Benchmark Statistics for 2022: Influencer Marketing Trends in Review

January 3, 2022
Last updated on
January 6, 2022

Cue the eye-roll at another year in review post, especially as we charge ahead into a new year. But as Carl Sagan once said, "You have to know the past to understand the present."

2021 was a wild ride. We were still shaking off the cobwebs of 2020 and trying our best to achieve a sense of normalcy. Travel returned, Broadway returned, as did The Olympics. We (in some cases) felt more comfortable shopping, eating at restaurants, and simply seeing each other in person again. Resiliency flourished. All the while, the influencer marketing industry continued to evolve and grow.

Here's a glimpse at what we discovered when comparing 2020 to 2021, according to 2021 Fohr data:

  • Engagement rates are highest with nano and micro-influencers, with followings between 1-10k
  • Average caption length decreased by 7%, from 434 characters to 404
  • According to Fohr data, and due to company growth, dollars paid out to influencers and creators from 2020 to 2021 increased by 88.3%.

Let's look at some of this year's influencer marketing industry stats and piece together the numbers puzzle.

Industry Trends: Market Investment Reaches Billions & Influencer Payouts Increase by 88%

Investment in the influencer marketing industry continues to increase, meaning creators are more valuable than ever. For Fohr, in 2021, we more than doubled the size of our team to manage business on a new scale.

And as the business develops, so do the types of partnerships between brands and influencers. In 2021, we were proud to say that we saw a greater desire for long-term influencer and brand ambassador partnerships than ever before.

  • According to Fohr data, and due to company growth, dollars paid out to influencers and creators from 2020 to 2021 increased by 88.3%.
  • "The creator economy has seen a record $1.3B in funding in 2021 alone," states CBInsights. In 2021, the market was valued at a record $13.8 billion, reported by Statista. MediaKix says that brands are "expected to spend up to a whopping $15B on influencer marketing by 2022."
  • According to Research and Markets, influencer marketing was a $10.24 billion industry in 2021. However, they anticipate that the global influencer marketing market will reach $84.89 billion by 2028.
  • 2021 saw a 26.7% increase in sponsored Instagram posts according to Small Business Trends. Meanwhile, sponsored stories increased by 33.5%, with influencers creating an average of 16 sponsored stories a week.
  • The term “influencer marketing” grows by a staggering 5000% each month based on Google Trends data.

Influencer Trends: Benchmark Engagement Rates & Caption Lengths

Post Engagement Rates Higher on TikTok than Instagram in 2021

According to MediaKix, engagement is by far the most common metric used for measuring influencer marketing success, measured by 75% of marketers for influencer marketing.

We've found that the number of followers doesn't necessarily equate to a more engaged community. The more accurate measure of the power of an influencer's community is in how engaged, authentic, or relevant their community is. As we say at Fohr, persuasion over performance.

In our Fohr x Later report on The Selling Power of Influencers, we found that nano influencers have the highest engagement rate of all influencer tiers, followed by micro-influencers. And the benefits of working with them to reach niche, highly engaged communities didn't go unnoticed.

In 2021, we saw brands embrace partnerships with nano and micro-influencers on a larger scale than ever before. According to the ANA, 92% of consumers trust micro-influencers more than traditional advertising or celebrity endorsement.

Engagement isn't the only metric used to assess a post's performance. However, it can serve as a helpful benchmark to understand what content resonates most with your particular audience. ⁠

  • Engagement rates are highest in follower tiers from 1-10k
  • TikTok engagement rates were higher overall than Instagram in 2021, averaging 4.6%.
  • Engagement rates on Instagram dropped in 2021 compared to 2020, except for the 5-10k follower range, which increased from 4.8% to 5.9%.
  • In 2020, Instagram engagement rates averaged at 2.5% across all following sizes, and in 2021 averaged at 1.9%.
Instagram vs. TikTok Average Engagement Rates in 2021
Source: 2021 Fohr Data
Instagram Average Engagement Rates 2020 vs. 2021
Source: 2021 Fohr Data

Post caption length decreased by 7% in 2020 vs. 2021

According to Fohr's 2021 survey, 82% of respondents trust influencers. How do they build this trust with their followings? By sharing more of themselves and their personal stories with their audience.

Caption lengths in 2021 were only slightly shorter than in 2020, with a 7% decrease from 434 characters to 404. The decrease isn’t much to ring the alarms about, but does it reveal something else?

(For context, those last two paragraphs added up to about 400 characters.)

The No. 1 rule of our Ambassador Mindset is to either have love or tell a story. Whether this is done in the caption or conveyed via video format, your sponsored post should adopt a “show, don’t tell” approach. Or, in marketing speak, discuss benefits vs. features. With more video capabilities than ever before, influencers can demonstrate the effects and benefits rather than explain or list product features in the caption.

Let’s compare:

  1. An aesthetically pleasing, flat-lay product shot with a lengthy caption telling us all of the potential benefits of using it
  2. An entertaining short-form video showing the before and after effect of using the product, without having to say a word.

Consumer Trends: Social Commerce More Seamless than Ever

Historically, influencer marketing has succeeded as a top-of-the-funnel, first-click, powerful brand discovery engine. Bottom-of-the-funnel efforts belonged more to Google, email marketing, and Facebook ads. Influencers can now directly impact shopping habits shifts with more consumers purchasing products on their desktops, phones, and social media.

Forbes states, “As more platforms offer e-commerce features for users, new shopping behaviors and related influencer marketing opportunities for brand sponsorships will likely continue to emerge.”

  • On a scale of 1-5, 94% of Fohr survey respondents rated influence on their purchasing decisions a three or higher
  • 71% of consumers from our 2021 Fohr surveys said they would search for gift ideas on Instagram
  • 60% of respondents said they had purchased a product they saw on TikTok
  • According to Social Media Today, compared to regular ads, branded content ads drive 40% higher click-through rates on average and have 85% more likelihood to drive more add-to-carts

With these shifts, influencers are becoming the entire funnel. They’re the brand discovery engine AND the storefront.

A new guide published by Facebook states, “The influencer marketing industry shows no signs of stopping. In fact, micro-influencers - content creators with a following of less than 25,000 - are driving better results than macro-influencers. Their appeal is rooted in their abilities to create relatable content that showcases their knowledge and conveys the passions they share with their highly engaged audience.”

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