No longer dabblers in niches and industries, these internet stars are the future of marketing. They have become masters of the trade – whatever that may be.
Business. Politics. Entertainment. Name it, and there’s a YouTube sensation, TikTok dancer, LinkedIn thought leader or Instagram celebrity who has conquered that space.
Whether world domination is part of their agenda or not, there’s a place where almost all types of influencers rule: social media. They’re so ubiquitous that we, the users of social networking apps and sites, have no choice but to be a captive audience to their content.
An Influencer for Every Industry
No matter your hobbies or interests, you’ll find an army of influencers owning the space. Just tell us one thing: What is an influencer doing on your Facebook timeline? And we’ll tell you who you are (kidding, we are not as advanced as Facebook’s algorithm yet).
We’ve also heard about brand and business influencers amassing hordes of followers, closing massive endorsement deals and living a lavish lifestyle. But does influencer marketing work so successfully all the time?
We had a hunch that the answer was no, so we set out to make a better sense of the role of influencers in our ordinary lives.
Our team at Thrive, an influencer marketing agency, surveyed 514 Americans about their feelings toward social media influencers. We defined influencers as a social media user/profile with 2,000 or more followers who has been doing some kind of, well, influencing in their chosen space.
What we found out is distilled in these influencer marketing statistics 2021:
A Virtual Rendezvous
Social media is the meeting place for consumers, influencers and brands. But without the very first group of users (that’s us), there wouldn’t be the burgeoning influencer marketing industry we know today.
It’s our love for the candid, relatable, funny or touching that has lent a powerful platform to strangers who, over time, become like our friends.
That said, we tried to gauge people’s social media habits and learned that about a third spend an average of 30 minutes to an hour on social platforms each day. The percentage of users that devote 1-2 hours and over two hours is remarkably similar, at 27.82 and 24.12 percent respectively. Meanwhile, very few users – only 14.4 percent – spend less than 30 minutes on social media every day.
We also confirmed that various states of lockdown have caused usage to spike. Most serial scrollers sustained their time spent on social media, while others saw a slight increase. Those who generally keep their usage to under 30 minutes, however, spend even less time on it now (teach us your secret!).
Welcome to the Rabbit Hole
From low-quality cat videos and meandering vlogs to chaotic dance challenges and professionally produced documentaries, there’s something to pique your interest down the internet rabbit hole.
Our influencer marketing statistics 2021 show that certain types of influencer content reign supreme. Most people said that creative and inspirational content is what compels them to follow an influencer, followed by humorous content and news coverage.
Go Ahead and Influence Me
Does influencer marketing work? Sometimes – but it depends on us, the audience. One school of thought believes that “influencerdom” hinges on our willingness to be influenced. In that case, it’s a matter of whom we allow to influence us – and how many influencers we choose to follow.
Our results revealed that only 10.31 percent of people follow more than 30 influencers, while the percentages of respondents following less than five, 5-10 and 11-20 are remarkably similar.
The Industries That Made Them
A combined 46.69 percent of the people we surveyed associate the term “influencer” with the fashion and beauty industries. That’s not surprising at all! These spaces are dominated by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, the would-be leader of influencers if they ever had one.
But it’s not all about beauty. Many fitness, eCommerce and business influencers have also followed in the footsteps of fashion and beauty icons and gained substantial followings.
While fashion and beauty meet expectations, it’s interesting to note that the different types of influencers we follow impacts the industries we tend to associate the term “influencer” with.
We asked people what types of influencers they most often come across online: celebrity influencers, social media influencers, micro-influencers (defined as influencers with fewer than 2,000 followers) or key opinion leaders/experts.
As you can see in the table above, at eighth place, the Gaming industry sits fairly far down on the list. However, it’s interesting to note that this industry makes the top four among social media users who mostly follow micro-influencers. Similarly, the Financial Services industry, which sits at fourth place in the table above, ranks in the number two spot among social media users who mostly follow key opinion leaders or experts.
Based on these influencer marketing stats 2021, any business owner and marketer should be able to see the value in partnering with the right type of influencer for your industry.
Where Influencer Marketing Thrives
Despite TikTok making a splash in 2020, our influencer marketing survey results show that more than half of people see influencers most often on Instagram. Facebook and YouTube come in second and third place, with 18.68 and 15.95 percent respectively.
Influencing in a Pandemic
What is an influencer without relevant content? Influencers (and brands too), take note: We found that when respondents saw influencers advertising COVID-19-related products, their feelings toward influencers were overwhelmingly positive. When they did not see influencers selling COVID-19-related products, sentiment was split.
Sellers or Sellouts?
You’d think that as internet stars became insanely popular, they’d receive profitable marketing or collaboration offers left and right. And who would say no to these opportunities? Charli D’Amelio, that’s who. D’Amelio has 27 million TikTok followers and an influencer marketing agency that makes sure she gets opportunities from the brands she loves. This underpins the sentiment shared by a whopping 80.74 percent of our respondents, who believe influencers only work with brands they like or support.
But if you’re like the minority who thinks influencers DON’T always work with brands they believe in, you might also be onto something. Some influencers accept projects only for the money, and it shows. Take, for example, Scott Disick of Keeping Up With the Kardashians fame. He did a good job copy-pasting his instructions for a sponsored post on Instagram.
Reputation and the Path to Purchase
Social media platforms are used by many to connect with family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. But the true power of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like lies in their ability to build trust and relationships among users. These platforms connect people with strangers they admire, relate to or simply want to know.
That’s a goldmine for social media influencers who are highly skilled at hitting it off with their target audience and organically growing their reputation, the .
Riding on this is arguably the most ideal (read: lucrative) match social media has ever made: business influencers partnering with major brands. Our influencer marketing survey results serve as Exhibit A: 63.23 percent of people said they have followed a brand featured in an influencer’s post.
But wannabe influencers, beware, because the majority of social media users have also unfollowed someone for posting too much sponsored content.
It’s no secret that brands tap into social media star power to reach consumers. Depending on the types of influencers, this can make or break a brand. Why? Because influencers can have a surprisingly significant impact on their followers’ purchasing decisions.
Our influencer marketing stats 2021 revealed that 61.67 percent of users have bought a product or service advertised or endorsed by an influencer, and 60.12 percent have specifically had their purchasing decisions swayed by a public figure they like or respect.
The vast majority of people – 84.44 percent – said they consult online reviews prior to purchasing, and 54.86 actively seek out these reviews from influencers!
But influencer marketing decreases in effectiveness if the social media celebrity fails to convert a visitor into a lead or customer. About 64.39 percent of respondents who have not had their purchasing decisions swayed by an influencer have also never followed a brand that was featured in an influencer’s post.
Love ’Em or Hate ’Em
Before conducting our survey to gather influencer marketing statistics 2021, we thought about how social media influencers made us feel. We can be fans, critics or both. So we asked people if they feel positive or negative when they hear the word “influencer.” We found that younger people are open to social media personalities, but the older people get, the less positive they feel. For the over-65 crowd, “influencer” may as well be a four-letter word.
However, our influencer marketing agency discovered that for people who spend more time on social media, the positive sentiment toward influencers also grows greater.
Who Wants To Be an Influencer?
Influencers do not just sway consumers to make certain purchase decisions. They also shape and influence people’s ideal lifestyle. Our influencer marketing stats 2021 reveal that the more influencers we follow, the more we want to be one. The group that follows 30 or more influencers has the highest number of wannabe influencers.
Maybe that’s because most people consider influencing to be a particularly lucrative industry – far more lucrative than it is. People thought that, on average, an influencer with 100,000 followers could charge a whopping $309,000 for a single post! (For the record, reality is more within the region of $1000.)
So: Does Influencer Marketing Work?
With our influencer marketing survey results, we found a mixed bag of perceptions and expectations. But we hope you found some clarity regarding the question, “Does influencer marketing work?” It turns out influencers hold an inarguable sway on their followers’ purchasing decisions in certain contexts. And the more virtual personalities we allow into our lives, the more positive we feel toward them.
Perhaps, we do want to be influenced after all.
We surveyed 514 Americans about their feelings towards social media influencers. We utilized a convenience sampling method by using SurveyMonkey and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to collect responses and analyzed the data using Tableau and Excel. 11.09% of our respondents were in the 18-24 age range, 41.63% in the 25-34 age range, 24.9% in the 35-44 age range, 11.87% in the 45-54 age range, 7.39% in the 55-64 age range and 3.11% of respondents were aged 65 or older. 50.97% of our respondents were male, 47.86% female and 1.17% self-reported other as their gender.