Every day, a larger sum of marketing dollars is spent on the influencer channel. In fact, a modest percentage of businesses already plan to spend half of their entire marketing budget on influencer marketing. Brands and businesses seeking to capture the 70% of internet users who already follow influencers are starting to recognize the key to the whole thing — it’s easier to sell to an existing fandom than to build an audience from scratch.
Revenue generated by the influencer sector is increasing exponentially YOY, and the tactic is expected to increase in valuation by about 53% from 2019 to 2022. Better yet, the ROI generated by influencers is typically the same or greater than other channels. For those not yet invested in this form of marketing, what are you waiting for?
Influencers are becoming more important to marketers
- 93% of surveyed marketers currently make use of influencer marketing. The popularity of this channel continues to grow alongside ubiquitous reports of success.
- However, only 37.3% of marketing and PR professionals worldwide currently use influencer platforms and tools. Though it may take time for the industry to fully commit, making use of these instruments will result in improved influencer campaigns.
- 63% of brands already work with influencers. Another 44% plan to collaborate with influencers in the next 12 months.
- According to 51% of marketers, influencer marketing results in better customers. Theoretically, this is due to the chatty nature of social media users, and their proclivity to spending more money than non-socially-engaged shoppers.
- Of those industry professionals who utilize influencer marketing, 64% use external partners to find relevant influencers. 63% also report using those external partners to manage the partnership.
- 86% of marketers report raising brand awareness as one of the top three objectives of influencer marketing campaigns. Secondary to brand awareness are “reaching new or targeted audiences” (74%), “improving brand advocacy” (69%), and “increasing sales conversion” (46%).
Shoppers respond to influencer marketing
- 52% of socially-engaged shoppers (consumers who follow influencers or converse with brands) purchase via social platforms, compared to 35% of all consumers. Consumers who are already scrolling through social feeds and reviewing influencer recommendations act as a voluntarily captive audience.
- Socially-engaged shoppers shop at least 5% more frequently in most categories. Specifically, these shops are increased by 5% in Bulk Item shopping, 8% in Fill-In Trip shopping, 6% in Regular Weekly Purchases, and 6% in Special Occasion shopping.
- 61% of consumers aged 18 to 34 reported that influencers did influence their decision-making. Young adult audiences are comfortable visiting online channels to gather data, elicit recommendations, and consume influencer content.
- 70% of internet users in the United States (and nearly 60% in the UK) actively follow influencers. Approximately 15% of those users discover new products or brands via influencer content.
- Shoppers tend to find influencer value in product reviews (39%), innovative uses/ideas for products (36%), and promotions (33%). The majority of influencer followers engage with influencers in the Food & Drink category, followed by Lifestyle, Beauty, Fashion, Tech, and Parenting/Family.
- 17% of US and UK internet users reported purchasing in the past month because of an influencer social media post. This response showed that influencers had as much sway over purchases as newsfeed ads and ads on ephemeral stories.
- 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers claim to relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities. Content creators are often capable of engaging with followers more often and more easily than traditional celebrities, and are better able to quickly tailor content to their specific audiences.
- 4 in 10 millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite creator understands them better than their friends. 60% would reportedly follow advice on what to buy from their favorite creator over their favorite TV or movie personality.
Instagram has the Wow factor
- As of 2019, more than 500,000 active influencers operate on Instagram alone, accounting for 39% of all accounts with more than 15,000 followers. Among this group of influencers, 81% have between 15,000 and 100,000 followers.
- Instagram is the most popular platform with a use rate of 100% of surveyed influencers. Facebook takes second at 85%, and YouTube third with 67%. Snapchat hits 44%, and Twitter 33%, followed by blogs on various platforms.
- Approximately 90% of all influencer campaigns include an Instagram strategy. Considering the platform’s massive, thoroughly-engaged user base, taking to Instagram is a no-brainer.
- The industry with the highest cooperation efficiency for Instagram influencers was healthcare. Healthcare-related influencer posts were 4.2x more efficient than brand posts.
- 69% of marketers already expect Instagram to account for most of their influencer marketing budget this year. With over 1 billion users, and attractive engagement stats, Instagram easily beats out contenders like YouTube as the most influencer-friendly platform.
- 78% of marketers reported that Instagram posts are the most effective format for influencer marketing. Instagram Stories rank as the second most popular content format for influencer marketing.
- In 2021, TikTok threatened to overthrow Instagram, reducing Instagram’s lead over other platforms by 68%. Social media influencer statistics for 2021 show that TikTok is gaining more ground — 45% of marketers now use the platform for influencer marketing purposes.
Larger audiences aren’t always better
- More than 60% of brand collaborations with influencers in 2020 were with influencers who had less than 50k followers. Engagement rate is typically highest at this level, and starts to taper off as follower numbers increase.
- Approximately 40% of all brand cooperations in 2019 and 2020 were with influencers at the 10k-50k follower level. Influencers with fewer than 100,000 followers accounted for an average of 93.9% of all brand cooperations.
- When evaluating influencer candidates, the top criteria for brands was the quality of followers at 96%. The credibility and reputation of the influencer also scored highly at 93%. Screening is critical. Followers must be authentic, and influencers must align with brand values to be successful.
- Concerns surrounding influencer marketing appear in four ways: consumer trust and blurred lines at 64%, legal and financial risks at 60%, reputational risks at 64% and brand safety risks at 59%. Trust and reputation top this list, pointing to the importance of relationship-building in influencer marketing.
- Concerns also surround the way in which influencers share brand relationships; 71% reported that the way the relationship is disclosed is a critical part of the selection process. Disclosure of collaborations must be handled delicately by the influencer to prevent alienation of brand or audience.
- Reach and views are the main KPIs used to assess influencer activity at 96%. Additional KPIs include engagement at 80%, traffic generated at 44%, and other earned media at 44%. 40% utilized research into audience sentiment.
The big numbers tell the real story
- The influencer industry is expected to be worth $15 billion by 2022. This valuation is up from $8 billion in 2019.
- An industry-wide average earned media value of $5.78 per dollar was achieved with influencer marketing in 2019, up from $5.20 in 2018. This rate of return is still growing; we’ve only just scratched the surface of influencer capabilities.
- Influencers account for more than half of the marketing budget for 17% of companies. Many marketers are diving in head-first, anticipating major gains as a result of influencer work.
- 89% of surveyed marketers report that ROI from influencer marketing is similar or better than other channels. Attributing marketing dollars to the influencer channel is relatively risk-free according to this statistic; volatility and cannibalization should not be significant concerns.