Influencer Marketing Shows Mixed Metrics in February

Influencer marketing is growing steadily in 2017, with the number of sponsored posts increasing by 17 percent in February, according to HYPR data.

The number of disclosed sponsored posts in February totaled 97,345, up from 83,000 in January. Growth on a week by week basis climbed significantly compared to January figures, with 24.2K posts in week 1 (up 5.2K), 25K in week 2 (up 4.3K), week 3 numbers dipped slightly to 23.9K, but still surpassed the January figure (up 2.4K), before rising to close week 4 with 24K (up 1.4K).

As predicted, brands activating influencers increased, with 6.5K companies partaking in week 1 (up 1.7K), 7K in week 2 (up 1.5K), 6.7K in week 3 (up 800,000) and holding at 6.7K in week 4 (up 600,000). Approximately 17.4K new companies activated influencers in February—down slightly from January’s figure of 20K.

Participating influencers are on the rise, with 17.3K active in week 1 (up 3.8K from January), 17.8K in week 2 (up 3.3K), 17K in week 3 (up 1.5K) and 17.1K in week 4 (up 800,000).

These numbers show steady growth for influencer marketing in February. In particular, HYPR has noticed a shift towards brands and companies activating influencers for campaigns, which represents a greater emphasis on partnering with influencers for marketing initiatives.

Influencer Marketing Opens 2017 with Continued Growth

After claiming a $2 billion market share in 2016, we predict influencer marketing will continue rising significantly in 2017.

Looking at January numbers, we’re seeing significant week over week traction on Instagram with over 30 percent growth in January alone. HYPR identified over 83,000 disclosed sponsored posts in January 2017. Perhaps more meaningful than the overall number are the growth numbers on a week over week basis, with 19K posts in week 1, 20.7K in week 2, 21.5K in week 3 and 22.6K in week 4. Early February numbers suggest growth will continue.

Brand participation showed strong growth, with 4.8K companies participating in week 1, 5.5K in week 2, 5.9K in week 3 and 6.1K in week 4, with a total of approximately 20K unique brands activating influencers in January—on average, an increase of more than 4 sponsored posts per brand. Here as well, we are seeing continued growth in February (as will be detailed in our next post).

The trend continues when looking at participating influencers – and HYPR recorded a substantial spike in the number of participating influencers, with 13.5K in week 1, 14.5K in week 2, 15.5K in week 3, and 16.3K in week 4.

All week 4 numbers, and January numbers in total, represent record highs for the industry but are also projected to be quickly broken in February.

Perhaps most meaningful is the continued shift towards the use of micro-influencers—account holders with less than 100,000 followers. Brands are leaning heavily on micro-influencers. Perhaps this is a result of rising costs associated with activating the bigger names, and perhaps a result of brands finding a higher ROI with smaller players. Micro-influencers with an audience of less than 100,000 made up over 90% of the influencer population in January, a significant shift from 2016 numbers.

Influencer Marketing became a $2B market in 2016; Announcing the HYPR Influencer Marketing Index

Influencer marketing spend 2016

Much of the influencer marketing industry is drowned out by misleading vanity metrics like “number of followers” and “how many likes and shares” an influencer has. These metrics provide limited value because they don’t provide an accurate way to measure return on investment. The FTC stepped in recently, requiring every sponsored post to be disclosed as an ad. Now it is possible for companies like HYPR to measure industry metrics. Tracking sponsored posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, HYPR identified, in the last quarter of 2016 alone, over 100,000 disclosed sponsored posts. Of those, nearly 63% were made by what we define as long tail, or micro-influencers (less than 100,00 followers), slightly less than 31% were made by mid-sized influencers (100,000 to 1 million followers), and just 6% were made by large influencers (above 1 million followers).

It’s becoming clear that Influencer Marketing is entering the age of the micro-influencer. Brands on the cutting edge, are finding that they can aggregate hyper-specific audiences at mass, through the identification and activation of a select group of micro-influencers. More effective automation is going to be introduced in 2017 and will rapidly drive down the costs of identification, activation and measurement, while increasing the quality of influencer based audience aggregation. Tracking of campaigns will further drive transparency and efficiency.

Micro influencers enter the stage

 

The chart above demonstrates a strong shift towards micro-influencers and away from influencers with overwhelmingly large followings. Over the past year, activations of micro-influencers grew from around 60% to over 92% of activations at the end of the year. The growth is even more inspiring when we look at spend. Micro-Influencers started 2016 with approximately 6% of spend directed at them and finished the year with over 20%. We anticipate this trend will continue growing as discovery, measurement and activation solutions become more available and brands become aware of the opportunity to access the micro influencers at scale.

HYPR has built a model that assigns a price to every social post. This is impacted by a variety of metrics, including each influencer’s engagement rate, audience size (which still unfortunately plays a major role in how influencers charge), platform and format (video, text, short-form writing or long-form writing). Our model shows astounding results, with an approximate $2 billion run rate achieved in December 2016, (including adjustments for immeasurable platforms like Snapchat). The growth curve was the kind of hockey stick most market participants dream of, with spend increasing almost 8X when comparing January 2016 (~19 million on measurable platforms) and December 2016 (~142 million on measurable platforms). To be fair though, disclosing campaigns has become more and more prevalent during 2016, and it is likely that many undisclosed campaigns in the early part of the year went unmeasured – leading growth rates to look even bigger. Our intent is to continue to monitor this trend and produce supplemental information as the underlying data becomes more accurate throughout 2017.

We welcome you to the influencer marketing index. We’ll regularly update this page with data tracking the size of the market, so bookmark this page and come back regularly!