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Opinion

The Rise of Gigfluencers

The influencer marketing industry is growing at a rapid pace—recent studies have shown that the industry will grow to approximately $13.8 billion this year. While influencers are continuing to grow in number, and more brands are investing in influencer marketing strategies than ever before, the landscape is fundamentally evolving.

Society’s perception of the quintessential influencer is changing. Influencers no longer have a stigma of just being young, white females that are into fashion and beauty. We’re now seeing more people from more walks of life find ways to monetise their content and promote brands, products and industries that are important to them – like gaming, finance, travel, and so much more.

Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape is continuing to evolve in more ways than one. People that used to spend hours traveling to and from work have more time on their hands. Others who were financially impacted by the pandemic were looking for ways to supplement their income. A recent study found that 53% of all first-time influencers during the pandemic were already employed. As a result, people are now becoming influencers as a ‘side gig’ – a group of people that some may call ‘gigfluencers’. 

So, who exactly are these Gigfluencers? 

A gigfluencer is simply someone who is an influencer but doesn’t use social media as their primary source of income. More specifically, they are influencers who either started to monetise their content for the first time, or re-attempted to monetise their content around the start of the COVID-19 lockdown back in March of 2020. 

Though what’s most interesting about this group of people is how they’re demographically diverse – adding to the departure from that quintessential influencer mentioned prior. Gigfluencers are more likely to be men, as there were more men (56%) than women monetising their social media and online content for the first time in the first few months of the pandemic. There is also greater representation of people who identify as black and Hispanic in the gigfluencer category (43%) versus influencers who monetised pre-pandemic (31%).

This shows that not only is the identity of the typical influencer changing, the motive for becoming an influencer is evolving as well. 

Putting this into perspective

Understanding that there is this new category of influencer that has emerged, it’s important to reflect on what this means for the influencer landscape overall. What does this mean for brands that currently invest in influencer marketing strategies, as well as brands that are just starting to leverage influencers? On the flip side, how does this impact the ways in which influencers work with brands, or how does this open the door for other aspiring influencers to get involved?

The answers to all of these questions are somewhat intertwined. More brands in more industries now have access to influencers that might better represent their beliefs and their identities. For example, as more male influencers come into the fold, there’s more of an incentive for brands that operate in predominantly male industries to start investing in influencers. 

On the influencer side, this trend not only solidifies that influencers are becoming increasingly diverse across the board – it opens the opportunity for people to leverage influencer channels to achieve various career goals. This only helps make the influencer landscape increasingly inclusive.  

The importance of nano and micro influencers in a brand’s strategy

Gigfluencers primarily fall into the ‘nano’ or ‘micro’ influencer tiers, which are defined by having anywhere from 1000-100k followers. Brands have traditionally focused more on top-tier influencers that boast over 750k followers, however it’s wise to integrate a 360, multi-tiered strategy – paying attention to both micro and nano influencers. 

Micro influencers are great for diversification of audience and driving sales, as they typically have very engaged followers and have started to learn how to convert those followers into buyers. On the other end, nano influencers can help brands build trust and tap into relationships with local communities. Also, if nano and micro influencers follow the right path, they’ll eventually find themselves in that top-tier. Brands that build relationships with these influencers early on in their careers will then greatly benefit. 

Affiliate is more important than ever before

This gigfluencer trend aside, an increase in first-time influencers means that the ways in which brands work with influencers needs to evolve in parallel. Affiliate links are known to be a great strategy to help influencers who are just starting out. It helps them earn commission on their content without necessarily having large, dedicated followings or established relationships with brands.

Since gigfluencers have full-time careers and are only using social as a way to supplement existing income, tools like affiliate are crucial to helping these new influencers monetise their content with the limited amount of free time that they may have. Especially if an influencer is looking to monetise across all their social channels, affiliate is a proven strategy to help drive success for newer influencers across the board. Going forward, affiliate will continue to be an important tool for these, and all other new influencer segments that emerge as the industry continues to evolve.

The pandemic was a key driver for this emerging gigfluencer trend, but there are always going to be external factors that dictate how the influencer landscape grows and changes. The common thread among all these emerging trends in the ways in which it makes becoming and working with influencers increasingly inclusive. It will be exciting to see what continues to propel that trend forward in the future.

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