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What Is Influencer Marketing? Guide For Brands

Hélène Heath
September 9, 2018
Last Updated On
November 23, 2023
influencer marketing blog header

Influencer marketing has become a norm in today's fast-paced social landscape — with that, there's more than one type of influencer that brands can leverage, so what's suitable for your brand's influencer marketing strategy? 

Learn about influencer marketing, how to grow your brand, and steps to create an influencer strategy.

This blog covers: 

  • What is influencer marketing?
  • About influencer marketing growth. 
  • How to create an influencer marketing strategy. 
  • How to determine if influencer marketing is best for your brand. 

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a strategy based on partnerships between a brand and a social media influencer to promote a product or service. These partnerships can range from a simple mention in the influencer’s typical content to full-blown ad campaigns or commercials. Influencers are typically compensated through free products or monetary payment depending on the type of deal, the size of the influencer’s following, influencer type, engagement, and more.

Social media influencers are defined by their influence on their audience's purchasing decisions. The size of their audience can help determine the type of influencer that aligns with your brand and campaign goals. Influencers with many followers will reach a broad audience but might need to be more diverse for your target audience. Influencers with a smaller following may have a narrow reach but a more dedicated and engaged community primed to purchase. Brands should compare micro-influencers vs. macro-influencers to understand the most effective form of influencer marketing. 

Influencer marketing continues to be one of the most successful ways to reach your target audience and influence your customers — brands should look for opportunities to partner with influencers in your brand's marketing strategy to reach your target audience as best as possible. 

Types Of Social Media Influencers

You might be surprised to learn there are different types of influencers — and it goes beyond which industries they cater to. Influencers are categorized by how many followers they have, and the right fit for your brand depends on your goals and KPIs. 


Nano influencers or nano creators have under 10K followers. Nano-influencers are best used to build or increase your followers. Nano influencers typically see higher average engagement rates than macro-influencers — 9.3% compared to the macros-influencers’ 3.8% engagement rate.


Micro-influencers or creators have between 10K and 100K followers. Micro-influencers are best used to generate brand or campaign awareness.


Macro-influencers have over 100K followers. Like micro-influencers, macro-influencers are best used to generate campaign awareness. While macro-influencers typically see the lowest average engagement at around 3%, they offer the highest reach for brands. This is a great way to get your brand or campaign focus in front of a large target audience. 


Mega influencers have over 1 million followers. 

Why Use Influencer Marketing?

In 2024, over 82% of brands are using influencer marketing. the influencer market was worth 21.1 billion dollars — doubling in size since 2019. In 2024, brands are expected to spend 7.14 billion dollars on influencer marketing in the United States. In addition, over 78% of companies with over 100 employees planned to use influencers in their digital marketing strategy, with 82.7% expected to use them in 2024. In order to compete with other brands, reach new users and find success on social media, most organizations should consider some form of influencer marketing. 

In addition to showing up where your competitors are, 30% of B2B companies have recently explored influencer marketing. This indicates that even unexpected brands are looking to expand their social media marketing strategies with influencer tactics — failing to do the same could mean your brand is left behind.  

Influencer Marketing Growth

Growing a brand on Instagram is not the same it was two years ago, or even one year ago — there's been an evolution in creator marketing and major shifts in how brands partner with different types of influencers.

Influencer Growth from 2019-2020

Instagram has undergone some major shifts since 2019, leaving businesses to reassess, and adapt.

Things began shifting when the algorithm arrived. Instagram business accounts were created by the platform, then native shopping. Meta (then known as Facebook) recognized its role in the influencer marketing industry and implemented a conspicuous paid partnership button for creators to use.

In 2020, 64.5% of marketing strategies used influencers in some way. By 2021, 69.7% of brands use influencers in their marketing strategy.

Influencer Marketing Trends: 2021-2022

By 2021, 69.7% of brands use influencers in their marketing strategy, and this number is expected to grow by 4.8% to 74.5% in 2022 — 41% of brands reported influencer marketing would become a more important part of their strategy in 2021. How else did brand's relationship to influencers change in 2022?

In 2022, brands spent the majority of their influencer marketing budget on Instagram — around 2.2 million dollars. This was followed by:

  • YouTube, $948 million
  • TikTok, $774.8 million
  • Facebook $739 million

Some other trends that impacted influencer marketing in 2022 were:

  • Increased investment in short-form video content
  • Brand's main goals for influencer marketing were to drive conversions over goals like engagement or brand awareness
  • Brands spend slightly less (12.2%) on influencer marketing than 2021

Influencer Marketing Trends: 2024

In 2024, TikTok influencers will become a larger part of brand's marketing strategy. Some other influencer trends to watch for in 2024 include: 

  • Brands are projected to spend $7.14 million on influencer marketing in 2024, up from $4.14 million in 2022. 
  • 78.6% of brands will incorporate influencers into their marketing strategies, up from 75.5% in 2022 
  • TikTok is expected to surpass YouTube (even more) in popularity among influencers in the US 

How To Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy

The precarious influencer landscape can make it difficult to adapt your marketing strategy, but brands should become adaptability pros — attentiveness will give you the upper hand. Understanding the sector's movements and directions will enable you to act fast and intelligently.

So what should brands do? While there are still no fundamental rules to the system, it is maturing, and all parties involved (brand side and influencer side) are increasingly shrewd with their requirements. While influencer marketing was still an elusive game as recently as two years ago, it's now a widespread practice that has taken multiple forms.

Because there are more users in all capacities of Instagram, one must tread with precision, measure the outcomes, and pivot quickly from content that doesn’t convert or help reach business goals. If one-off transactional exchanges might have worked in the past, that's no longer the case. There's too much noise to cut through, too many brands competing for reach, and highly knowledgable and (sometimes skeptical) followers.

So, where does that leave brands? There’s no denying the power of influencer marketing — people look to them for inspiration in all matters of stuff, and many people are influenced by what they see on Instagram. Often, those interactions lead to purchases.

In today's creator economy, it's more complex than a transaction, no matter the type of influencer collaboration you seek. Many factors can make or break the success of your product placements. For that reason, we evaluated the current state of the practice to understand precisely what brands need to do today to build successful social campaigns and why it's vital to measure influencer and creator ROI.

1. Evaluate Your Channels

Before you go and hire some great people to spread the good word about your brand, turn the lens on the state of your channel for a moment of unbiased self-assessment: if people land on your brand's profile page, is it going to be worthy of a follow, or even a further exploration leading to purchase? Be objective and rational.

Things to ask yourself include: are you using Instagram's native filters versus an excellent editing app? Are your creative posts intermittently interrupted with unsavory promotional photo montages announcing sales? Do you have too many product images from your e-comm pages? Are you using the optimum image size on your feed? Is your aesthetic questionable (be honest and then fix it)? Is there visual cohesion? Is there a disconnect between your brand values and the creative you've been publishing (perhaps you need a rebranding)?

This is an important exercise because if your profile (aka the Nouveau homepage) is unappealing, it doesn't matter how many influencers you pay or how much they post about you—you won't see results.

2. Define Realistic Goals

It’s essential to look at influencer benchmarks and determine which metrics are the most relevant to your influencer marketing goals. 

We’ve talked ad nauseam about establishing goals when doing anything relating to social marketing. Still, it’s imperative to understand what is realistic regarding A) your brand and B) who you hire. If your number one priority is to see a spike in sales, then align with someone who has trained their audience to shop what they feature and shown their past content, which has led to conversions and sales.

If you're a new brand, building a foundation in the marketplace by running an awareness campaign would serve you more than attempting to drive sales first and foremost. Establish guidelines based on your goals and tailor the partnerships to the influencer's strength. Being fair to your business and your team will help manage expectations.

Quantifying the results of your influencer partnerships is tricky because so many intangible benefits will eventually lead to those concrete conversions. This is especially true if you're a lesser-known brand, where a direct sales spike is not a sensible collaboration goal. Make sure the KPIs you choose to monitor are harmonious with your expectations.

3. Lay Out Clear Deliverables

There can be disappointment with influencer marketing, both from unprofessionalism on some influencer’s part and from brands making false assumptions. If you pay someone to post on your behalf and seek specificity, outline some content creation guidelines, if applicable, along with every deliverable they must meet. Partnerships are always more successful when all parties involved are aligned and aware of the scope of work.

Remember that you're working with a person and not just making a transactional media buy for a magazine or a billboard. You chose those influencers because you like their voice and aesthetic and want to reach their audience, who they know best. Your product placement will be much more effective when you let them showcase it through their lens — it's what their followers want to see and what will make them convert. Some degree of creative freedom is paramount for the paid content to resonate.

4. Build Relationships

This point is of utmost importance. Finding great people is more challenging than it once was (refer to the above saturation conversation), and neither is that elusive authenticity factor.  

To solidify ties with your influencer community, understand the difference between an influencer and a creator. From there, find influencers already engaged with your brand and tag it organically in their posts — Dash Hudson’s UGC feature is a great tool to see which creators are talking about your brand on social media and reaching the most people. Using fans with influence is a fail-proof tactic that safeguards the authenticity of your endorsements. Those partnerships will ooze sincerity and will be much more effective because of it.

Even so, it might take a few times for a brand or specific item your partners promote to resonate with viewers, which explains why one-off posts don't work. Since users tend to be in discovery mode when they scroll, the promotion may take a few times to have a real impact. If you build a great relationship with those you hire, authenticity will come through in your product placements, making them more effective.

The less transactional, the better for many — and this is part of why micro influencers have a strong appeal. Their engagement tends to be relatively high because their posts genuinely showcase them just living their regular lives and documenting them. On the flip side, audiences are more likely to question the credibility of power influencers because they're more tied to sponsorships to earn their living.

Remember that being thoughtful goes a long way, no matter which direction you choose when tapping influencers. Brands should prioritize fit and creating strong connections. With so many collaborations gone wrong, a little human touch can make all the difference.

5. Utilize Stories and Reels

Because they are more raw, less edited, off the cuff, and often allow for a better display of one's personality, users tend to be engaged on Instagram Stories and Reels. Many brands use these tools as a bonus when placing a product on an influencer's feed since they can get way more personal to advocate for a brand.

Instagram Stories facilitate deeper connections because influencers can discuss why they like something. It allows for a certain closeness and intimacy that followers revel in.

There's value in those legitimate conversations happening on Instagram Stories. They lend additional credibility to your product placements, raising the chances of your brand receiving more engagement.

Should Your Brand Use Social Media Influencers?

If you're still evaluating whether or not you should be using influencer marketing or if you're questioning its value, it's essential to remember that influencer marketing is potent if your approach is on point.

So, how much does social influencer marketing cost? Influencer marketing can still cost less than traditional advertising — although prices vary depending on the size of their following, management, reputation, metrics (do they consistently prove their posts result in conversions?), type of influencer, and more. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, working with a nano or micro influencer with a smaller following and cost but a more engaged audience might be best. If you’re unsure if the investment is worth it, you might want to stipulate certain results after a given period to make sure you increase your ROI. 

Ask yourself how much of your budget you must dedicate to producing an ad and pay media outlets to place it. When a trusted source organically showcases your brand, the chances of being embraced are high. Influencer marketing is also more economical than regular advertising because it provides your business with beautiful, on-brand content for its channels. The collateral that you didn't have to pay to produce yourself.

With influencer marketing's drastic evolution in the past few months, brands are in a spot where they've got to adapt their strategies. The good news is that while there are still no common standards for the practice, it's now been around long enough for all players to understand what makes for successful results. So long as they keep up with its development and even participate in forging its future direction.

Track Influencer Marketing Campaigns With Dash Hudson

Having the proper tools is key to ensuring your brand's influencer marketing strategy performs. Using marketing tools can make the process much easier. Because of this, we evaluated some of the best tools your brand can use to benefit from when it comes to social media influencer marketing. 

Influencer Marketing Measurement

Dash Hudson’s influencer marketing measurement tool allows you to track and measure the ROI of your influencer programs by showing you what influencer content drives the most engagements and growth. You will discover the impact of your influencer marketing campaigns on your brand's earned media value (EMV) by understanding which influencers are performing the best and which need to improve. You can also work with your influencers to determine what promotional content they post performs best and learn what your audience likes to see.

Influencer and Creator ROI

With Dash Hudson’s influencer and creator ROI tools, your brands can source and measure the impact of your fans and influencers. You can now manage influencer and creator programs to make measuring your user-generated content (UGC) simple. Track the performance of your UGC, measure which of your influencers are adding the most value to your brand, and any spots of your influencer marketing strategy that are lacking.


Dash Hudson has the tools to help you stay on top of your influencer's performance with relationships. With this tool, your brand can make strategic decisions and reports to ensure your influencers perform adequately. Use the relationships tool to predict influencer content that best serves your brand's audience. Discover the impact of your influencers on your brands and determine where your influencers can improve. Drive audience growth using our metrics to push your brand to hit your goal.


How many followers do you need to become an influencer?

One of the most exciting things about influencers and influencer marketing is that it doesn’t always matter how many followers you have. Of course, having somewhat of an established following is important, but that doesn’t need to be a significant amount. Frequently, influencers with smaller followings end up with a higher ROI because of the loyal fan base they have acquired. 

Who are the top influencers?

Unsurprisingly, most of the top influencers on Instagram include celebrities and athletes. Here are the top 10: 

How much do you get paid as an influencer?

How much an influencer makes depends entirely on what they charge or what your brand is willing to pay. Some smaller influencers may be willing to post for a smaller amount, while larger influencers may have a flat rate that could increase depending on what your brand requires them to post.

What is an example of influencer marketing?

A great example of influencer marketing is TikTok sensation Charli D’amelio’s collaboration with Dunkin’ Donuts. Charli D’amelio is one of the most followed TikTokers on the platform and has become one of Dunkin’ Donuts' promotional influencers. With her signature drink named ‘The Charli’ and her constant posts drinking and eating Dunkin’ Donuts, she is a fantastic influencer for the brand to collaborate with. 

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