The state of influencer marketing

As more money is flowing into influencer marketing, there’s much confusion in the space with questions like: How do social stars get paid? And how can a brand measure the return on investment?

Both are the major trends in the influencer marketing space today, according to various data sources.

The key takeaways

  • The number of followers is still the gold standard for a social star’s “influence,” but those with a smaller following sometimes charge more.
  • Instagram is the No.1 influencer marketing platform. And social stars are moving from Snapchat and Twitter to Instagram.
  • On Instagram, social stars specializing in travel typically get paid the most, while those in business get paid the least.
  • A big brand concern is the lack of control, but most social stars don’t want to be told what to do by a company.
  • Measurement is the biggest challenge for marketers when using influencer marketing.

The key numbers

  • $570 million: Globally, marketers spent on influencer marketing on Instagram last year, says eMarketer.
  • 78 percent: Most of the 170 marketers surveyed by influencer company Linqia said that determining the return on investment is the biggest challenge of influencer marketing.
  • $5,000-$10,000: The price range per post for influencers with 500,000 to 1 million followers across social platforms, according to influencer tech firm Hypr.
  • 89 percent: Most of the 208 U.S. marketers surveyed by influencer agency Chute find influencers on Instagram, followed by Facebook (70 percent) and Twitter (70 percent).
  • 70 percent: The majority of the 400 influencers surveyed by influencer agency Collective Bias said that they are putting Snapchat and Twitter on pause to focus elsewhere.
  • $1,405: The average rate of sponsored Instagram post by influencers with over 1 million followers on Instagram, according to a 2017 survey of 2,885 influencers by marketing company Influence.

The agency view
When it comes to influencer marketing, one big challenge facing marketers is measurement. Marketers are often looking at the wrong metrics, according to Holly Pavlika, svp of marketing and content for Collective Bias. For instance, reach is not equal to engagement.

“And marketers are scattered when it comes to what they’re measuring,” said Pavlika. “Key performance indicators are all over the place from CPM to impressions to total media value to sales [increase.]

Jody Farrar, vp of sales and marketing for Chute, thinks that while measurement and tracking is improving, it can still be challenging for many marketers to pinpoint return on investment when using influencer marketing. “This makes it increasingly challenging to answer questions like, how much should I pay the influencers I work with?” she said.

The future
Influencer marketing continues to grow and social stars are putting more focus on Instagram as a platform specifically, according to agency executives. For brands that are investing in influencer marketing, they have to change their mindset — many marketers want to use social stars to drive sales at scale but influencer marketing is not designed for that, according to Brian Babineau, evp of social and content systems for Arnold Worldwide.

“Influencer marketing is not evolving as quickly as it should because many brands don’t understand the role it plays in their marketing mix,” said Babineau. “Influencer marketing is a different production model, but many treat it as a media channel. The future of influencer marketing has to be built upon the notion of content creation.”

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