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February 27, 2020

Are Influencers Actually Influencing?

Kaitlin Cwikla and Bailey Eshbach

Most of us, whether you’re willing to admit it or not, spend arguably too much time scrolling. And most of that scrolling is on social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, even LinkedIn or Venmo have a way of grabbing our attention and pulling us in to consume more and more.

Somewhere along the line, advertisers caught onto this. Classic digital ads that are paid and posted by the brand itself are easy to catch and scroll right past with just a skim of a promotion or statement that whatever their thing is, it’s the BEST THING EVER, CLICK HERE NOW AND BUY IT.

Those are easy to ignore now. What’s a little harder to ignore is someone you trust. A friend, a complete stranger that appears to live a cool life, or that person that taught you how to cut your own bangs one time in a tutorial on YouTube.

What perfectly falls in the middle, you ask? Social media influencers! Who better to trust than someone who is definitely paid by the brand, but isn’t the brand, to influence your willingness to try a new product? It’s the feel of a local, small sourced, authentic brand with the stability and actuality of something as big as Amazon. I’m more open to trying a stupid diet plan that’s four easy payments of $19.99 if my friend recommends it than if I see a millionaire celebrity endorse it when I know for a fact they have a dietician, in-house chef, and a personal trainer.

Brands see this now, and know influencer marketing is a way to cut through the bull.

Influencer marketing has been an ongoing trend in the social media space for the past several years, opening up avenues for companies to reach new audiences and grow awareness for their brand. So many people want to see what it’s about that Google searches for “influencer marketing” have increased by 325% in the last year (Social Media Today). Since its conception, there’s been consistent discussion surrounding the viability of influencer marketing as a part of one’s advertising budget. But, as the industry has grown, many business owners are starting to see the impact that this type of advertising has for growth and overall success. Now a 5-10 billion dollar industry (Digital Marketing Institute), brands both big and small have jumped on the influencer bandwagon to try and expand their reach and revel in the benefits that come with such a prosperous advertising tool.

With the help of brand partnerships, being an influencer can now be, and oftentimes is, a full-time job. In their early days, social media influencers began on channels like YouTube and then Instagram, posting videos or photos that eventually gathered a substantial, like-minded audience. People would even post a lot about a brand and reach out to said brand for a sponsorship. It became a two way conversation. These people who had garnered a large following now wanted to get paid for it if they were benefiting a large corporation with an increase in sales.

There were a few brands that saw this opportunity and jumped on the influencer trend at the very beginning, but not until recently did it become so widespread. According to, 18% of marketers are spending between $100,000 – $500,000 per year on influencer marketing. And, it’s not that surprising. With recent algorithm changes to platforms like Facebook, plus advancements in ad blockers, it’s becoming harder and harder for advertisers to reach their desired audience.

But my question is: As with any marketing tactic after years of use, consumers see it time and time again and can smell if they’re being sold to from a mile away. Is influencer marketing still working? Or can people now spot the fact that this YouTuber with an insanely large following has definitely been paid for this and in fact doesn’t use the product they’re saying they can’t live without?

As with any advertising medium, evaluating performance and being objective when examining  “Do people still trust influencers?” and “Are people still making buying decisions based off of influencer recommendations?” For those who are still looking into incorporating influencer marketing as a part of their advertising strategy, there’s proof in the numbers.

With the use of influencer marketing, businesses can expect $6.50 back for every $1 spent on influencers. Purchase intent increases by 5.2% when consumers are exposed to promotional content posted by influencers on Twitter (Social Media Today). That seems like a very profitable and very genuine tactic to me.

According to, “89% say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels.” These results alone seem to point to influencer marketing as a concrete option for any marketing campaign. Depending on your brand, ROI can be very tangible, or not so much. In the case of the latter, how do we know that we are in fact growing our brand and not wasting money on “earned media spend”. And as far as ROI goes in general, influencer marketing is said to produce 11 times more ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing (Social Media Today).

In a recent study, Digital Marketing Institute found that “not only do 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations but 40% had purchased something after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.”

I think it’s safe to say influencers have thrown a proverbial wrench in the works of traditional digital advertising. It’s fair to say that a corporation may have some  hesitation in trusting strangers to communicate their brand messaging. But the ease of handing someone with a substantial following a product and paying them to be the ones to speak of it’s greatness is something that all businesses should be taking advantage of. Both consumers and brands alike benefit from this tactic by its authentic nature. The trust of consumers is something that advertisers have to be more aware of today, and influencer marketing is an authentic and effective way to gain that trust.[1] [2] [3]  Ready to reshape your digital advertising plan with the help of industry influencers?

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our Influencer Marketing team.

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