Should you invest in influencer marketing in 2021?

In 2021, it’s hard to discuss digital marketing without also discussing social media marketing. Indeed, first came a few short years of questionable results and return on investment (ROI). In the past decade, however, social media platforms have become marketing powerhouses, as we at Digital Dot have repeatedly discussed. Indeed, the internet’s increasing global penetration, the advent of mobile devices, and soaring social media user bases converged into this. With massive potential audience pools to tap into, counting in billions for select platforms, marketers cannot afford to skip it. However, tapping into these audiences effectively presents a unique challenge, which in turn gave rise to influencer marketing. But is influencer marketing in 2021 worth your time? Let us devote this article to finding out.

Social media marketing trends in 2021

Since influencer marketing is a subset of social media marketing, we should likely begin by exploring social media marketing trends. For the sake of text economy, let us highlight 3 notable trends that relate to influencer marketing.

#1 Live streaming and video marketing continue to thrive

In no small part due to the ongoing pandemic, live streaming continues to thrive. SearchEngineJournal reports that Facebook, an already prominent platform, saw US Facebook Live users double. One may observe the same trend in other platforms, from generic ones like YouTube to audience-focused ones like Twitch.

At the same time, video marketing continues to take center stage. Where such platforms as Instagram and TikTok already thrived on their focus on visual content, this trend presents massive opportunities.

#2 Authenticity replaces traditional hard-sell marketing

A man in a black shirt livestreaming on a laptop.
Authenticity continues to resonate with audiences better than corporate marketing in 2021.

Similarly, arguably in part due to the pandemic, audiences increasingly value authenticity. Thus, conversational marketing continues to surge, letting brands build trust and foster bonds through humanizing messaging. Social media strategies continue to embrace this customer-centric approach, as it yields both higher conversions and higher retention rates. For many, this is the primary benefit of influencer marketing, in 2021 and beyond.

#3 Digestible content surges in popularity

Finally, “snackable” content continues to enjoy immense popularity. In the digital age of busy, tech-savvy audiences, time is a precious commodity audiences don’t spare generously. In turn, this tendency shaped multiple “story” features of social media platforms, including:

  • Instagram Stories
  • Facebook Stories
  • Snapchat Stories
  • Pinterest Story Pins
  • Google’s Web Stories

When Twitter’s time-sensitive, bite-sized tweets, and TikTok’s 60-second videos resonate with audiences so strongly, marketers naturally take notice. Still, consolidating such trends into a serviceable marketing strategy takes effort, and effective outreach remains a challenge.

Influencer marketing in 2021: statistics

A person using a calculator next to US dollar bills.
While the influencer market expands, ensuring optimal ROI should remain a crucial concern.

Now, having discussed social media marketing, let us delve deeper into influencer marketing specifically. Initially, let us touch on the influencer market size with some of Statista’s relevant statistics.

  • The global influencer market more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, growing from $6.5 billion to $13.8 billion.
  • On Instagram, now the most prominent influencer marketing platform, influencer marketing spending grew from $5.67 billion in 2018 to $8 billion in 2020.
  • On Instagram, the influencer market size grew from $1.3 billion in 2018 to nearly $2.6 billion in 2020. Moreover, brand sponsored influencer posts doubled in the same time period, surpassing 6 billion in 2020.

Similarly, MarketingWeek reported that, in 2017, beauty influencers yielded an impressive ROI of £8.81 (or $12) per pound (or $1.37). While they correctly note that influencer ROI poses a challenge to measure accurately, this figure has only increased since.

Influencer marketing in 2021: influencer categories, rates, and platforms of choice

With the above context in mind, it should be clear that influencer marketing holds demonstrable merit. There are, however, crucial additional factors to consider before investing in it; namely, influencer categories, rates, and platforms. Only with such insights will you be able to measure your potential ROI and make an informed, data-driven decision.

Influencer categories and rates

Initially, there are multiple factors that determine an influencer’s potential ROI. Those include:

  • Their reach, engagement, and platform of choice
  • Posts required and non-text materials like images and videos
  • Cross-posting and potential agency fees

However, an easy way to initially distinguish between influencer categories lies in reach alone. In this regard, InfluencerMarketingHub helpfully categorizes them as such:

  • Nano-influencers; 1,000 to 10,000 followers
  • Micro- influencers; 10,000 to 50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers; 50,000 to 500,000 followers
  • Macro- influencers; 500,000 to 1,000,000 followers
  • Mega- influencers; over 1,000,000 followers

Here, it holds equal interest to note that Statista reports a relatively homogenous influencer preference by global marketers. Specifically, it notes that 36% of all respondents mostly cooperated with micro-influencers. Simultaneously, 30% of respondents preferred high-tier influencers.

In either case, influencer rates will typically correspond with their category. To touch on influencer rates for the 3 most popular platforms, let us refer to the aforementioned statistics again:

  • Instagram: from $10-$100 per post from nano-influencers to $10,000+ from mega-influencers
  • YouTube: from $20-$200 per video from nano-influencers to $20,000+ from mega-influencers
  • TikTok: from $5-$25 per post from nano-influencers to $2,500+ from mega-influencers

Platforms

Finally, on the subject of platforms, the 2020 Influencer marketing Outlook report ranked the top 5 as follows:

  • Instagram: 82%
  • YouTube: 41%
  • TikTok: 23%
  • Twitter: 23%
  • Facebook: 5%

Understandably, then, Instagram remains the prevalent social media platform for influencer marketing. It does not show signs of slowing down anytime soon either, so Instagram advertising will likely continue to thrive.

A smartphone screen that displays the Instagram app icon.
Unsurprisingly, Instagram remains the penultimate marketing hotbed in 2021.

YouTube remains popular and effective as well, albeit notably less so than Instagram. At the same time, higher production costs and other factors make influencer rates typically twice as high. Nonetheless, it offers a safe choice and a distinct, unique platform to consider.

Finally, TikTok already rivals Twitter, and offers a “rising star” option with appealing rates. One should note, however, that rates may likely change more abruptly as it finds its place in the market.

Should you invest in influencer marketing in 2021?

To summarize, influencer marketing offers a lucrative opportunity to refine your social media strategies. As effective social media outreach and engagement continue to pose a challenge, influencers offer to humanize your messaging and deliver notable ROI. That is not to say, however, that rates and prevalence alone should drive your choices. Instead, whenever possible, it’s highly advisable to research your choices carefully – and consult digital marketing professionals when in doubt.

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