Perfecting a graceful influencer marketing ballet involves two components: a well-directed orchestra and Misty Copeland. Just kidding. The two key pieces are actually influencers and consumers. Without either of these, the thing just wouldn’t work and wouldn’t be a thing.
If you read my last post (“What Is Influencer Marketing?”), you should have a good starting framework to understand this influencer-consumer back and forth. To dive deeper into the connection, though, I’d like to use some stats and figures to draw out the real power of influencer marketing.
These influencer stats are, of course, one part of the big picture. If your brand is considering a new influencer marketing program, you’ll want to spend some time understanding how consumers and brands interact in your industry. What works for eyeliner might not work for radial tires.
Without further preamble…
Influencer Marketing Stats: Consumer Reach
80% of Instagram Users Follow a Business
This stat from Instagram’s own mouth mirrors the consumer research we’ve done here at Gartner. Some social media platforms lend themselves to brand-consumer interactions, and Instagram is near the top.
For consumers, the visual nature of the platform makes it an easy fit for following brands. People are used to shopping online or through catalogs, both of which are filled with images of products and smiling people.
Influencers on Instagram can seamlessly slide into a business-friendly ecosystem, allowing them to start promoting products without a lot of preamble. Consumers are ready and willing to be marketed to, though “marketed to” and “sold to” can mean wildly different things.
68% of Users Come to Instagram to See and Interact With Creative Types
In 2018, an Ipsos survey (commissioned by Facebook) found that most Instagram users were actually drawn to the platform by the creators who also post there. The interesting part of this, for marketers, is the implied willingness of consumers to engage.
By showing up to find and interact with creators, Instagram users are seeking out other consumers making a splash. The real beauty of this system is the immediacy and transparency it affords users.
Think back to 1981. Ringo Starr had just dropped his eighth (the dude is prolific) studio album, Stop and Smell the Roses. You loved it … the emotional ups and downs, the cover art and cavalcade of Beatles influences running through the thing.
You wrote a letter to Ringo in 1981 and, three years later, he wrote back. What a professional. Today, you fired up Give More Love, Ringo’s nineteenth studio album (told you, dude is prolific) and fell in love all over again. You hit him up on Instagram and, minutes later, he said thanks.
The immediacy of creator interactions makes Instagram the perfect platform for developing dialogues and relationships. Influencers can use that system to build real trust and promote products in a powerful way to consumers. Consumers love it, because they feel like they have a real connection with someone they admire.
Over 40% of Influencers Are Between 18 and 24 Years Old
A study from eMarketer found that influencers are largely on the younger end of the spectrum. While 42% fell into the 18 to 24 age range, almost 75% ended up under the age of 35. That’s a heaping helping of Gen Z and Millennial consumers, all looking to make a buck with a side hustle.
That’s great news for marketers, because it allows them to build relationships with an influencer demographic that can directly and authentically engage their target-shopper demographic. These consumers are living a post-recession life, with many carrying student debt or fighting the employment fight.
It can help brands make connections with consumers by letting the very consumer they’re looking for pitch their products. American Eagle leveraged this youthful face with its AExME Council. The idea of the project is for American Eagle to work with a council of young influencers and activists to help guide the company.
Posts from these members engage with their peers, which are, coincidentally, American Eagle’s target demo. By letting the younger generations take the reins, American Eagle avoids the risk of sounding like out-of-touch kids. #Clever.
Influencer Marketing Stats: Marketer Activity
The Influencer Marketing Industry Will Reach $6.5 Billion in 2019
Influencer marketing has been on a tear in the last few years. Realizing the points noted above (money to be made, path to authenticity, etc.), marketers are embracing influencer marketing across industries. According to a report from Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer marketing industry will grow from $4.6 billion in 2018 to $6.5 billion in 2019. That’s a 41% increase year over year.
Such a large leap leaves room for skepticism. This kind of growth can’t go on forever, and at some point, marketing budgets will shrink or pause. When that happens, it’s hard to believe that influencer marketing will be the piece that brands choose to hold on to.
That’s not to say it won’t still be valuable. Consumers, especially younger ones, are looking for real connections online and they have the tools to build those connections. Influencer marketing supports that activity, giving brands a chance to make friends and influence people.
Influencer Marketing Platforms and Agencies Number 700+
According to a report from Influencer Marketing Hub, in 2018 there were 740 influencer marketing platforms and agencies. These are ways for brands to discover new influencers, research their social media platforms and manage influencer campaigns. The 740 options represent a huge increase from 2017, when there were just 420 such platforms and agencies in the mix.
For consumers, this isn’t just representative of an increase in interest from brands, it also highlights the way brands are increasingly working to turn the practice into a science. That means an increase in targeting accuracy, which means more consumers will see more content that resonates with them — or they’ll be more terrified of brands’ ability to find and sell to them. Who knows?
It’s important to remember that while very few consumers follow shifts in marketing technology and tactics, shoppers feel the impact of those tactics directly.
Smaller Accounts Can Generate More Activity
A study from Markerly found that smaller accounts often generate more comments on Instagram. There’s a sharp rise in activity up until an account hits about 1,000 followers. At that point, interaction begins to decline sharply, up until about the 10,000 follower mark, where declines slow down.
Consumers certainly suffer from the small-fish-in-a-big-pond problem with larger accounts. The interaction that would generate a response from an account with 5,000 followers will go unnoticed in an account with 500,000 followers.
For brands, that means finding a sweet spot between exposure and interaction. This will be different for every industry. For example, finding a midsize, interactive and regionally focused influencer in the food space might be simple. Finding the same thing in a car aficionado might require more searching.
Just 19% of Brands Manage Influencers In-House
According to a marketer survey from Linqia, most brands are outsourcing the management of their influencer programs. Forty-two percent use a turnkey provider and 18% outsource to agencies. Just 19% actually manage the whole process in-house.
This shouldn’t be too surprising, but it is interesting. Managing an influencer program in-house could mean working with dozens of small, niche influencers. Managing payments, schedules and campaigns for those influencers could probably generate a half-dozen new jobs at a major brand.
Instead, companies are handing the nitty gritty details over to experts, who manage those relationships. While that can save time and money, it also sets the brand up to be an extra step removed from its consumers. Brands need to do the hard work upfront to understand who they want to engage and how they want that engagement to run.
It also means being proactive on the back of an influencer campaign to make the next campaign even better. Strong analytics tools and reports from the third-party provider can go a long way to better understanding the needs and wants of consumers who engage online.
Take It to the Streets
Now that you’ve got a good understanding of the influencer marketing landscape, you can start strategizing. Keep in mind: This is a relatively new field and there are lots of providers out there attempting to help you manage your influencer program.
Some of those providers will be fantastic, but look for the success stories. Just because they have lots of big influencers doesn’t mean they have lots of effective influencers. Seek out the firms that understand the difference.
Also, if you bump into Ringo, tell him I said, “Hi.”