The influencer marketing industry is a giant marketing avenue for both brick-and-mortar and online businesses. The latest influencer marketing statistics show the true power of generating buzz over social media. It’s similar to word-of-mouth, and it’s huge for getting your name out there.
However, for businesses looking to invest in influencer marketing, it’s essential to be fully aware of the climate before jumping in.
We’ve compiled 10 of the most important and surprising influencer marketing statistics to shed light on the state of the industry in 2023 and beyond.
1. The influencer marketing industry reached a staggering $21.1 billion in 2023 [Projected]
Global influencer marketing spend has doubled since the $6.5 billion total in 2019. In 2023 alone, there is a projected 28.6% increase from the previous year. With market growth accelerating over the past few years, up from just $1.7 billion in 2016, and the ever-expanding social media landscape, influencers are increasingly effective. Their audiences view them as authorities on various products and services while brands view them as mainstream online marketing channels with a decent return on investment (ROI).
That said, influencer marketing ROI is not the main reason for its growth as a marketing channel.
Audience’s trust in people-centric stories, advice, and recommendations offered by real humans will naturally be higher than their trust in branded ads with brand logos. This goes back to influencer marketing 101, where a product recommendation given by someone people know has a naturally higher chance of resonating with audiences than a brand advertising its product with its own visual design.
The uptick in influencer marketing investment is a trend we will likely see continue, at least until AI marketing takes over.
2. 67% of businesses plan to increase their influencer marketing budget (Source)
In comparison, a relatively small 7% minority plan to reduce influencer marketing spend in favor of other marketing channels. According to 3,500 responses from marketing professionals in the Influencer Benchmark Report 2023, the vast majority are looking at a budgetary increase during 2023, continuing the trend of incremental increases from the previous years.
Additionally, 15% of respondents are keeping their influencer marketing budgets the same and 11% said they were unsure how their budgets would change.
A report from PQ Media explains that the growth of influencer marketing into a mainstream channel is due to:
- More marketers integrating influencer marketing into their primary campaigns
- Bigger companies and corporations adopting social media influencer marketing
- Influencer marketing expanding to cater to other demographics such as Gen X
- Millennials almost completely shifting their basis of their buying decisions from traditional media to influencers
What’s interesting is that influencer marketing is basically word-of-mouth marketing that brands can invest in and drive, whereas in the past they had no control over how quickly and to how many people their word spread. Today, it’s a pay-to-spread marketing model with a full range of influencer types that cater to a wide variety of curated audiences.
3. 11% of businesses spent more than $500k on influencer marketing over the past year (Source)
This is a 3X increase from just last year and represents a consistent increase in bigger companies who can afford to spend more online marketing dollars, and choose to spend it on influencers.
Meanwhile, the majority of businesses spent less than $10k, at 43%. But some companies choose to leverage half a million dollars or more on influencer marketing alone. Falling in the middle are 22% of respondents who said they spend between $10,000 and $50,000, 14% of marketing professionals who reported spending $50,000 to $100,000, and 10% of survey participants who spend $100,000 to $500,000.
It’s reasonable to assume that the 11% of companies that spend half a million dollars or more on influencer marketing annually have based this decision on considerable market research and testing, so it appears that ROI and attractive metric numbers go hand in hand.
4. Instagram is by far the most popular platform for influencer marketing, with 76% of marketers leveraging it in 2023 (Source)
The percentage of marketers using Instagram influencers as part of their marketing strategy has increased four points from 72% in 2022. The report featured by Statista projects that by 2025 it will reach an 84% share among the primary influencer platforms. The top four platforms also include Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.
Facebook has remained solid as the second most popular platform for influencer marketing in recent years, and it is expected to hold its place until at least 2025. However, TikTok upset YouTube as the third most popular influencer marketing platform in 2021 and is projected to stay in third place for the near future.
Although TikTok is a primarily video-based medium that offers less flexibility than the others on this list, it’s increasingly popular with marketers. In fact, 49% of them are projected to use it for influencer marketing in 2023. This number is expected to increase to 54% by 2025.
The reason for Instagram’s popularity among marketers is the visual nature of the platform and the various types of posts, including reels, stories, and the basic photo post. Brands can create slightly different media for all of these post types, and influencers have greater flexibility in how they present a brand. Plus, Instagram was the first mainstream visual media platform to be adopted as a targeted marketing channel specifically for the influencer.
5. YouTube macro-influencers had the highest engagement rates on the platform, at nearly 3.5%
According to a report on Statista, influencers with 100,000 to 1 million followers on YouTube had an engagement rate of 3.47% in 2022. This is the highest engagement rate, beating influencers with a higher or lower follower count. The category with the second highest engagement rate was YouTube influencers with more than 1 million followers, with only a slightly lower rate of 3.4%.
YouTube influencers with the lowest engagement rate, meaning the percentage of viewers who interact with the channel and content, were influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 followers, earning an engagement rate of 1.9%.
The reasons for higher engagement among YouTube influencers with mid-tier follower counts could be the more personable nature of these influencers. A mega or celebrity influencer would be less likely to directly engage with audiences, and their viewers may feel less of a personal connection to them. This could make viewers less likely to comment, like, share, or subscribe. And smaller influencers may have fewer opportunities to engage with viewers because their lower follower count.
Depending on their niche, influencers with fewer followers may be able to better engage with audiences on other social media platforms.
According to a Statista report from 2021, 74% of Gen Z buyers based their beauty and lifestyle purchases on recommendations from their favorite influencer. Considering that the younger demographic is more attuned to online product research, it’s easy to see why they would want to engage with and listen to influencers with somewhat smaller, more dedicated followings.
6. 39% of brands prefer to partner with nano-influencers, more than any other level (Source)
The Influencer Benchmark Report 2023 found that influencers with smaller reach were generally preferred by brands for marketing partnerships. In fact, the larger the reach of the influencer, the less likely brands were to be interested in partnering with them. At the high end of the scale, the mega/celebrity influencers (with more than 1 million followers) were preferred by only 12% of brands.
Nano-influencers, defined in the report as those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers, are more reachable than their more famous counterparts. They’re more likely to have a more specific niche that enables them to reach a smaller albeit more engaged group of followers.
It’s believed that influencers with smaller, more loyal followings have a higher engagement rate because they are more connected to their audiences. This is due to shared niche interests and an ability to have direct conversations with their followers.
Since it’s easier to engage with smaller audiences, it makes sense for brands to prefer smaller influencers they can develop their own audiences from. Plus, an influencer with a smaller audience is probably more likely to invest greater effort into convincing their followers to make a purchase decision.
7. User-generated content has jumped to the top objective for running influencer marketing campaigns, at 45% (Source)
The primary goals for influencer campaigns among marketers has changed drastically since 2022, according to the Influencer Benchmark Report 2023. Last year, increasing sales was the leading objective of 36.7% of respondents. Second was awareness with 35.7%, and building a library of user-generated content (UGC) was third, with 32.8% of respondents declaring it the main goal.
However, generating UGC has leapt to the front of the list in 2023, with nearly half of respondents naming it the top marketing objective. Rounding out the top three were sales at 29% and awareness at 26%.
Here we see a unique insight into how brands are outsourcing their marketing content production to influencers. This generates organic word-of-mouth and enables marketers to focus their budgets on other channels. It also has the added benefit of snowballing into either a popular internet meme or viral campaign that helps the brand create massive awareness overnight (and boost sales).
8. Twitch had the highest average per-post cost of any influencer marketing platform in 2022, at $4,373 (Source)
Instagram may be the preferred social media platform for influencer marketing, but IZEA’s State of Influencer Earnings 2023 Report found that Twitch had the highest cost for a single sponsored post on any video-based platform by a wide margin.
Second most expensive was Instagram Stories at $2,784 per post. Following that was TikTok at $2,741 per post, YouTube at $2,102, Twitter at $1,643, Pinterest at $1,450, Instagram Photo at $1,311, and Facebook at $642.
According to this article from Forbes, Twitch has proven to be extremely effective for influencer marketing, especially within the gaming niche. Additionally, a report by Insider Intelligence found that from 2019 to 2021, Both Twitch and TikTok experienced an 8% increase in influencer marketing, far more than any other platform.
The closer, more personal setting of a Twitch stream allows for a more in-depth marketing experience in which creators can actually talk about a product and interact with their audience in real time, getting instant feedback. This is great for brands too, since it allows marketers to immediately receive and analyze audience responses, and make changes to the campaign much faster.
9. 62.4% of consumers say they trust a sponsored post from an influencer over an A-list celebrity
According to a 2022 influencer marketing study by IZEA, the vast majority of respondents preferred influencers on social media over prominent celebrities when it came to influencing choice.
This aligns with the findings discussed in statistic #5 on this list that marketers prefer to partner with influencers with smaller followings than mega-influencers and celebrities with 1 million followers or more. Plus, it reinforces the theory that influencers who are seemingly more approachable are more likely to convince people to buy than someone with a giant PR team behind them.
According to a 2021 survey by Neilson, 88% of shoppers trust the product recommendations of people they know over celebrities. Often, a micro influencer is the closest thing a buyer has to a friend who knows what they’re talking about, has used the product, and trusts it enough to feature it on their platform. In other words, it’s perceived that the influencer believes in the product enough to make it a part of their brand.
However, several A-list celebrities have created massive brands by leveraging the power of social media and taking on an influencer role. However, it’s important to note though that while Rihanna’s Fenty products proved massively successful as a result of social media, the celebrity behind the role had to dedicate time and effort to adopting the influencer model — something micro influencers built their entire brand on.
10. 35.2% of consumers trust influencer posts as their main source of product recommendations
IZEA’s 2022 Trust in Influencer Marketing report found that the majority of consumers are more likely to trust an influencer’s post over ads sent out via traditional media channels. This is a clear indication of how popular and powerful online influencers are in terms of product or service recommendation, and how effective they are in driving sales.
Of the 35.3% of consumers who put their greatest level of trust in influencer posts when it comes to making purchase decisions, there was a stark difference between male and female respondents. Only 26.5% of male respondents said they were most likely to try a new product based on a social media influencer post, while 42.7% of female respondents said the same.
The most influential advertising channel for males was actually television ads, at 30.4%. Meanwhile only 29.4% of female respondents said the same thing about TV ads. The combined total was 29.8%.
Paid social ads (12.9% total), magazine ads (9.7%), banner ads (8.1%), and radio ads (4.3%) filled out the list of advertising channels in the survey, with men more likely than women to respond to all of them.
A report by Oracle found that Millennials and Gen Z are up to 2X more likely to trust an influencer, as compared to Boomers. This falls in line with how the “online generation” is leaving traditional media behind in favor of social media and how much easier it is for brands to reach them where they are.
Seeing how younger folks are constantly moving away from TV and print media, it’s no surprise that people with a following on the internet are suddenly becoming the main sales drivers for companies.
What Influencer Marketing Statistics Reveal About This Powerful Avenue
In the past, it was easy to overlook the role of internet celebrity influencers in marketing culture as just a fad. Today, this is not the case, as so much of the younger demographics are basing their buying decisions on what they see on social media.
It’s difficult to project exactly how popular influencers will be in the marketing space a few years from now. But what we can project is that people will continue to base purchase decisions on human stories. It’s up to brands to leverage these human stories to build audiences and influence purchases on their own.