Influencer Content Sways Youth Who Engage With It: 4 Insights

April 9, 2018

Influencer content is likely to find a trusting youth audience, per results from a study by Fullscreen and Shareablee. In fact, almost 4 in 10 18-34-year-olds are more likely to trust what an influencer says about a brand than what the brand says about itself, according to the survey of young adults who have interacted with influencer content.

Here are 4 additional insights from the report.

1. Influencers Are Believed to be Honest

The survey of 18-34-year-olds who have interacted with influencer content found a majority (62% of 18-24-year-olds and 55% of 25-34-year-olds) agreeing that influencers are “honest about their beliefs and opinions.” Moreover, a majority feel that influencers seem knowledgeable about the topics they discuss, and about half say that influencers feel real and authentic in the way they communicate.

That’s welcome news for brands, who have turned to influencers primarily because they can offer them a greater degree of authenticity.

At the same time, it’s worth noting that a new analysis [pdf] out of Princeton University reveals that only 10% of affiliate links in videos posted by influencers on YouTube contain a written disclosure. Additionally, an even smaller proportion (7%) of Pinterest pins containing an affiliate link came with a written disclosure. A separate new study from the ANA found only 38% of marketers using #sponsored and 35% using #ad to disclose that the influencer post had been paid for and sponsored by a brand.

It seems that many youth have caught on to this: only one-third of 18-24-year-olds and 39% of 25-34-year-olds surveyed believe that influencers are transparent about working with brands.

But it seems that most will look past this: while the vast majority believe that influencers are in it to earn money and for self promotion, about half also feel that influencers create content for self-expression and creativity and to provide interesting and useful content for their fans.

2. Four in 10 Say They’ve Tried an Influencer’s Recommendation

One of the key advantages for influencers is the connection they establish with their audiences: in fact, 57% of 18-24-year-olds and 47% of 25-34-year-olds surveyed feel that influencers share the same passions and interests as they do.

Furthermore, more than 4 in 10 young adults who have interacted with influencer content believe that influencers’ recommendations are accurate.

Given these high levels of trust and belief in shared interests, it’s not too surprising that many of these youth are willing to try something based on an influencer’s recommendation. That’s true for 41% of 18-24-year-olds and 48% of 25-34-year-olds surveyed, who said they were motivated to try something an influencer recommended (such as a recipe/restaurant, exercise, etc.) as a result of viewing or interacting with influencer posts on social media.

Older Millennials (25%) were less likely to say they’d made a purchase as a direct result of interacting with influencer content, but more than 4 in 10 younger Millennials said they had done so.

3. Micro-Influencers Drive Brand Trials

Which influencers are the most effective? The Fullscreen and Shareablee report takes a couple of approaches to this question, based on the youth survey and also on an analysis of more than 30,000 influencers with different follower sizes. The analysis looked specifically at influencer content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube from January through September 2017. It’s worth noting that Snapchat was not included in the analysis, though the omission is mitigated by data suggesting that influencers are seeing more engagement on Instagram Stories than on Snapchat.

The results of the analysis indicate that influencers with follower counts of 1-20 million and 250k-1 million have the highest average engagement rates across the platforms measured, at 0.66% and 0.6%, respectively.

The survey results support the impact of influencers of that size. Respondents were more likely to say they’d made a purchase in response to content they had viewed or interacted with from an influencer with 1-20 million followers than from any other influencer.

But micro-influencers – those with less than 250,000 followers – seem particularly adept at getting their fans to try a recommendation. Fully 45% of respondents said they’d tried something recommended by a micro-influencer, which was the joint highest success rate of the different influencer sizes.

These findings are worth considering in tandem with previous research from L2. In its Influencers 2017 report, L2 found an inverse correlation between follower size and engagement rates for Instagram influencers. In other words, the smaller the influencer’s follower size, the higher the engagement rate. (One other interesting finding: interaction rates were considerably lower for influencer posts containing branded hashtags in the caption than for non-promotional posts.)

So while smaller influencers may not offer as much scale, they do seem to boast greater resonance with their audiences and may drive higher engagement rates than celebrities. And as the new ANA study notes, “more followers don’t always equal better results.”

4. Instagram’s Where the Action Is

Instagram is the platform that B2C marketers feel is the most important this year for influencer marketing, and is the platform that marketers believe is the single most important channel for influencer marketing, according to the new ANA study. And here’s one good reason why: it drives far more engagement than other platforms.

In their analysis of more than 30,000 influencers, Fullscreen and Shareablee found that influencers active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube tended to distribute more of their social posts to Twitter and Facebook than to Instagram and YouTube, but that they generated the most engagement from Instagram.

In fact, while influencers of all types posted less than 20% of their analyzed content to Instagram, they received more than 60% of total engagement from the platform. Instagram also seems to be a strong candidate for communicating with youth: in a recent survey, teens pointed to the platform as the best channel by which to reach them.

Finally, Instagram seems like a good destination for those brands attracted to the high engagement rates boasted by micro-influencers, who seem quite dependent on the platform. This influencer group not only has the highest rate of co-branded or sponsored content (8%) on Instagram, but also derives the largest share of its total cross-platform interactions on that platform (86%).

The full study is available for download here.

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