This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the US social media influencers market including social media influencers market market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the social media influencers market market in the US.

Current market landscape

As consumers’ eyeballs shift from broadcast TV to streaming and social media, brands are diverting more of their marketing budgets to online advertising and to social media influencers. While influencer marketing spend is growing fast, the share of social media users who follow influencers has held relatively steady at about six in 10 over the past few years. Influencers don’t appear to be reaching a new audience, but followers are more engaged – 75% follow three or more categories (up from 68% in 2019) and brands are seeing results – 39% of followers have bought an influencer-promoted product/service or used an influencer discount code to buy something in the past three months.

Market share and key industry trends

  • 59% of social media users follow influencer accounts. 75% of SMIFs follow three or more categories – up from 68% in 2019, resulting in 81% of SMIFs today who say that compared to one year ago, they follow the same amount or more account types. Meanwhile, similar to 2019, about one third of SMIFs self-identifies as an influencer.
  • Entertainment is the top category followed by SMIFs; mainstream celebrities attract the greatest share of SMIFs (58%) followed by social media stars (52%). The next three most popular categories: food/drink, health and fitness, and DIY align with the next most popular influencer types – experts (48%) and niche bloggers (37%) whose professional knowledge gives them the credibility to build a significant following.

Future trends in social media marketing influencers

The current economic climate and breakneck speed of information favors a shift to influencer marketing. Brands cut out the creative agency middleman, saving on costs and production time to quickly jump on timely events’ cultural touchpoints. A challenge for influencers and marketers is to stay on top of the nonstop flow of content and fast pace of trends. What’s funny today is passé tomorrow – or worse – offensive and cause for cancellation. Followers want to engage with influencers and feel a connection but won’t tolerate offensive statements or actions. 67% would unfollow an influencer if they said/did something that went against their values, making influencer marketing not without risk.

Read on to discover more about the social media influencers market, read our US Marketing to Generation Z Market Report, or take a look at our other ECommerce research reports.

Quickly understand social media influencer marketing strategy

  • Trends in social media use and influencer following.
  • The social media influencer market, competitive strategies and market opportunities.
  • Factors impacting influencers and followers.
  • Who follows influencers, top categories followed and impact of endorsement on purchasing.
  • How followers interact with and attitudes towards influencers.

Covered in this influencer marketing report

Brands include: TikTok, YouTube, Twitch, Sprout Social, LinkedIn, Coca-Cola, L’Oréal, Samsung, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram, Sony, Elgato, Meta, Netflix, Nextdoor, Clubhouse.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Fiona O’Donnell, a leading analyst in the Multicultural, Lifestyles, Travel and Leisure sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis on social media influencers market research to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Social media influencers are a powerful marketing asset. An endless cycle of ambitious untapped talent is available as more creators share their lives on social media and look to build a following. New tech tools to enhance content along with brands’ marketing investment has helped influencers to maintain followers’ interest and driven more connections through authentic, meaningful and useful content.

Fiona O'Donnell, Director - Multicultural, Lifestyles, Travel and Leisure
Fiona O’Donnell
Senior Director, US Reports

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Social media influencer marketing outlook, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Social platforms compete for talent – drives content creation and creativity
    • Need an influencer? There’s an agency for that
    • Micro-influencers can have a macro impact
    • Appetite for short-form video, live streaming with influencers
    • Lack of pay transparency continues to be an issue for BIPOC influencers
    • Virtual influencers could be the answer when brands need to stay in control
    • Key consumer insights
  3. Market Value Indicators

    • Influencer marketing growing fast; US accounts for 70% of global spend
      • Figure 2: Influencer marketing industry size ($bn), 2016-22
    • Brands paying a higher price per post
      • Figure 3: Cost per post, by influencer tier, 2017-21
    • Influencer numbers booming, brands looking for in-house talent to manage
  4. Market Factors

    • Digital ad spending – especially social, continues to soar
    • Proliferation of influencer marketing agencies
    • Influencer talent pool is deep and wide – and constantly refreshed
    • Pay rate is unclear, racial pay gap continues to be a hot button
      • Figure 4: Average cost per paid post across all platforms, 2021
    • Tech support – AR/VR could drive deeper engagement
  5. Social Media Platform Performance

    • Social media use is nearly universal
      • Figure 5: Social media usage, 2018-22, video entertainment sources used, 2022
    • Facebook remains at the top for daily usage, TikTok rapidly moving up
      • Figure 6: Social media usage – At least daily, by platform, 2017-22*
  6. Social Media Influencer Followers – Then and Now

    • Instance of following influencers remains steady at about six in 10
      • Figure 7: Follows a social media influencer, 2018-22
    • Three quarters follow three or more categories – up from two thirds in 2019
      • Figure 8: Number of influencer categories followed, 2019 vs 2022
    • About one third self-identifies as an influencer
      • Figure 9: Considers self to be an influencer, by gender and age, 2019 and 2022
    • Content creators/influencers are more supported than ever
      • Figure 10: Sony’s ZV-1 vlogging camera for creators, 2022
  7. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Social platforms invest in creator funds
    • Creator economy booms as platforms adjust monetization, offer new tools
    • Talent agencies foster up-and-coming creators, gaming influencers
      • Figure 11: 100 Thieves signs TikToker, 2022
    • Short-form video content rules for engagement
      • Figure 12: Most engaging types of in-feed social content, 2022
    • Bigger isn’t always better – micro may be a better fit
  8. The Social Media Influencer Follower – Fast Facts

    • Who’s following and who’s influencing?
    • What categories and types of influencers do SMIFs follow?
    • Why do SMIFs follow influencers?
    • What impact do influencers have on SMIFs?
    • How do SMIFs interact with influencers?
  9. Social Media Influencer Followers

    • Room for growth in influencer marketing
      • Figure 13: Social media influencer followers and change in number of accounts followed, 2022
    • 18-44s are key audience for following influencers
      • Figure 14: Social media influencer followers, 2022
    • … but it’s 35-54s, particularly men and parents who think of themselves as influencers
      • Figure 15: Considers self to be an influencer, by key demographics, 2022
    • Mainstream celebrities are the top draw, younger women drive following
      • Figure 16: Influencer types followed, by gender, 2022
      • Figure 17: Influencer types followed, by gender and age, 2022
  10. Reasons for Following Influencers

    • Humor, learning are top draws
      • Figure 18: Reasons for following influencers, 2022
    • A personal connection can help forge loyalty
      • Figure 19: Follows because feels a personal connection, by key demographics, 2022
  11. Categories Followed

    • Social media influencer followers are fans first, followers later
      • Figure 20: Categories followed on social media and count of categories, 2022
    • Followers want inspiration more than information
      • Figure 21: Categories followed on social media, 2019 vs 2022
    • Women follow influencers across more categories, they want inspiration
      • Figure 22: Count of categories and categories followed on social media among 18-44s, by gender, 2022
    • Race, in combination with gender drives category following
      • Figure 23: Select categories followed on social media, by race/Hispanic origin and gender, 2022
  12. Influencer Impact on Purchase Likelihood

    • Influencer endorsements promote positive purchase interest in most categories
      • Figure 24: Influencer impact on purchase likelihood, by category, 2022
    • Men are influenced more broadly; balance is needed in some categories
      • Figure 25: More inclined to purchase due to influencer endorsement – Category, by gender, 2022
    • Middle-income and affluent followers are more receptive to endorsements
      • Figure 26: More inclined to purchase due to influencer endorsement – Category, by household income, 2022
    • Live content followers are most open to influencer endorsement
      • Figure 27: More inclined to due to influencer endorsement – Select categories, by social media platform, 2022
  13. Interacting with Influencers

    • Four in 10 followers bought a product or used an influencer discount code
    • Followers want to engage with influencers – nearly half have watched a live stream
      • Figure 28: Interactions with influencers, 2022
    • Following across multiple categories means more influencer interaction, purchasing
      • Figure 29: Select interactions with influencers, by count of influencer categories followed, 2022
      • Figure 30: Social media platforms used at least daily, by count of influencer categories followed, 2022
    • More men pay to watch, make influencer-based purchases
      • Figure 31: Interactions with influencers, by gender, 2022
    • Hispanic men most engaged with the influencers they follow
      • Figure 32: Select interactions with influencers, by gender and male by race/Hispanic origin, 2022
  14. Attitudes toward Influencers

    • Followers aren’t naïve – most feel influencers are in it for the money, but that’s okay
      • Figure 33: Attitudes toward influencers – Credibility, 2022
    • Niche can be nice
      • Figure 34: Trusts influencers with smaller followings, by key demographics, 2022
    • Personal values matter, two thirds would unfollow for a misalignment
      • Figure 35: Attitudes toward influencers – Following behaviors, 2022
      • Figure 36: “Cancel culture” search term interest, July 2019-August 2022
    • Followers with diverse interests are most likely to unfollow due to a clash in values
      • Figure 37: Attitudes toward influencers – Following behaviors, by count of influencer categories followed, 2022
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

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