For many brands online influencer marketing remains an enigma: there are plenty of broad declarations about its future promise but few specifics on its present state.
Often it’s hard to determine how popular the approach is with other brands, which tactics and social platforms are working, what influencers are charging, and how success is being measured.
So, what are the answers? Which are the key data points about influencer marketing you should be aware of?
To find out what the most recent research and analyst reports tell us, take a look at the overview below, as well as MDG’s new infographic, The State of Influencer Marketing: What Every Brand Needs to Know.
The Maturity of Programs and Budget Plans
How popular is influencer marketing? Very. It’s estimated that brands are already spending more than half a billion dollars on Instagram campaigns alone.
Two-thirds of businesses say they’re running some sort of online influencer program. However, the sophistication of these engagements varies widely.
Maturity of Brands’ Influencer Programs
- 48% are experimenting with influencer marketing
- 28% are running individual campaigns
- 24% have implemented ongoing programs
In terms of budget, nearly half of all brands plan to increase their influencer spend in the future.
Brands’ Influencer Marketing Budget Plans
- 48% plan to increase spend
- 23% plan to keep spend the same
- 4% plan to decrease spend
- 25% are unsure about their plans
The takeaway here is that online influencer marketing is already big and set to grow quickly. That said, most brands are still in the experimentation phase with the tactic.
The Biggest Benefits and Challenges
Why are brands engaging in influencer marketing? The core motivations fall into two buckets: to reach specific/new audiences and to get fresh content from sources consumers trust.
Why Brands Say They Engage in Influencer Marketing
- To reach relevant audiences
- For authenticity/trusted voices
- To drive engagement
- For more organic reach
- To spark word-of-mouth
- To create quality content
While there are major advantages to influencer marketing, brands say there are also a number of key ways in which the approach could be improved.
What Brands Want Improved with Influencer Marketing
- Better ROI measurement
- Improved influence tracking
- Easier influencer discovery
- Enhanced reporting of results
- Streamlined vetting of influencers
- Simplified influencer management
Essentially, brands see major benefits from influencer marketing (audience engagement, content creation, etc.) but want the mechanics (measurement, management, etc.) to develop.
The Most Effective Tactics and Approaches
Which influencer marketing tactics work well? Generally, brands say they’re seeing the best results from long-term engagements such as brand ambassadorships rather than one-offs.
Most Effective Influencer Marketing Tactics
- Ongoing ambassadorships
- Product reviews
- Brand mentions
- Event coverage
- Sponsored content
Marketers say the most effective content comes from credible, experienced influencers.
What Makes Influencer Posts Effective?
- The credibility of the influencer
- Whether the influencer has used the product/service
- The influencer’s expertise in the product/service category
- How much detail the influencer provides in their posts
While big celebrity influencers may get most of the attention, the learning here is that truly effective campaigns tend to be ongoing and involve vertical-specific experts.
The Top Social Networks for Influencer Marketing
Which social networks are brands running their influencer campaigns on? The most popular platforms are Facebook-owned Instagram and Facebook itself.
Top Social Networks With Brands
When asked which social networks are their top platforms for engagement, influencers mainly echo brands’ favorites.
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The Top Social Networks WIth Influencers
The major difference between these two lists is Twitter; the network remains popular with brands for influencer campaigns but has somewhat fallen out of favor with influencers themselves.
The Costs of Programs and Payment Structures
How are brands compensating influencers? The most popular method is to pay per post/campaign, though some marketers are now paying based on engagement.
Payment Models Most Used by Brands
- Pay per post/campaign
- Cost per engagement
- Free products/services/experiences
As for cost, it depends based on the specific influencer and industry.
Average Cost Per Influencer Instagram Post
Pricing varies significantly by vertical…
- Modeling influencer: $434 per post
- Music influencer: $201
…and by audience size
- Influencer with 100k+ followers: $763 per post
- Influencer with under 1,000 followers: $82
As is to be expected, influencers price their services based on demand; those with the biggest audiences and those who specialize in in-demand verticals are increasingly charging more.
The Most-Used and Most-Valued Metrics
Finally, how are brands measuring success? Currently, the most-used metrics are the ones such as engagement and traffic.
The Most-Used Influencer Metrics by Brands
However, the most-valued metrics by brands are not the same as the most-used ones.
The Most-Valued Influencer Metrics by Brands
Right now, brands are relying on metrics they can easily access, such as engagement. What they really want, though, are metrics that more accurately show audience reach and reaction.
Ultimately, that trend with measurement echoes the general state of influencer marketing today—brands are already engaging in certain ways, but those approaches are likely to change rapidly as the field matures in the coming years.
To find out more, check out the full infographic, The State of Influencer Marketing: What Every Brand Needs to Know.
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