The influencer-marketing software company's new report calculates success based on Earned Media Value (EMV), the monetary value of media attention a brand gets on social media, both organically and purchased.
EMV is determined by tracking Instagram influencers (defined as >15K followers) with their brand-sponsored postings, then multiplied by $5 per thousand followers, which is an approximation of the cost of advertising on Instagram.
The results state that the top 20 brands created $659 million in EMV from some 11,000 paid influencers. The top 20 brands also scored posts from another 158,000 accounts with at least 15,000 followers. In total, these postings generated over 3 billion likes from January through May. (It is important to note that the report does not link these likes to actual sales.)
The big takeaway is how brands considered smaller or independent are beating better known brands, due to their alignment with the "right" influencers. To that end, the report believes Fashion Nova ranks as the No. 1 spot for 2018, thanks to its partnership with rapper Cardi B.
Over the first five months of the year, Fashion Nova saw $125 million in EMV from both paid and organic mentions, which makes it the top performing brand on Instagram. This is twice the EMV of the No. 2 brand, Liketoknow.it.
Moreover, InfluencerDB believes each of Cardi B’s posts deliver $128,198 EMV on average for the fashion site, which teamed with the performer before she gained massive global fame. This means the partnership between the two is viewed as more authentic than if she signed with the company after her success.
The brand also works with other influencers, like American singer Chiquis Rivera, who has more than 2 million followers and has created an EMV worth $14,222 for the brand over 16 postings.
Another high-performing brand is Sephora, which worked with 859 paid influencers, the most of any beauty brand.
The report also examined individual campaigns to calculate that the top 20 campaigns produced $142 million in EMV. The posts from these campaigns garnered over 833 million likes and featured over 25,000 paid and unpaid influencers posting.
One of the best performing campaigns, according to the report, was Marvel's "Infinity War," which created an EMV of $40.5 million. Notably, the hashtag #infinitywar was mainly powered by organically created content, as only 1% of the content was paid for, says InfluencerDB. Much of the shared content related to the movie’s release, like funny or inspiring quotes from the film.
Ultimately, #infinitywar was used by over 6,280 influencers during the past five months, gaining more than 297,805,073 likes. The top three postings with the most likes were all shared by Robert Downey Jr. and account for a total of 5.5 million likes. The actor alone created an EMV of $1.2 million. Another key to its success was its bilingual social media strategy, which used both the #infinitywar and #guerrainfinita hashtags.
Although the report chronicles many lesser-known brands, such as SugarBearHair, FlatTummy and OOTD magazine, the better known Zara, National Geographic and H&M all performed strongly with their Instagram initiatives, as did Land O'Lakes' #TheFoodEffect campaign, which earned an estimated $1.8 million in EMV.
The report's data set included postings on Instagram accounts with more than 15,000 followers between January 1-May 31, 2018. They contained hashtags indicating a sponsorship like #ad in multiple languages, as well as those with more than 100 likes.
With these filters, the agency then analyzed more than 900,000 posts to establish the best-performing brands of 2018 to date. It further analyzed a subset of over 450,000 postings with campaign hashtags to determine the most "effective" influencer-marketing campaigns.