Influencers are essential for success in the digital-first era. To get a better understanding of marketers’ current experiences with creators, Open Influence conducted research in 2021 among US marketers—from beginners to experts—whose annual spend on influencers ranges from $50,000 or less to more than $1 million.
Its new state of influencer and creator marketing report 2022 covers:
- Which social media platform is preferred by marketers
- What type of influencer content are brands using
- How brands choose influencers
- Marketers’ projected future plans in the industry
2022 Influencer Budgets
Seventy-one percent of marketers said they expected their budgets to increase in 2022 while 18 percent said they’d stay the same. Only 5 percent anticipated a decline.
According to the data, the top reasons brands use influencers are:
- Social amplification (84 percent)
- Engaging hard to reach consumers (71 percent)
- Creative partnership (57 percent)
- Increased trust and credibility (52 percent)
“The main thing we look for is whether we are getting great content. Content can be expensive to create professionally, so if our influencers are making content our audience will enjoy, that’s a big win for us. In terms of traditional metrics, we are looking at things like reach, engagement and click-through rates. We are a packaged goods brand so our ultimate goal is to move product,” said Leo Morejon, senior manager of social media marketing at Applegate.
Marketers agree that it can be difficult to find an influencer who’s easy to work with and meets brand safety and relevancy guidelines. That’s one reason why 63 percent said they prefer ongoing, long-term partnerships with creators.
Though as one marketer noted, using different influencers to fit specific activations can prove useful, saying, “We have different products and not every influencer works for every product.”
The top three qualities brands look for when recruiting influencers include determining if their audience’s demographic is right for the brand (78 percent), engagement rate (78 percent) and the size of their audience (68 percent). The influencer’s expertise is also important, as noted by 47 percent of respondents.
Many review an influencer’s past posts to determine if they’re a genuine brand fan, if they’ve worked with competition in the past and if their values align.
Influencer Audience Size
Mid-size influencers (75,000 to 500,000 followers) are the preferred type of influencer for 30 percent of marketers followed by micro-influencers (up to 75,000 followers) for 29 percent. Macro-influencers (500,000 and 1 million followers) are the preference for 18 percent.
As for tone, 54 percent said they look for both relatable and aspirational influencers while 38 percent said they only look for relatable creators.
Among the 81 percent of marketers who said they use paid social:
- 18 percent use it all the time
- 30 percent use it most of the time
- 33 percent use it sometimes
- 19 percent use it rarely or never
When asked how they determine when to put dollars behind paid influencer social, 53 percent indicated content quality as the main criteria, followed by the influencer’s popularity (15 percent) and having a brand presence in the asset (10 percent).
The social platforms marketers prefer are:
- Instagram (96 percent)
- TikTok (63 percent)
- Facebook (56 percent)
- YouTube (47 percent)
- Twitter (33 percent)
- Twitch (15 percent)
Though Snapchat is one of Gen Z’s go-to apps, just 11 percent of marketers reported using it as 4 percent use Clubhouse.
Eighty-five percent said they enlist influencers to create static imagery, while 79 percent use short-form video ad 78 percent use Stories. Another 43 percent of marketers reported using long-form videos with influencers while 24 percent leverage blogs.
Spin Master executive vice president of marketing Laura Henderson said:
“People are looking for something different, something that isn’t quite as polished, something that seems real. And influencers can provide that. There’s a passion that comes through. Influencers are often first adopters of new platforms and they understand the nuances of those platforms, and that’s often a key reason why we will start working with someone, to launch ourselves on that platform.”
Defining Influencer Success
The constants marketers look for when measuring the success of their influencer campaigns include:
- Engagement (64 percent)
- Clicks (12 percent)
- Impressions (10 percent)
Still, 41 percent said return on investment is the top challenge they face in their influencer marketing practice. After that, 21 percent cited researching and vetting influencers. Upper management is also an obstacle, as noted by 18 percent.
Agency vs. In-House
Seventy-five percent of marketers said they required some external help with influencer marketing while 25 percent said they did everything in-house. Another 8 percent said they worked with an agency 100 percent of the time, citing bandwidth as the reason.