As brands seek ways to establish more personalized connections with consumers, they’re engaging social media influencers more heavily than in previous years, according to a recent Nielsen assessment. The pandemic has accelerated the trend, given the elevated need for connection amid the isolation wrought by lockdowns.
Pandemic aside, the focus on influencers addresses both fragmenting media consumption and the significant engagement that influencers boast across channels like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
Nielsen’s tallies show just how huge those engagement tallies are.
On Instagram, for example, data from Nielsen InfluenceScope shows that the top 10 influencers by engagement rate have a combined total of 110 million global followers. The top 10 total interactions with those influencers commanded an engagement rate of 28%. Engagement rate is defined by Nielsen InfluenceScope as the total interactions divided by followers and multiplied by 100.
That said, Nielsen also finds that brands struggle with finding influencers that are the right fit for their brands’ personality and purpose. Data from InfluenceScope finds that 86% of brands find that to be a challenge.
But the challenge isn’t insurmountable. Nielsen points to the case of California-based e.l.f cosmetics, which recently began amplifying its own organic efforts with campaigns on TiKTok as a means to engage Gen Z consumers.
Understanding the influence of music on Gen Z, the brand developed its own song, “Eye, Lips, Face,” which it used as the foundation for a TikTok campaign that garnered a staggering 1 billion views in just six days, according to Nielsen InfluenceScope.
The song was the first piece of branded content to hit No. 1 on TikTok’s organic trends list and continues to engage, with more than 6 billion views to date and more than 5 million user-generated videos created as part of the campaign’s associated challenge.
Influencer James Charles (30+ million followers) was among the top influencers to promote the brand, and his posts drove a 12.88% engagement rate, which is almost 6x higher than the average engagement rate of influencers with a similar fan base.
As Nielsen notes, influencer marketing is not unique to TikTok. But across social media, TikTok does boast the highest engagement rate—38%, based on an analysis of the top 10 most engaging profiles active in the last three months as of Sept. 21. Based on the same criteria, YouTube had an engagement rate of 29% and Instagram (as noted above) 28%.
The bottom line: The impact of influence is growing.
According to Nielsen Scarborough, nearly one-in-five Americans (19.3%) agree or somewhat agree that a celebrity endorsement may influence a product purchase. But influence doesn’t have to come from celebrities. In fact, more than two in five Americans (41.6%) seek the advice of others for purchase decisions, and 70% read online reviews before making a purchase.
“The opportunity for brands is to establish themselves as trusted sources for consumers—so they, too, can gain the ability to influence purchases,” Nielsen concludes. “Nielsen Scarborough data shows that 83% of Americans say that they stick with brands they like, but just 22.6% like to connect with brands on social media networking sites. Influencer marketing can help brands begin to bridge that 60% gap—and start to measure the results.”