The Rise of Gigfluencers: Why Influencer Marketing Is Starting to Grow

A more diverse group of first-time influencers are starting side hustles as a way to supplement their existing income.

Written by Amy Choi
Published on May. 26, 2021
The Rise of Gigfluencers: Why Influencer Marketing Is Starting to Grow
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Influencer marketing is a great strategy for brands to connect with their target audiences in truly authentic and organic ways. Social media is becoming increasingly ingrained in the daily lives of consumers around the world — as more than 53 percent of the world’s population uses social media in some way, with the average rate of daily usage around 2 hours and 25 minutes. 

As more people use social media more often, the influencer marketing industry grows in parallel. In fact, the industry is expected to grow to $13.8 billion this year — up from $9.8 billion in 2020. Brands are reaping the benefits of social influence, and those benefits are only going to continue to grow going forward. 

With that said, as the industry continues to grow it is also evolving. At ShopStyle Collective, we recently surveyed the influencer community to see how this growth is affecting the landscape overall — especially during such an unprecedented time, during a global pandemic.

The study found that more than half (53 percent) of all first-time influencers during this time were already employed. We call this group of people “gigfluencers,” as they’re leveraging their social profiles in the same way that others might operate in the gig economy.

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What’s the Difference Between a Gigfluencer and a Micro-Influencer?

Gigfluencers are similar to micro-influencers, with a couple of key differences:

  1. They’re already employed and becoming first-time influencers as a side gig.

  2. They’re motivationally and demographically different from micro-influencers of the past.

Gigfluencers make up a rapidly  growing segment of individuals from various backgrounds and walks of life are finding their niche and becoming influencers for the first time. They’ve developed their own unique tone and voice, honed in on their individual passions to inspire their content and strategized about how they are going to approach monetizing across their channels.

For example, there is greater representation of people who identify as Black and Hispanic in the gigfluencer category (43 percent) versus those who monetized pre-pandemic (31 percent). Additionally, there are more men in this emerging group of gigluencers than there were pre-pandemic — as there were more men (56 percent) than women monetizing their social media and online content for the first time in the first few months of the pandemic as well. 

Thanks to the increasing diversity of new people entering the market, consumers now have access to more types of influencers that better match with their own individual identities and can be reached and interacted with on more platforms than ever before.


More Ways for Brands to Get Involved

Just as there are more opportunities for consumers to interact with influencers that match with them as individuals, there are more opportunities for brands across all different industries and segments to invest in influencer marketing for the first time.

As a brand grows, an influencer strategy becomes an important layer of the overall marketing mix that allows for brands to get in front of consumers at every touchpoint — whether it be through social, email, SMS, etc. With this new gigfluencer trend, brands that are just now starting to think about influencer marketing have access to a wider range of influencers that can meet any and all of their audience needs. 


How Can Your Brand Get Started?

Beyond the growth of the influencer landscape as a whole, the ways in which brands can work with influencers is continuing to evolve as well. It can be a bit intimidating to dive into influencer marketing for the first time, but there are strategies that can help brands set themselves up for success. 

For example, those that are starting to invest in influencer marketing would benefit from beginning with broader brand awareness campaigns. These can help get a brand’s message out there — and even begin influencing other influencers to become interested in working with the brand.

Once a brand is more established within the social landscape, they can develop an affiliate influencer strategy by allowing influencers to create affiliate links to products that are organically integrated within their content. This affiliate strategy allows brands to maintain an evergreen approach in influencer marketing, helping foster long-term relationships with influencers who drive significant awareness and ROI for them over time. Layering in tentpole and key sponsored campaigns during various touch points throughout the year in an “always on” approach is key in building long term strategy.

The gigfluencer trend has shown us that the influencer landscape is going to continue to evolve in ways that make influencers more diverse and accessible than ever before. Brands across all industries should be thinking about how they can get ahead of this trend and start to leverage gigfluencers as part of their future marketing strategies.

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