Influencer marketing. A few years ago it might have been mistaken for yet another marketing buzzword that would buzz off after a few months. And while many still have their reservations about influencer marketing, there’s no denying the significant investment businesses are making in this area. And it’s not just about collaborations with celebrities either. Micro influencers (those with fewer, though potentially more engaged) followers are enjoying some of the investment into this space.
But how much is being spent? Is this area growing? What are the statistics around fake followers? And what else do you need to know? We took a look at the numbers, polled 1,000 people, dug into some search trends and crunched some figures to compile this – our 2021 influencer marketing statistics round up.
Our Findings: The Quick Version
If you’re really not feeling reading 1,000+ words we won’t be offended. Honest. Just take our bullet points and leave.
Here are the key influencer marketing statistics from our research:
- People are more than twice as likely to trust the people they follow on social media to give an honest review of a product than they are to trust the website of the company selling the product
- But numbers are still low. Just 6.1% of people polled said they trust people they follow on social media to give an honest review of a product.
- Those aged 55 to 64 are the most likely to trust the people they follow on social media to provide an honest product review (9.2%)
- Searches for “influencer marketing” in Google UK grew by 400% between 2016 and 2021
- There are 21,500 searches per month in Google UK (average of previous 12 months) for “buy instagram followers” as people look to try and cash in getting paid as influencers
- Influencer marketing is expected to be worth more than $13 billion globally in 2021
- There are more than 42,000 companies on the Companies House register (as of 16th March 2021) whose name contains”Influencer”
You’ll find more context and background (plus other figures) below.
Do people trust influencers?
Are consumers actually influenced by influencers when it comes to buying decisions? And do they trust them to give an honest review of a product?
There have been some conflicting numbers over the years here, so we went out to figure it out for ourselves.
Between 17th and 19th March 2021, we surveyed 1,000 people in the UK and asked this question:
Which of the following sources do you trust to give an honest review of a product?
We gave the following options and allowed people to choose multiple:
- TrustPilot Reviews
- The company website selling the product
- People you follow on social media
- Google Reviews
- News Websites
- None of the above
We’re a cynical bunch!
The majority (59.4%) said they trust none of those sources.
Here’s a summary of the responses:
|People you follow on social media||6.10%|
|The company website selling the product||2.50%|
|None of the above||59.40%|
Most people trust no source from our list for an honest review. But our respondents were more than twice as likely to trust someone they follow on social media as the company’s own website.
There are gender based and aged based variations here in terms of how many people trust people they follow on social media to provide an honest review. Here’s the breakdown:
Men (7%) are likelier to trust people they follow on social media to provide an honest review of a product than women (5.3%)
How likely we are to trust the people we follow on social media to provide an honest product review varies by age too from a measly 1.7% of all 25 to 34 year olds up to 9.2% of those aged 55. 64.
Here’s the full breakdown.
|18 – 24||5.60%|
|25 – 34||1.70%|
|35 – 44||7.70%|
|45 – 54||6.00%|
|55 – 64||9.20%|
Influencer Marketing: Let’s Google That
- Searches for “influencer marketing” rose by 400% from 880 to 4400 comparing January 2016 with January 2021
- Searches for “influencer agency” are up 26-fold in that time too
- “How to become an influencer” has grown from practically no searches to 5,400 per month in 5 short years
We can always rely on Google data to help us get into the minds of our population (since we all pretty much Google as a brain dump).
So, using kwfinder.com, we compared the number of searches in January 2016 with the number of searches in January 2021 (specific to the UK) for various queries relating to influencer marketing. Here’s the data:
|Keyword||Searches Google UK Jan 2016||Searches Google UK Jan 2021|
|How to become an influencer||20||5400|
Fake it till you make it?
Wherever a money making opportunity arises, you can expect unscrupulous opportunists too. And there’s a phenomenal surge in demand for “fake followers” on platforms, designed to trick big spending brands into thinking certain Instagram accounts have more influence than they really do.
We can see the surge in demand in this area highlighted in Google Search statistics for “fake follower” related terms. Below we show the number of searches in Google UK (based on data from kwfinder.com)
|Query||Average Searches/Month Google UK|
|Buy instagram followers||21500|
|Buy twitter followers||3100|
|Buy tiktok followers||4400|
|Buy Instagram likes||8400|
The figures above are based on an average of the last 12 months, but we can see how demand has changed over time:
The Business of Influencer Marketing
A wealth of agencies and consultants are operating now as influencer marketing service providers or platforms brokering agreements between influencers and the brands looking to use them.
- As of March 16th 2021, there are over 42,000 businesses on the Companies House Register with “influencer” in their name (of course not all of these are necessarily providing said services
- A search in Google UK for “Influencer marketing agency” “uk” yields 189,000 results!
Investment into Influencer Marketing
Despite the potential pitfalls of fake followers and the like, it’s not stopping marketing teams from investing.
- Influencer marketing is set to become a $13 billion industry in 2021
- That same study found that 75% of brands plan to allocate budget to influencer marketing
Influencer Marketing is Going Nowhere
Despite the fact that research finds mixed results in terms of whether users trust social media influencers, this is a fast growing channel that is receiving increased investment. And with the growing prevalence of channels like TikTok, we can probably expect to see an increase in short form video influencer content.
Done well, influencer marketing can help a brand reach a new audience, win customers and enhance brand awareness.
Done badly, it’s a money pit with little return.
Like most things in marketing, influencer marketing itself is neither good nor bad. The execution is what really matters and determines whether or not it will be successful.
Over the coming year or two, it seems reasonable to expect further growth. And if the industry does indeed exceed £13 billion in 2021, it’s anyone’s guess as to what 2022 will bring.