- Influencer marketing activity on Instagram surged this year as more brands partner with social media personalities to reach younger consumers on their smartphones, according to a study by social media analytics firm Klear that was shared with sister publication Mobile Marketer. The number of posts with the #ad hashtag indicating an Instagram post is sponsored has risen 48% to more than 3 million this year.
- Millennials dominated influencer marketing, with more than half (54%) of Instagram influencer content created by people ages 25 to 34, while only 34% of the app's user base is in that age group. Micro-influencers, who typically have a following of 5,000 to 30,000 on Instagram, accounted for 90% of branded partnerships on the platform, Klear found.
- Influencers also boosted their adoption of Instagram Stories, which string together several images or videos into a single post that disappears after 24 hours. The number of Instagram Stories posts per influencer has risen 20% this year to an average of 3.6 a day, indicating the growing popularity of the format. Beauty was the most popular product category mentioned in Stories, making up 25% of sponsored posts, followed by 24% for fashion and 19% for food.
Influencer marketing continues to surge as advertisers seek to reach younger consumers where they spend their time, namely with social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Klear's study supports other research that points to an uptick in influencer marketing, which is forecast to grow to as much as $15 billion in spending by 2022 from $8 billion this year, according to Mediakix data cited in Business Insider.
While influencer marketing clearly retains appeal with key demographics like millennials, brands might need to be choosier about their partners. Analytics firm InfluencerDB reported earlier this year that engagement rates for Instagram influencer content were hovering near all-time lows amid a deluge of sponsored content on the platform.
One way marketers are trying to keep their approach fresh is by working with smaller partners versus huge social stars. Klear's research highlights the importance of micro-influencers in helping brands to reach highly engaged audiences. Micro-influencers comprise 40% of brands' annual influencer spending versus 28% for celebrity influencers, per a March survey by Rakuten Marketing.
Instagram has solidified its position as one of the leading influencer platforms, with almost 80% of brands using the image-sharing app most frequently for influencer campaigns, making it more popular than Facebook (46%), YouTube (46%), Twitter (24%) and LinkedIn (12%), per Influencer Marketing Hub. Instagram's role in the space has grown with its user base, which researcher eMarketer forecasts will increase by 5.4% to 112.5 million U.S. users next year.
Even as it continues to climb as an influencer destination, Instagram has made tweaks that recognize its forward presentation of frequently glossy, idealized lifestyles from celebrities and social media personalities can be bad for user health. It is starting to remove the "like" button, for example, in a change reportedly intended to make people feel less self-conscious about posting, and therefore post more often. But likes are also a metric that helps track engagement with influencer content, which has stirred debate about whether removing them will help or hurt the industry.
It's less clear how many brands have adopted TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch for influencer campaigns, with a recent study by Morning Consult suggesting the platforms aren't dominant services for following influencers. However, it's important not to ignore these less crowded platforms, given their reach and preference among Gen Z and the emerging Gen Alpha contingent.