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2019 State of Influencer Marketing Report: Instagram Trends

2019 was a big year for influencer marketing! Discover the biggest trends moving the industry, and prepare your 2020 strategy.

Lena Young
January 14, 2020

2019 was a major year for influencer marketing. This effective marketing channel is now used by 96% of all brands and continues to see impressive growth rates. Influencer campaigns are run across all the major social networks from Facebook to industry new-comer TikTok, but Instagram is still the top choice amongst brands and influencers.

Given its popularity, we believe Instagram provides the most comprehensive overview of industry trends. So, in keeping with our annual tradition, we analyzed global #ad posts on Instagram, to identify trends and growth in the Influencer space. 

Our study identified a 48% increase in global Instagram influencer activity in 2019. Last year, our study identified a 38% increase in influencer activity in 2018, meaning not only is the industry steadily increasing, but 2019’s increase was 9% more than the growth of 2018

This growth is extremely important, as Instagram is in the process of implementing new feature updates and changes. The platform announced that they are testing removing likes, currently one of the leading (though not most effective) metrics for measuring an influencer campaign. And the brand is putting a greater emphasis on Instagram TV as the demand for video content grows. As Instagram continues to be the hub for influencer activity,, it should be interesting to watch how the platform adjusts to further support influencers. 

With that being said, 2019 was a great year for influencer marketing. From 48% YoY growth to industry trends, here are some highlights from our 2019 State of Influencer Marketing Report. 

Key Finding: Instagram Influencer Activity Grew 48% in 2019

Influencer Marketing Industry Growth 2019

We analyzed all sponsored posts on Instagram in 2019. We identify sponsored posts as those that used a #ad, implying a collaboration between a brand and an influencer. Our survey revealed over 3,014,687 sponsored posts worldwide in 2019, up 48% in from 2018 with 2,113,307 sponsored posts. 

There are many factors that attribute to the growth of the influencer industry. Two important factors are budget and audience quality. We recently reported on influencer rates, which range depending on influencer type. Still, influencer prices prove to be more affordable than outsourcing content to a professional studio. And, with influencers, brands kill two birds with one stone. For affordable rates, they get professional-level content that can be repurposed, and the ability to engage with a highly focused audience due to influencers devoted followers. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

Key Finding: Micro-Influencers Continue to Dominate

Which Influencers Post Sponsored Content

We reviewed the number of likes each #ad post received in 2019 to identify the type of influencer that was engaged in the most brand partnerships. We discovered that 89% received 1K likes or less, indicating the content originated from a micro-influencers. In 2018 micro-influencers made up 84% of all influencer activity. 

Micro-Influencer typically has 5-30K followers and a true reach of 500-5K. Micro-influencers are the definition of quality over quantity. Typically micro-influencer focuses on a very specific topic like veganism or has followers that align with their values such as LGBTQ+ rights, making it easier for brands to connect with audiences over a specific topic. While Celebrity influencers are household names, their following can be so large that a campaign message can be lost. Micro-influencers are ideal collaborators as they connect brands with an already engaged audience who subscribe to their values and take them seriously as a thought leader.  

Key Finding: South Korea Enters the Influencer Space 

Influencer Industry Top Countries

Much of the growth of influencer activity in 2019 is in part due to new regions entering the market. 42% of all influencer activity was from US influencers, down 6% from 2018. But, what’s really surprising is the emergence of new markets. The UK is the second market for influencer activity, contributing 11%. And, tied with the UK is South Korea, a new player in the space, also making up 11% of all influencer activity. South Korea was not even present in the top 10 countries in 2018. From 2018 to 2019 influencer marketing activity in South Korea grew by a whopping 620%! This points to a larger trend of emerging markets adopting this marketing strategy. The UAE is also a new player in the industry, growing influencer activity 430% from 2018 to 2019.  

Check out the full report to learn how influencer marketing developed in 2019

Download our completed 2019 State of Influencer Marketing report to get a comprehensive overview of the direction of influencer marketing. Data including demographics, Instagram story trends, top influencer industries, and industry predictions. 

This study was brought by Klear Research. Klear Research is committed to providing quality, data-driven research. Our data science team is constantly producing industry-leading insights that are available and beneficial to all.