Influencer marketing statistics make for good headlines, but often the story behind the statistic is more interesting.
This recent article, for example, led with the claim that 71% of marketers are boosting their influencer marketing budget this year. But what does that look like ‘on the ground’? Have all Influence Network clients just handed us 71% more cash?! Or is there a bit more nuance to the headline statistics?
Here’s our experience of living these numbers day to day, from the 71% figure on down through a few of the more interesting statistical claims.
We have seen an overall increase in spending and increased dedication to influencer marketing as a high performing channel.
Clients who may have run one campaign per quarter want to run two and several clients are starting on retained arrangements, to secure a constant supply of authentic, influencer marketing bordering on advocation.
But the really interesting factor behind this statistic is that it’s easy to read the 71% increase as an increased amount of marketing. Whilst this is true for some clients, actually a lot of the increase in spend we’re seeing is to combat challenges with campaign delivery.
Influencer discovery, for example, is expensive for agencies to handle in-house. This may not be tracked as ‘influencer spending’ - instead it’s just an overhead as part of team salaries. Outsourcing that to a platform such as Influence Network may trigger an ‘increase’ in spending, but in reality it is spending to generate an internal saving and solve a long-running influencer campaign delivery issue, rather than an increase in campaign volume.
The bottom line is that whilst there is a general increase in spending it isn’t always a general increase in campaign activity. Instead, the increase in spending happening at the moment involves a high proportion of spending to increase and streamline processes, delivery and results of existing campaigns.
This is paired with the statistics that “only 14% said they were working with celebrities” and “the vast majority prefer to work with micro-influencers”.
Combined, these absolutely represent a fair picture of how most brands and agencies prefer to work.
The figures for reach and engagement relative to direct spend with influencers favours working with micro to mid-tier influencers over celebrity influencers by a significant margin. By definition, to achieve the size of reach needed, agencies often need to engage with several influencers at the micro tier level.
Long predicted as ‘the future’, this is now the predominant structure behind most influencer marketing campaigns.
TikTok statistics have made for popular headlines recently and it is true that brands increasingly want to be involved with the platform (Influence Network discovery has included TikTok since early in 2020, for example).
However, it is also true that “Instagram is still the favourite platform for brands”, with 93% running campaigns through posts and 83% using stories.
TikTok headlines often seem to suggest that there is a gravitational pull from Instagram to the new hottest thing. In actuality brands are keen to make sure they do not miss out on another channel, particularly if they work with a younger audience, but are also fiercely committed to the success seen on Instagram.
TikTok presents plentiful influencer opportunities but in our experience, these opportunities tend to be run alongside, not instead of, campaigns on ‘Insta’.
These absolutely reflect sector concerns we see on a daily basis.
Agencies need to show ROI to brands constantly and influencer marketing is no exception.
The issue is that influencer marketing can often focus on and generate brand building metrics, rather than direct sales.
Platforms can help agencies to show ROI, but another move is afoot. There is an increasing groundswell towards agencies running sales driven campaigns, in the hope of showing ROI more directly. We’ve written about the likely move to and success of these campaigns in more depth here.
Meanwhile, accounting for the time it takes to manage influencer campaigns is something we touched on earlier.
To launch a campaign agencies need to find influencers, come to an agreement, brief them, review their work, approve or amend their creative content and then pay and re-engage with them, if appropriate.
That is a lot of work and agencies are increasingly tracking just how much time is spent on doing the process properly.
As measurement increases agencies will adjust their own structures and commercials and look to achieve time and cost savings for themselves and their clients.
The story behind these five statistics sometimes differs wildly from the headlines they are used in.
Context is everything, making for better understanding of why certain figures show up and what they mean for those within the sector.
Working closely with agencies and influencers we’ll continue to help our partners to understand new trends and reflect on sector analysis to deliver the very best influencer marketing campaigns they can.
Influencer Marketing, Martech and Marketplace expert
Robust debate, constructive challenge, and a relentless pursuit of growth, improvement and efficiency enable Alec to cut to the core of the issue. Alec currently holds executive directorships at Influence Network an AI-driven influencer tech platform and equitable, The Private Equity Portfolio Talent Network, alongside non-executive and advisory roles at a number of marketing, ad tech and technology startups.
Executive experience in:
- Advertising, marketing, media, PR agencies - both independent and Big 5 agency networks in the UK, UAE (Dubai) and globally.
- Sales & Marketing strategy, planning and delivery
- Start Up and Scale Up with 400% YonY Growth
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© 2021 Influence Network.
Registered in England and Wales: 10815710
20-22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU