Get All Access for $5/mo

This Is What You Need to Know About Influencer Marketing in 2021 Influencers are the golden children of digital marketing, and brands stand to profit from that fact.

By Jessica Wong Edited by Amanda Breen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

From $1.7 billion in 2016, influencer marketing is expected to grow to be worth $13.8 billion by the end of this year.

As a collaboration between a social-media influencer and a business, this form of marketing is designed to create a personalized connection between a brand and its audience. By leveraging the industry authority and social capital of social-media influencers, businesses are able to essentially borrow some of the trust those influencers have built within their niche. And we all know how essential trust is for a brand.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

Why influencer marketing is necessary in 2021

The world has undergone significant changes in the last two years. A pandemic has ravaged the economy, and it's changed the way we do everything from working to socializing to commerce.

The 2020 global lockdowns proved once and for all that consumers prefer online commerce in today's digital age. Even as we look toward the end of the pandemic, there's no escaping the reality that the way we market has to evolve along with this consumer behavior. A digital-marketing strategy is no longer a "nice to have": It's essential for the success of your brand.

That said, not all digital-marketing avenues are created equally. With the rise of digital culture, consumers are savvier than ever to the efforts of advertisers. Ad blockers, skip buttons and swipes left are commonplace in today's online community. Reaching people with traditional ads just doesn't cut it anymore.

Enter influencers.

Social-media influencers are one of the best ways for a brand to reach its audience and do so authentically. They essentially bridge the gap between traditional marketing techniques and the consumer behaviors online today. With the right influencer on your side, your brand stands to gain credibility and sales.

Related: Does Being an Influencer Mean Anything Anymore?

Influencer-marketing opportunities

The opportunities of influencer marketing are numerous. With the right strategy, your brand stands to benefit greatly.

Here are just a few ways in which social-media influencer marketing can broaden your brand's horizon.

Reach your target audience on a personal level

Influencers have built communities that like and trust them. They've built a personal connection with their audience. That relationship is one that can be leveraged by savvy brands to better market products or services.

Repurpose influencer content

When influencers create brand content, it's like a golden goose laying an egg. The material produced is social media ready, of course, but it can also be repurposed for use on websites, digital-marketing campaigns and more.

Save money on marketing expenses

The majority of influencers that are used for influencer marketing are what are called "micro-influencers." These are influencers that have between 10,000 and 200,000 followers. Working with these creators can be incredibly cost-effective compared to other forms of marketing.

Related: It's Time to Redefine the Influencer

Influencer-marketing challenges

While social-media influencer marketing might seem like the gift that keeps on giving, there are some challenges that come with it.

Fake social followings

It's common practice these days to purchase followers online. These fake accounts or bots are designed to automatically simulate actual user activity to artificially inflate follower and engagement metrics on social-media platforms.

Facebook alone estimates that 5% of its profiles are fake. With numbers like that, it can be difficult to weed out influencers who grew their audience organically from those who opted for the shady route of purchasing social credibility.

Mismatching influencers

Influencers are trusted by their followers; this is what makes them so effective as marketing envoys. But partnering with the wrong influencer can do your brand more damage than good.

In today's world of rising accountability, an influencer's fall from grace can be sudden and messy. If partnered with such a person, your brand stands to feel the effects of that fall.

When selecting an influencer to work with, you must ensure his or her brand aligns with yours that his or her ethics are in line with your brand ethos. If you don't do this due diligence, it could come back to bite you, hard.

Social algorithm changes

Social-media platforms are constantly changing. As they grow and adapt to user behavior, this can present challenges in the influencer-marketing sphere.

Social algorithm updates can change everything from how content is rewarded to the order in which it displays on user feeds. All these factors can cause rapid shifts in the access social-media influencers have to their audience. And when that changes, so too must your influencer-marketing strategies.

Social-media influencer marketing isn't going away. As the world shifts toward an ever more digital future, brands can only stand to benefit from savvy, effective influencer-marketing campaigns. This isn't to say the world of influencer marketing is without its challenges; however, with the right approach, your social-media influencer-marketing efforts can be incredibly rewarding.

Jessica Wong

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder and CEO of Valux Digital and uPro Digital.

Jessica is the Founder and CEO of nationally recognized marketing and PR firms, Valux Digital and uPro Digital. She is a digital marketing and PR expert with more than 20 years of success driving bottom-line results for clients through innovative marketing programs aligned with emerging strategies.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

Amazon Is Reportedly Tracking 'Coffee Badging' Workers and Their Real In-Office Hours

Leaked Slack messages showed employees had a minimum number of hours they needed to be in the office for the time to count as an in-office day.

Side Hustle

This Former Disney Princess Lived 'Paycheck to Paycheck' Before Starting a Side Hustle at Home — Now She Makes $250,000 a Year

Victoria Carroll's income was "sporadic" until a friend encouraged her to take her talents to Fiverr in 2018.


He Didn't Want to Lead His $1 Billion Business the Same Way Anymore — Here's How the High-Stakes Switch-Up Paid Off

Advait Shinde, co-founder and former CEO of educational software company GoGuardian, was ready for a change. So was former COO of LegalZoom Rich Preece.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.