Last September, the Federal Trade Commission guided marketers and influencers to clearly disclose their connections to the brands they promote and endorse on social media. Skeptics speculated that headstrong influencers wouldn’t abide by the guidelines, and, even if they did, it would depress business.
Both predictions were overly pessimistic.
At least on Instagram, the FTC’s transparency guidelines have been adopted quickly, and the influencer business appears to be thriving.
Last year, there were 1.5 million posts with an #ad hashtag on Instagram -- almost double the number of posts in 2016 -- according to new findings from Klear.
Data collected by the influencer-marketing platform also shows that nearly 90% of the sponsored posts in 2017 received up to 1,000 “likes” per post, which suggests a high level of influence involved in #ad posts. On average, #ad posts received 682 likes, last year.
Along with their increasing transparency, what else do we know about today’s influencers? For one, they’re mostly female. Throughout 2017, 83.9% of the #ad posts were posted by women, Klear reports.
As you may have guessed, they ae also mostly millennials. In fact, 18-to-34 year olds were responsible for 72% of #ad posts on Instagram, last year.
In order, top brand categories include fashion and accessories — which make up a full 25% of sponsored posts — beauty and cosmetics; food and beverage; automotive; consumer electronics; travel; entertainment; retail; tech; and fitness and wellness.
In the food and beverage category, it’s worth noting that top brands are not relying on “foodies” to serve as their ambassadors. Rather, their teams of influencers are folks in the fields of “lifestyle,” sports, family and entertainment.
Along with the broad reach, this choice of influencer makes sense, considering that top food brands include McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Donuts and Oreo.
Increasingly, the challenge for these big food brands is not just the high-end aesthetics standards, but other values people now seek in their food. Particularly on Instagram, people are looking for themes such as organic, local, vegan and healthy -- which are not necessarily in McDonald's wheelhouse.
Therefore, partnering with influencers who represent these values is part of the solution.
Also, Klear finds that the buyer decision process for an electronics product is different from fashion or food products. In particular, the time people take to make a decision is much longer and requires far more consideration and research.
Therefore, when it comes to consumer electronics, brands like Samsung, Dyson and Bose are not partnering with influencers just for a photo display.
Rather, they are putting a huge focus on encouraging their partners to share a genuine first-person experience.
This is why it’s so common to see a variety of experts involved in each influencer campaign, including product reviewers, photographers, lifestyle influencers and more.