- Instagram experienced a 39% year-over-year jump in influencer marketing in 2018, with more than 2.1 million sponsored posts shared on its platform, according to a new report from Klear shared with Mobile Marketer. The social media analytics and intelligence firm examined posts that used the #ad disclosure between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 last year.
- Helping contribute to the growth were products the Facebook-owned app has continued to expand and monetize, such as the disappearing photo and video collages called Stories. One in three Instagram sponsored posts shared in 2018 was in the Stories section, Klear found.
- In terms of who shared the most sponsored content, women, micro-influencers and millennials stood out, with women making up 84.6% of the market and micro-influencers covering 84%. For brands, lifestyle, fashion and beauty were the biggest categories, followed by travel, food and home and interior design.
The new Klear report pinpoints some of the usual suspects driving growth in influencer marketing, such as millennials, but also keys into how the channel has recently evolved, in some ways going smaller and focusing more on formats like video as mobile content consumption rises. Instagram debuted Stories in 2016 as a competitor to Snapchat and has steadily introduced new ad products to the feature, including shopping actions, that have made it a bigger draw for brands looking to link their social content to sales. While categories like fashion and beauty continue to lead the pack on Instagram, marketers from other sectors, like automaker Acura, have dabbled more in the Stories space as they look to win over younger buyers.
The strong presence of micro-influencers on Instagram last year additionally signals that the shine has continued to wear off bigger-name content creators and celebrity influencers, who helped to popularize the influencer trend but have more frequently come under fire for improper ad disclosure and brand safety issues. That scrutiny has been amplified by marketers frustrated that they're potentially overpaying for working with partners who don’t deliver on their commitments or skirt FTC disclosure guidelines altogether.
Luka Sabbat, an actor, model and prominent social influencer, was sued last fall by PR Consulting Inc. for failing to properly promote Snap Spectacles on his Instagram page. Diageo last year also experienced backlash from consumer watchdogs for its work with two celebrity influencers — DJ Khaled and Sean "Diddy" Combs — who were accused of not having properly disclosed posts that were sponsored by the beverage giant's brands. Micro-influencers tend to have smaller but more niche followings, which could make them more appealing and manageable for brands.
Some marketers have taken a stronger stance against bad influencer behavior and pushed for greater transparency as investments continue to pour into the channel. At the Cannes Lions advertising festival last year, Unilever pledged to cut ties with all influencers who have bot or fake followers.
"The scale and scope of influencer marketing is growing at pace and holds increasing importance in the marketing mix as a way for brands to reach consumers given influencers' deep and direct connections with their audiences," the CPG giant's outgoing CMO Keith Weed told our sister publication Marketing Dive. "At the same time, we as an industry need to put in place all possible controls to avoid bad practices such as fake followers, bots, fraud or any dishonest business models that will erode trust in the whole ecosystem."