The unexpected growth of influencer marketing means that dollars are often spent without a clear sense of return on investment or best practices.
According to a recent survey, 38 percent of marketers are unable to tell whether influencer activity actually drives sales, and 86 percent are unsure how influencer fees should be calculated.
Influencer marketing has been defined by brands deploying pricy deals with A-list celebrities and mega-influencers like Selena Gomez and Amber Rose in a bid to reach the widest audience possible.
However, not every brand can afford premium celebrities. As a result, budget-conscious brands are working with a wider range of influencers, often prioritizing engagement quality over scale.
While mega-influencers can rack up follower counts in the millions, brands can still generate quality engagement—along with an increased perception of authenticity—by partnering with smaller influencers whose images reinforce specific brand values.
L2’s Influencers report reveals a marketplace of widely divergent strategies, even within industries. Some brands opt for a large cast of smaller, strategic influencers; some focus their investments on one or two high-profile endorsements; and still others adopt a hybrid approach, relying on both social media powerhouses and niche personalities.
L2 researchers collected all Instagram content shared by the 1,145 brands featured in any Digital IQ Index between April 2016 and June 2017, which amounted to more than 2 million posts. Over 5,000 unique influencer accounts were mentioned in total, with 922 brands mentioning at least one influencer and the most active brand, Red Bull, mentioning more than 400. Influencers were then categorized into seven segments based on how many followers they had.