Despite the pandemic-induced roadblocks that have forced marketers to slash their ad budgets and restructure their teams, brands continue to grow their influencer marketing efforts. In fact, the influencer marketing industry is on track to reach $28.1 billion by 2028. Reinforcing this truth is a new Tribe Dynamics report about the state of the industry that shows 41 percent of brands have expanded their dedicated influencer marketing teams and 65 percent of brands have compensated more influencers over the past year. In addition, the data reveals how brands and influencers are engaging with TikTok and the sustained impact of COVID-19.
The first key takeaway from Tribe Dynamic’s report is that influencer marketing is becoming a more permanent part of a brand’s operations. For example, most brands surveyed reported that their dedicated influencer marketing teams had either remained the same size (40 percent) or expanded (41 percent). Whereas just 19 percent of brands said their team contracted. As far as the size of these teams, most (91 percent) included between one and five employees.
Even so, brands say they face challenges in further evolving their influencer marketing strategies, namely inadequate budget and manpower. For example, 59 percent say they don’t have enough budget to grow their influencer efforts, while 57 percent cited inadequate manpower in achieving their goals.
Other areas of issue for brands include having the appropriate software to enhance their influencer strategy. Sixteen percent of respondents say they’re lacking a tool for influencer discovery, while 12 percent say they need a tool for tracking emergent platforms.
For both brand and influencer, Instagram Stories is a mainstay in their storytelling toolkits. Most influencers (88 percent) regularly use Instagram Stories and have used it “much more” within the past year (63 percent). A majority of brands (78 percent), too, say Instagram Stories had very significantly impacted influencer content about their brand.
Tribe Dynamics also found that TikTok is impacting the way brands and influencers create content. For example, 35 percent of brands with dedicated influencer marketing teams for specific platforms have teams just for TikTok. While the same amount of influencers (35 percent) say they’ve used TikTok “more frequently” within the past year.
Over the course of the industry’s evolution, compensating influencers has become an increasingly mainstream practice for brands. Nearly all (93 percent) of brands say they’ve compensated content creators within the past year. What’s more, 65 percent of brands say the proportion of influencers they paid had increased.
Influencers view brand relationships as business relationships, and therefore take sponsorship into consideration when deciding to work with a brand, as 78 percent of influencers note in the survey.
The quality of a brand’s product is equally as important to influencers when deciding whether or not to post about a brand. When asked why they would create content about events, the top reason influencers cited is opportunities to try new products.
During the pandemic, brands have found the most success from sharing at-home owned content (66 percent) and sending influencers products (74 percent). For 35 percent of influencers, posting frequency has increased amid the pandemic, with a focus on at-home content (72 percent) and self-care content (51 percent).
Brands have room to improve the diversity of their creator pool, as 31 percent of influencers say that in the past year, they had felt overlooked or excluded from a brand activation due to their race and/or ethnicity. Similarly, 25 percent say they felt weren’t paid enough due to their race and/or ethnicity.
That’s not to say brands aren’t working toward increasing representation. In fact, 85 percent of brands say they sent products to more BIPOC influencers, 75 percent say they featured more BIPOC models and influencers in their marketing campaigns and 66 percent say they included more BIPOC influencers in brand initiatives.
These findings are based on a survey Tribe Dynamics fielded in July to over 60 brands and over 250 influencers. Seventy percent of brands were from the US, 14 percent from the UK and the remaining were from Canada, Italy and other countries.
Fifty-seven percent of the influencers surveyed were from the US, 15 percent from the UK, 7 percent from Canada, 6 percent from Italy and 15 percent from other countries.
Eighty-two percent of influencers surveyed have under 50,000 followers while 8 percent have over 100,000 followers. The majority create content around skincare, cosmetics, lifestyle and/or fashion.