5 Influencer Marketing Lessons We Learned From 2020

Here are 5 lessons we learned in 2020 to apply to your 2021 marketing strategy.

Lena Young
January 11, 2021

You know what they say, “new year, new influencer marketing strategy!” Do they say that? Well, they should. 

As we enter 2021 some things may still feel the same; masks, lockdowns, and working from home and our pajamas. But, one thing that is certainly different, is the knowledge we have gained from the last year. As marketers, we observed resilience and adaptability in our industry that can not go unnoticed. 

We’ve identified 5 key takeaways from 2020 that should have a lasting impact on overall marketing strategies.

Lesson 1: Value-Based Marketing Strategy

One of the key lessons of 2020 was the importance of brands engaging in social discourse. While in the past less was often considered more, 2020 flipped the script and staying silent was no longer an option. Consumers expected more. They wanted to know that the brands they were supporting financially did not contradict their values. And, as 2020 presented important political and social moments, consumers expected transparency and accountability from brands. We want to know where a brand stands on issues that impact our day to day lives.

A turning point in social discourse and brand-consumer relations was during the Black Lives Matter protests of June 2020. This was one of the first times major organizations came forward with a clear statement on a major social issue. 


Many customers were pleased to see brands acknowledge the importance of this movement but did not want it to be a one time action. And, were raising concerns that brands were confusing performative activism with allyship.

How Can Your Brand Avoid Performative Activism?

Performative Activism:

activism aimed at increasing social value rather than an actual devotion to a social cause.


The average social media users weren’t born yesterday. They are most likely younger than me and you, but they have experience and they can detect authenticity. One thing that really does not sit well with the average Gen Z user is a brand piggybacking off an important social issue to appear #woke. 

To avoid engaging in performative activism, it is important that allyship is genuine. This means you should be supporting causes that align with brand values, marketers are educated on, and which are supported by marketing initiative and product offering. 

3 Brands Who Got Value-Based Marketing Right

Example 1: Dove Support the LGBT Community

Dove’s brand ethos has been equality, diversity, and fair-representation. As a beauty brand, Dove is strongly dedicated to erasing biased and unattainable beauty standards and creating visibility for all. 

In the #ShowUS campaign, the brand partnered with a Transgender biologist to spread visibility and break beauty stereotypes surrounding transgender representation. 

Why It Works: This campaign perfectly aligns with Dove’s past campaigns. It is not a random piece of content, rather it contributes to a larger conversation the brand has been having with its audience. 

Example 2: Patagonia Defends the Environment 

Patagonia is one of the largest outdoor apparel brands in the world. But, they are more than a clothing brand, they are a lifestyle brand. Patagonia customers are nature lovers; hikers, campers, bikers, rock climbers. People who respect and appreciate the beauty of nature.  Meaning, it’s not just a brand that sells clothes to be worn in nature, but it is a brand dedicated to preserving the earth’s natural resources. 

Patagonia’s Instagram feed is a constant information feed on the dangers of climate change and environmental degradation. As well as discussing the benefits of renewable energies and upcycling. 

Why It Works: Nothing about Patagonia’s campaign feels promotional. They have long championed for fairer environmental practices Asserting Patagonia such practices helps environmentally conscious consumers find a brand that aligns with their core values. 

Example 3: Warby Parker and Voter Registration

This is a clever campaign because it carefully aligns a brand’s product with brand values. Warby Parker is a glasses and sunglasses retailer, well-known for the ability to seamlessly shop for glasses online. 

In a campaign promoting National Voter Registration Day, the brand helped people that were “looking” (get it?) for facts about voting. Leading up to the US Presidential election Warby Parker had shared similar posts offering generalized facts to help inform their primarily Millenial and Gen Z audience. 

Why It Works: Fact-checking aligns with the expectations of Warby Parker’s audience. Gen Z and Millenials want to trust a brand, and that means a brand is honest and reliable. Showing that you take the time to research important information relevant for your clients, will only help gain trust and show your overall value. 

What Else Did We Learn In 2020?

2020 was a year of extremes, and 2021 is certainly off to an interesting start. But, this time we are more prepared. Let’s take the positive lessons from 2020 and apply them to our 2021 strategy.

Download our full report for our analysis of the key marketing takeaways from 2020.