Spoiler alert: no, influencer marketing is not dead in 2022, and if you haven’t briefed yourself on what influencers are and how to use them to your eComm business’s advantage — the time has come.
Shhhh…we’ve done a lot of work to make this very easy for you. We’re nice like that.
Influencers have certainly made their mark and proved themselves as a top marketing strategy in 2021. Whether you're in eCommerce or not, there is no escaping the power of influencer marketing. Still, the term “influencer” evokes a sense of ugh in a lot of people (us included, tbh), and Instagram is starting to feel a lot like the new QVC.
Anyone else suspicious of literally any influencer-endorsed product they received as Christmas gifts last year?
No? You’re telling us no one else’s sister gifted them the “TikTok Pants”? (They really do work wonders. Thanks, mysterious TikTok influencer.)
OK, but(t) (heh) enough about flattering deceptive yoga pants. Let’s hit you with some persuasive numbers.
Just How Viable are Influencers as Part of a Marketing Strategy in 2022?
Per Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2021 report:
- The influencer industry market size saw its biggest jump yet last year, reaching $13.8 billion. It’s forecasted to become a $16.4 billion industry in 2022. Casual.
- 93% of marketers have used influencer marketing. 75% of brands intend on a significant influencer marketing budget for 2022.
- 80% of consumers have bought something recommended by an influencer through clicking on a link or image.
- 89% of respondents said influencer marketing ROI is “at least as good” as other marketing channels. 48% say it’s better…and these numbers are expected to increase.
TL;DR, influencers and influencer marketing campaigns are here to stay. But wait! Before you run off to DM Ru Paul asking to collab: a quick lesson in the current tiers of influencers and how to find your perfect match.
Are All Influencers Created Equal?
Indeed…not. There are several “tiers” of influencers. Here’s a pretty graph to illustrate:
“Ah, so this is high school all over again. Most popular kid has the greatest influence.”
Not so fast.
Yeah, a retweet from Taylor Swift would probably drive a ton of traffic to your store, but that’s maybe not in your marketing budget. Fortunately, studies show people are more likely to buy a product they see promoted by a non-”celebrity” influencer.
So which category of influencer is best for your Shopify business? Let’s figure it out together with a nice pros and cons list.
Mega-influencers (1M + followers)
- Massive number of followers can mean greater visibility (if their follower list isn’t brimming with bots)
- Create sell-out demand
- Best for well-known brands
- Insane expense (You could purchase two 2022 Mclaren 765LT Spiders for what you’d pay Dwayne Johnson for a single Instagram post…and you’d probably get more clout from the cars, tbh.)
- Hard to get in touch with
- Sometimes perceived as inauthentic
Macro-influencers (500k-1M followers)
- Drive the best deal in terms of influencer marketing CPM (cost per thousand impressions)
- Hailed as “the sweet spot” between cost and reach
- Still expensive – these influencers make a living off this, after all
- Questionable authenticity
- May care less about your company and more about their social media presence
Mid-tier Influencers (50-500K followers)
- Stronger reach than micro and nano
- More accessible than macro and mega
- Easier to contact, more affordable
- More engaging and trustworthy than micro, nano, or mega
- Still pretty expensive for new brands or limited marketing budgets – think: hundreds to thousands per post, depending on their reach
- You’re probably one of many sliding into their DMs
- Influencer pods
Micro-Influencers (10-50K followers)
- Great at reaching niche or special interest audiences
- Higher quality engagement
- Lower cost
- More brand-influencer communication required
- Some potential risk (*cough* fake followers)
- Lower reach
Nano-influencers (1-10K followers)
- Strong engagement for price is likely*
- Most affordable (free product for posts)
- Motivated to grow following (generally responsive & engaged)
- Can be inexperienced
- Lowest reach of all tiers
*Because nanos typically have the time to actually engage regularly with their audience, they give off more of a “friend” vibe than many of the larger tiers, meaning nano followers are more likely to get curious about new brand promotions in the influencer’s feed.
For these last two tiers, we want you to pay extra close attention.
Micro vs. Nano Influencers
Do micro-influencers live up to the hype? Are nano-influencers seriously going to become a thing? Which is more effective? What does “effective” even mean?????
Deep breaths. Let’s start with the basics of an effective influencer:
- Engagement is key. Research shows more engagement from followers in general means followers are less likely to scroll past your sponsored post when they see it show up on the influencer’s feed.
- Effective influencing should lift your brand recognition and create conversions. Comments and likes are great, but effective influencers will drive traffic (and sales) to your Shopify store.
- Niche influencers’ feeds should already be aligned with your brand.
- An effective influencer should be committed to producing relevant, authentic, and high-quality content.
- Dedication. A motivated influencer will become intimately familiar with your brand and leave the door open for future partnerships.
So, Are Micro-influencers the Most Effective?
With all the buzz surrounding micros in 2021, it certainly looks like it. They even had their moment in Forbes, where they were praised for their particular usefulness for eCommerce sales. (We also gave them some snaps, over here.)
Social Bakers hilariously invoked the old adage, it’s not the size, it’s what you do with it that counts when referring to micros’ smaller followings – and they ain’t wrong.
Micro-influencers report up to a 60% increased engagement and 20% higher conversion rate compared to macro-influencers.
For brands who can’t afford two Mclarens Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, micro-influencers may be the way to pump up your ROI. Plus, there are tons of resources for finding the perfect micro-influencer depending on your vertical.
Need a head start? Check out this list of 150 micro-influencers in every niche – and their emails! (Definitely not creepy.)
How About Nano-influencers?
2022 could very well be the year of the nano-influencer. If you select the right one, you may have an opportunity for a beautiful long-term hustle buddy. Your nano today might be a micro next year. If they’re committed, they may even hit macro status. (They grow up so fast. 🥲 )
The main takeaway: maintain relationships with your influencers. If they grow bigger and they like what you offer, they may just take your brand to the top with them. Plus, nanos’ numbers aren’t too shabby.
The Influencer’s Playground: Social Media Channels
Instagram has been considered the king for quite some time, but all this TikTok…talk has us wondering…is the throne in danger? 👀 Maybe!
Many marketers are making it a top priority this year. The popularity of TikTok as an influencer channel is rapidly growing, and nipping at the heels of IG. They expanded their partnership with Shopify in 2021 and have their eye on strengthening TikTok Shopping.
But for now, Instagram is still the most valuable channel for social media marketing, and 60% of marketing specialists rely on it.
It’s no surprise, given features like collabs and the “Add Yours” sticker for Stories, which bolster your brand’s image by aligning you with other trusted accounts in your niche and increase your chances of going viral, respectively.
However — at the end of the day, what matters is which channel and influencer is going to be the best match for your company. That might not be Instagram or TikTok. So, let’s consider some “less popular,” but still effective, influencer channels your customers may be using.
No, really… someone’s aunt is actually living for Facebook influencers, and Facebook fans are loyal AF. Facebook is still the most popular social media channel. You can pretty quickly determine if there’s a Facebook influencer out there for you.
According to the OMD influencer audit, people still love turning to their favorite fitness influencer for YouTube works-outs or make-up tutorials. As for entertainment, kids and family, and auto – YouTube is still fighting with IG for the top spot.
Retweet means big reach. Good Twitter influencers are stars at creating organic promotions. They not only serve up deliciously clickable tweets, but also find all kinds of creative ways to up the ante on authenticity.
Check this out:
Visually pleasing. Excellent for aficionados of home decor, travel, and lifestyle influencer campaigns. Very popular with U.S. moms.
A currently under-tapped market in terms of influencers that is expected to really take off in 2022. Twitch differs from YouTube in that it caters to an ever-growing audience of live stream enthusiasts, while YouTube is meant to house lasting content. That being the case, it’s no surprise that Twitch boasts super high engagement and massive followings in the gaming and eSports sector.
Since most marketers haven’t recognized Twitch’s power, now is your time to sneak in before influencer prices rise.
How Do I Know Which Social Media Channel is Right for Me?
The bottom line is that it’s critical to know your buyer. Are they preteens memorizing dances from TikTok? Your high school classmate-gone-tech-bro who lives to retweet Gary Vaynerchuck? Gamers with tricked-out computer rigs large enough to need their own room?
This information will lead you to finding the ideal influencer on the most effective channel for your online business.
Finally, let’s dive into what we can expect on the influencer horizon in 2022.
Top Influencer Marketing Insights for 2022:
- Influencers will continue to become more professional. Influencing is now a full-time career for some, which means influencers are becoming more business-oriented -- and more costly.
For eCommerce startups and small businesses, some of these top dog influencers may be hard to reach at this point, making micro- or nano-influencers a better option. If your product is a perfect brand fit for an influencer’s audience, the size of that audience may not matter. They may be more willing to work with you, and if the engagement is there, it’ll be a win-win at an affordable price.
- There is a growing collective awareness that influencers are often paid to promote the brands they post. Authenticity will be key moving forward.
Getting an influencer to fall in love with your company will translate well in sponsored content. There are awkwardly forced relationships all over social media; make sure your company doesn’t fall into this trap, too. Plus, with true love comes the prospect of influencers taking your brand with them as they level-up through those influencer tiers!
- Video content is now the most authentic form of influencer content. This lends a distinct advantage to TikTok.
- Influencer channels will be gracing us with more creator-friendly tools for sponsored content. Instagram is still the creme de la creme when it comes to features that allow for smarter influencer and brand partnerships. Make sure to keep up with new features as they roll out! They can showcase your brand with new creative light and prove you’re on top of social media trends.
- With the constant privacy changes and future uncertainty of Meta you really shouldn’t sleep on the strength of organic TikTok in 2022.
Even with all the data, influencer marketing is still kind of overwhelming -- we get it! If you need someone to talk to, we're here.