Influence marketing: what is the state of this strategy?

influence marketing

Influencer marketing is a relatively new advertising strategy that took off at the same time as social networks. These platforms have indeed allowed some personalities to stand out and professionalize their profile.

These people, called influencers, have managed to create a community around their name and their activity. This allows brands to have an additional communication channel to promote their products. 

To learn more about influencer marketing and its state at the beginning of the 2020s, we propose an article and some infographics based on the Influencer Marketing Benchmark 2021, provided by Influencer Marketing Hub and Upfluence.

What is influence marketing?

Influence marketing refers to all practices that aim to use the recommendation potential of influencers. Influencers are social media personalities who stand out because of their ability to unite a community around their name, their activities, their passions, etc.

As the name indicates, these personalities gather a more or less large number of subscribers on their social profiles. This represents an opportunity for brands in the sense that it allows to make a very targeted advertising, with a community built around a particular personality. This allows to refine the message, and to propose it at the right time, by trusting the influencer.

Brands are particularly interested in the engagement rate of the influencers they choose. On social networks, this engagement rate represents the actions taken by the community regarding the content, when it comes across it.

Finally, this marketing strategy makes it possible to target very specific communities, represented by the influencer. This allows to attract potential customers that are very relevant for the brands, who match their persona with the one presented by the influencer. 72% of the companies surveyed in the Influence Marketing Benchmark study believe that the consumer profile attracted by this type of strategy is more relevant than on others.

Where to do influence marketing?

The answer depends on the trends. Social media and the digital world are evolving so fast that you always have to be on the lookout for consumer habits. 

This year, live and short-video formats worked particularly well. For this trend, you have to find the platforms dedicated to this type of format, and find the influencers. So, in the case of streaming, you can find the personalities you are interested in on Twitch, Youtube, TikTok, …

In 2020, Twitch announced that 13,000,000 people streamed content for the first time. It’s no wonder then that the number of selected influencers on the platform has risen from 15,754 to 36,663 (an increase of 132.72% between 2019 and 2020). 

The Chinese platform, TikTok, on the other hand, breaks all records by going from 35,528 influencers to 106,104 (an increase of 198.65% between 2019 and 2020).

Like each communication channel, channels of influence have different outcomes. To do this, you need to find the right influencer, present on the right network. 

As mentioned before, the success of such a strategy depends on the ability of the influencer to federate his community around the product he advises, on an adapted channel. Engagement rates then diverge from one network to another, from one type of influencer to another:

  • Instagram: 2.05% engagement rate (3.86% on average among micro-influencers, 1.21% on average among mega-influencers)
  • Youtube: 0.64% engagement rate (1.63% on average among micro-influencers, 0.37% on average among mega-influencers)
  • TikTok: 8.94% engagement rate (17.96% on average for micro-influencers, 4.96% on average for mega-influencers)

In addition to the engagement rate presented by influencers on these platforms, the channels of influence used by respondents in the study are:

  • Instagram: 68%
  • TikTok: 45%
  • Facebook: 43% 
  • Youtube: 36%
  • LinkedIn: 16%
  • Twitter: 15%

How to pay an influencer?

There are several ways to make arrangements with an influencer. In fact, the Influencer Marketing Hub study indicates that there are 4 major ways to pay for the services of an influencer.

In 36% of cases, influencers are paid through product samples. This has several advantages. First of all, brands do not have to give money directly to the influencer. The objective here is to provide a product out of stock. The influencer will then be happy to get a free product, which he will be quick to present to his community. This can be considered as a goodwill exchange.

In 32.4% of the cases, companies make a monetary payment for the services of an influencer. This is particularly the case for the big influencers of social networks. They have an already established offer, based on a content strategy, which is monetized for companies. For this method of payment, prefer Paypal. Indeed, 42% of influence professionals prefer this mode of payment, notably to third-party payments (31%) or wire transfers (27%).

For the last two possibilities to offer the services of an influencer, we can thus resort to promotional codes (discounts on products), for 21% of companies and the organization of a contest, where the influencer is integrated for 10.5% of companies.

The organization of an influence strategy

As with all types of marketing campaigns, there are many agencies and platforms dedicated to influence. In 2020, there were 1,360 platforms and agencies dedicated to influencer marketing. 

Nevertheless, it is not because there are many of them that they are favored by companies applying this type of strategy. In fact, 77% of the companies surveyed in the above-mentioned study prefer to do their campaigns in-house, without using third-party agencies/platforms.

In the majority, these platforms are used to discover new influencers (57%). Indeed, these platforms and agencies benefit from tools and features that allow them to find relevant influencers when a company indicates its marketing target, the products it sells, etc. This helps optimize the development and execution of campaigns, to ensure a good ROI and reach the right people.

How to choose an influencer?

As mentioned before, companies practicing influencer marketing, as well as those using social networks in their strategy, monitor several metrics that are important to establish an ROI or get an idea of the campaign’s reach. 

Choosing an influencer is not only about choosing a community, as mentioned above. Indeed, it also involves the performance of the chosen influencer. Before launching this kind of campaign, it is then necessary to optimize the reach and the cost by choosing the right person.

For companies, the most analyzed metrics to evaluate influencers are :

  • Click-through or engagement rate at 39%.
  • The analysis of potential fraud or fake subscribers at 28%.
  • The payment method of the influencer at 24.5
  • Conversion attribution at 9%.

Of course, if your budget allows it, you may not be satisfied with just one influencer. Even though the majority of brands (52%) work with a quantity of 0 to 10 influencers, the rest of the brands can work with up to 1,000 of these professionals.

influence marketing infographic


Join and get exclusive contents for free.

Thibault Herpin
Hi, my name is Thibault Herpin. I'm in charge of strategic content for E-commerce Nation. I'm happy to share my experience in the fields of digital marketing and E-commerce through my content. Do not hesitate to contact me !