Influencer marketing is now the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, ahead of organic search, paid search and email marketing, according to a Tomoson influencer marketing study. A 2022 Influencer Marketing Hub benchmark report indicates the industry should grow to approximately $16.4 billion in 2022, up from $6.5B in 2019 and $1.7B in 2016.
This new channel is effective because it taps into a cultural zeitgeist born of social media and self-publishing. Consumers today want to connect with companies in more authentic ways through trusted, peer recommendations and advocacy rather than polished brand marketing. They want to engage with brands, not be talked at by them.
Influencers fill that role, and they do so in numerous ways. Brands can partner with influencers (currently the top revenue stream in influencer marketing) or work through agencies that coordinate multiple influencers. We are in the nascent stage of influencer marketing, and the options for harnessing its power are becoming more sophisticated.
What Exactly Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is social media marketing approach that utilizes product mentions, tests, comparisons, recommendations and endorsements from people who have cultivated a social following within a niche. Positive associations between influencers and products serve as a form of social proof to a brand’s audience, and recommendations seem more trustworthy because they come from a trusted third-party source.
Because influencers can directly communicate with audiences that brands want to reach, they are a step ahead of many brands in reaching potential consumers. So, it makes sense for brands to invest in exposure to these engaged audiences. Business Insider’s Influencer Marketing Report found that the average influencer engagement rate across industry verticals was 5.7%, while the average engagement rate for brands on Instagram alone was between 2% and 3% in 2018.
Examples of Influencer Content and Platforms
Once influencers generate positive impressions of brands through their channels, they can build brand awareness and drive leads to brand websites and social platforms. Here are a few examples of effective influencer content:
- Product reviews and comparisons
- Unboxing videos
- Fashion try-ons
- Product giveaways
- Product placements in video content
- Promotion of new product launches
- Event promotions
- Coverage of brand news and presence at industry events
- Sharing coupon codes and exclusive deals
- Partnering to create co-branded products or campaigns
- Brand support of influencer causes and fundraisers
Statistics Every Marketer Should Know
Both marketers and consumers agree: influencers have a strong foothold in marketing because they are trusted and effective. Marketers are increasing their influencer spending, and consumers trust and engage with influencers. Consider the following statistics that are shaping the marketing field today:
- According to eMarketer, while the share of U.S. marketers using social media has held steady at between 91% and 92% since 2019, 55.4% of marketers leveraged influencer marketing in 2019. Moreover, that percentage has risen to a projected 73% by the end of 2022, for a total increase of 17%.
- eMarketer research also reveals that 68% of U.S. marketers will likely use influencer marketing for paid or unpaid campaigns in 2022.
- According to gated Grin research, published on Tinuiti, more than 50% of consumers state that word-of-mouth and social media are their preferred ways to discover new brands.
- More than 90% of consumers engage influencers every week on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat, according to gated Statista research.
Developing an Influencer Strategy
One of the most significant benefits of tapping into influencer marketing is the potential to achieve specific marketing goals, whether building a brand presence in a new market or quickly targeting consumers for a new product. A strategy begins with social listening to identify where audiences congregate and engage around topics and discover the most influential voices.
Celebrities and macro-influencers with millions of followers are often represented by agencies and perfect for rapid market exposure to generate buzz and emotion around brands. Big influencers start trends. Midrange and micro-influencers have smaller audiences but can often focus on product features and benefits while generating engagement and interest around these topics.
Influencers use many platforms, and savvy marketers choose influencers who engage the right demographics on platforms that reach them most effectively. For example, beauty and fashion influencers do well on Instagram and YouTube, sports brand influencers prefer Twitter and podcasts and video-game influencers and their audiences love Twitch.
The appeal of influencer marketing to consumers is undeniable, and this area is poised for explosive growth going forward. As a marketing professional, your growing knowledge and experience with influencer marketing will undoubtedly enhance your career prospects.