Open Instagram and begin to scroll through your feed. How many organic posts made by friends or family do you see before you come across an influencer-sponsored post? Odds are you won’t make it very far, seeing as 93% of influencers use Instagram as their platform of choice.
By definition, influencers in social media are individuals who build a reputation and a following by having knowledge or expertise on a particular topic that a niche target market finds interesting. Typically you’ll find influencers fall under one (or multiple) of the following categories:
- Industry experts and thought leaders
- Bloggers and content creators
- Micro Influencers
The most recent newsworthy shift in influencer marketing came when large corporations turned their attention away from celebrities boasting millions of followers, to lesser-known “micro influencers.” Originally, influencer marketing grew out of celebrity endorsements. However, while regular, everyday people only known in their niche market sported a lot fewer followers, this actually worked in their favor. As reach grows, engagement tends to drop, making somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 followers the sweet spot. This is because the micro influencers tend to have a much more authentic voice and are better able to engage in active relationships with their followers.
Influencer marketing took off from a small burning flame and turned into a full-fledged forest fire, with a 1,500% increase in Google searches for influencer marketing during the past 3 years. Now social feeds (primarily Instagram) are flooded with businesses capitalizing on its impressive benefits such as:
- Brands in 2017 saw an ROI of $6.78 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, an 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of marketing
- Last year, 58% of brands saw improved brand awareness and 54% saw an increase in leads and revenue
But too much of anything can be… well, too much. Mobile Marketer reports that “the engagement rate for sponsored posts fell to 2.4% in Q1 2019 from 4% three years earlier” and “the engagement rate for every industry category of influencer has declined in the past year.” The industry category that took the hardest hit was influencers focused on travel. While they usually have the highest engagement rate — 8% in 2018 — this year they dropped to 4.5%.
All of these trends in declining engagement rates are something mobile marketers need to take into consideration. In large part, engagement is decreasing because consumers’ feeds are becoming almost unbearably consumed with sponsored posts. Instagram’s influencer-sponsored posts in North America surged 150% in Q1 from a year earlier. This is in large part because so many brands launched campaigns targeted to younger audiences who are less likely to check traditional media channels and who are more likely to believe an online review of a product given by someone they look up to. The problem is that now Instagram feels more like flipping through a magazine with an ad on every other page than a social network connecting friends and family with fun vacation pictures. Swedish watch brand Daniel Wellington was mentioned 20,000 times by about 7,200 influencers just last year. As a member of their millennial target market, I can attest that I have seen enough Wellington watches on my timeline to last me a lifetime.
I personally believe that consumers are slowly but surely recognizing that their favorite IG yoga instructors and “dog moms” are really just brand reps trying to sell products. If these products cater to you, you may find yourself actually enjoying the ads. However, with never-ending “honest opinion” recommendations, the numbers this year show more and more consumers are tuning them out and opting to just keep on scrolling.
What do you think? Have you noticed this surge in sponsored posts? What sort of reaction have you had to this type of content? Respond in the comments below!
Author: Celeste Russell
Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, Celeste soon will be completing her Acting & Communication for the Arts B.A. at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Her passions have always included effective communication both on and off the stage. She is delighted to be working as the social media intern for NISM this summer and hopes the skills she acquires will help her in her upcoming job search when she graduates in May of 2020.
Feel free to connect with Celeste on LinkedIn.
You may also enjoy reading: A Simplistic Approach to Social Media