigns consisting of a couple of posts here and there.

Brands and businesses are also gaining awareness of the positive impact of fostering a stronger, long-term relationship with an influencer who matches their ideals, lending a greater degree of legitimacy and authenticity to the communication both parties share.

3. Micro- and nano-influencers lead on engagement

An influencer marketing benchmark report for 2022 found that while engagement rates, in general, have dropped across social media channels, this isn't the case for most nano- and micro-influencers, who continue to show impressive engagement rates that drive better conversion rates.

This makes these influencer campaigns a must for brands and businesses across all industries, not just because it allows them to stretch their marketing budget a little further, but it empowers them to tap into established target audiences that are deeply connected to the real human being they're already following.

For this reason, it remains essential to favour the engagement rate of micro- and nano-influencer over their follower numbers.

4. TikTok is a necessity

While there are only 24 hours in a day, it seems there's always room for another social media channel! TikTok, in particular, has seen exceptional growth, partly due to the pandemic, which kept people locked up and online.

Many influencers have amassed huge followings on the platform and brought brands into the fold by partnering with them to create sponsored ads and posts.

With some predictions suggesting TikTok will dethrone Instagram as the leading platform for influencer marketing, the B2BHouse marketers believe marketing teams will double what they spend on TikTok in the next two years, indicating that it's the place to be, and be seen, for some time to come.

5. The link between influencer and affiliate marketing

Many marketers consider influencer and affiliate marketing different activities, but in reality, both involve an 'outsider' advocating for a business or brand, and the products or services it sells.

Affiliate marketing is considered an arrangement in which a business pays a percentage commission to the person or organisation marketing their products or services for the traffic or sales generated from their activity.

Understanding this makes it clear how the line between the two has become blurred, making it necessary to move beyond using influencer campaigns to simply raise awareness and enable influencers to drive sales, from which they're able to make a small profit as well.

This not only enhances the positive impact an influencer can have on a business' e-commerce, but it also adds a degree of increased authenticity to their message because it will tend to be reserved for a product or service they use themselves.

By viewing influencer and affiliate marketing as interconnected, the results are win-win for both the influencer and the business, while making the shopping experience for the customer more efficient and convenient.

In light of these and other reasons, it's clear that influencer marketing is here to stay. And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to devising a winning influencer campaign, the challenges and opportunities each campaign brings are the perfect motivation for some out-of-the-box thinking that ensures you place your energy, attention, and ad spend, exactly where it needs to go.

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