Trend cycling is something we all know to expect.
Whether it’s the 90’s low rise jeans or 2000’s Juicy Couture sweatsuits, fashion trends coming back in style years later is a given. Economic trends have been a constant for even longer. We know that recessions happen every 10 years or so, to varying degrees. As we enter the end of 2022, this feels more relevant than ever.
But what about trends in industries that aren’t hundreds or thousands of years old like the fashion or economic markets? What about the online space? And to take it a step further, Influencer Marketing in particular. Influencer Marketing is an industry that is barely over a decade old. This is an industry created by women with a passion for sharing what they love on the internet at a time when getting on Instagram wasn’t flooded with ads or businesses looking to make a profit. This is an industry created by women who were under 25 years old at the time and have grown up alongside the boom of Influencer Marketing.
Over the past decade, this industry has become mainstream.
Consumers know what to expect from influencers, they know not to trust every recommendation, and influencers legally have to disclose which content is a paid ad to their audiences. While the industry is still developing, it has already become tired. What used to be a 2000 character blog post is now a 15 second Reels. What used to be a curated ad feed post is now a 3 slide Instagram Story. Consumers know what to expect – and they’re ready for the next big thing.
The reality is, we have yet to see trend cycling happen in Influencer Marketing. Until now.
Over the past 9 months, a new industry has popped up. Again, created by women who are under 25 years old – but with a new mindset. Due to the overwhelm of curated, filtered and too-pretty-for-real-life influencer content, consumers are craving more real life, lived in content from brands. We’re seeing this convert at a much higher rate than content created by influencers in certain markets. What was originally dubbed as User Generated Content, content created by organic users of a product/service who organically shared this to their pages, has now become its own industry. The rise of User Generated Content Creators is now.
User Generated Content Creators are young, typically Gen Z, content creators who have an aesthetic eye for creating imagery and video that captures the essence of a brand’s product/service. These creators are now being hired by brands to create content that feels organic, but is actually created for and owned by the brand itself. The biggest difference between UGC Creators and Influencers is that UGC Creators work for the brand and all content rights belong to the brand. They are not posting this content to their own profiles. This is in stark contrast to Influencer Marketing where one of the big goals is to tap into the Influencer’s audience first, and then repurpose the content to the brands page second. There are pros and cons to utilizing both industries – what is important to note here is the overarching trend.
At the core of this evolution, what we’re really seeing here is a life cycle of going back to where Influencer Marketing began.
Before the influencer market was even created, these content creators were essentially just posting UGC. They created a personality that built trust, connected with their audience, and got noticed by brands. It was organic, it was raw, it was real. For many influencers, it was during this time of organic posting that they saw the most audience growth. This tells us that over the course of the past decade, what consumers are truly looking for at the core of it all is authentic content. They want to find community and build trust with people who can test and tell us about products we otherwise wouldn’t have found. The fact that this push for “authentic content” has gone as far as to create an entirely new industry is incredibly interesting.
Here’s what this tells us: influencers will need to innovate and adapt. If UGC Creators take brands’ ad spend away from influencers and reorient it to essentially create in-house content, influencers will lose much of their typical revenue. This poses the question, “what does the future of Influencer Marketing really look like?”. Will influencers once again go back to their roots of UGC creation or will they innovate in their own way to keep brands interested and their audience buying?
Our prediction is that the UGC Creator space is going to take off over the next several years.
There is a lot of white space in this brand new industry and it’s an exciting time to see who the big creators will be – and if they will even get the recognition for the content they are creating. Will these creators build an online presence of their own? Right now, many UGC Creators utilize their Instagram account as their resume – will that change if brands own the rights to the content they are creating for them? It likely will. Either way, the content that these creators will produce will change the future of both Influencer Marketing and branded content. These creators are young, content + trend savvy, and more innovative than the influencers that came before them.
It is an exciting time to see such massive shifts happening in the online space. As a brand, it’s important to be aware of your options, and where your ad spend should be allocated. Stay up to date with our trend forecasts over on Instagram and at ninetyfivemedia.co.