(Editor’s note: Launchmetrics sent out its survey between January 13 and February 21, 2020 though its latest report also includes a more recent analysis of COVID-19’s impact on the influencer marketing industry).
Sponsored content on Instagram has gone from representing 35 percent of all influencer posts in mid-February to four percent after COVID, according to a Launchmetrics report, “The State of Influencer Marketing 2020,” which focuses on the fashion, luxury and beauty industries.
As consumers shift away from the product-centric world that influencers helped strengthen, influencers and brands alike must play a social and responsible role to satisfy consumers’ needs and express brand values amid coronavirus. The reliability and connectivity that made influencers popular in the first place is especially important now as influencers have been forced to cut their rates and brands must outsource creative.
To keep viewers engaged, influencers and brands have flocked to Instagram Stories and Live. Instagram Live daily mentions increased 288 percent from March 14-April 15, according to a Klear survey of over 1,000 Instagram users. Additionally, Klear reports Instagram story impressions have increased 21 percent from March 14-March 21.
Launchmetrics’ findings suggest that post-COVID, influencer marketing will no longer be a top-down approach but instead one in which influencers set the content development process to suit their existing audiences. As the pandemic lessens the need for product-led activations, influencers will have more control over the direction of content.
In any case, Launchmetrics’ pre-COVID findings show that influencer marketing remains a priority for brands; 94 percent of respondents said they find influencer marketing effective for driving sales, up 18 percent compared to 2019.
Brands are investing the most in influencer marketing in Europe, likely because of the large presence luxury and fashion industries have there. Brands are also starting to favor Asia as a top market for influencer campaigns, as Chinese consumers expected to comprise 46 percent of luxury goods purchases by 2025.
Before the outbreak, Launchmetrics respondents reported having increased influencer budgets by between 10 percent and 30 percent in 2020. Thirty-nine percent said that their brand invested over $20,000 a year in influencer programs. Similarly, the amount of respondents investing over $10,000 increased by 10 percent compared to 2019.
The role of customers as influencers continues to rise as 56.3 percent of brands said they leveraged their customers as influencers in 2019.
While Instagram remains the most popular channels for influencer campaigns, Launchmetrics found that 42 percent of brands plan to include TikTok in their influencer marketing strategy. Among those who will focus on TikTok, 55 percent say it’s because they want to engage with a new consumer and 11 percent cited wanting to leverage nano-influencers on the platform. More and more influencers are also creating content on TikTok, with 23 percent naming it one of their main channels.
Brands reported measurement and return on investment (ROI) justification as the primary challenges when managing influencer programs. Influencers have their own challenges when it comes to branded programs; the biggest pain point for them is still “unclear creative briefs” (56 percent) followed by “too many guidelines” (35 percent).
For its sixth annual report, Launchmetrics surveyed 600 professionals in marketing, communications and PR from the fashion, luxury and beauty industries, as well as 300 key opinion leaders in the US and Europe.