By Michael J Lambie
The only constant in the world of social media is change, as consumer trends evolve and expectations for user experiences are high. Platforms are required to constantly roll out new features to meet demand. And, because social media has become such an important channel for marketers, staying on top of usage trends is absolutely critical – even more so for brands and agencies who partner with social influencers to reach their audiences.
What are some of the key things to watch?
In the realm of influencer marketing, it’s important to keep an eye on how social media platforms evolve to meet the needs of users and creators. Those who look ahead are more likely to stand the test of time.
Instagram is a great example. Only introduced in 2011, Instagram has quickly risen up to claim third place in terms of total number of active users (700 million), following only Facebook (2 billion) and YouTube (1 billion.) But what’s especially interesting is that when it comes to influencer campaigns, Instagram is currently seeing the fastest growth according to CreatorIQ’s proprietary data.
By analyzing data from a sample size of more than 1,000 influencer campaigns that ran on the CreatorIQ platform since 2014, we found that Instagram’s average number of posts per campaign is rising the fastest, followed by Twitter and Facebook.
What’s making Instagram stand out in the influencer marketing arena? Perhaps it’s the company’s willingness to adapt.
When Snapchat came on the scene in 2014, users embraced the platform’s daily Stories and private messaging features that allow content to “disappear” after it’s viewed. And creators quickly began leveraging the platform as a launching pad for influencer marketing campaigns. But according to an October 2017 article in Buzzfeed, Snapchat use among top influencers has dropped by 34 percent since August 2016. Not coincidentally, that’s when Instagram launched Instagram Stories and its own direct message feature, in an effort to meld its already popular photo sharing and editing tools with some of the ephemeral innovations pioneered by Snapchat. This aligns with CreatorIQ’s proprietary data – we also found that while Snapchat enjoyed a bump in early 2016, it hasn’t sustained influencer campaign growth in 2017.
Instagram’s evolution has shown that its users are less likely to stray to Snapchat if they can get the best of both worlds in a single platform. TechCrunch reported on the one-year anniversary of Instagram Stories in August, noting that “Snapchat’s monthly active user growth rate has plummeted from 17.2 percent per quarter to just 5 percent.” The story also reports that “Instagram Stories now has 250 million daily users compared to Snapchat’s 166 million,” and that “Instagram Direct has grown to 375 million monthly users.”
It’s no surprise that Instagram is leading the social media pack when it comes to influencer marketing growth – it not only has laid the foundation for a large user base, but also has a strong history of valuing the content that creators contribute to the ecosystem and have nurtured these relationships. And remember Vine? They made it hard to do campaigns and for influencers to monetize. Many influencers find it easiest to work with Instagram because it is probably the most influencer-friendly platform, especially now with Instagram Insights API.
The lesson in all of this is that keeping track of usage trends is an important component of influencer marketing. Platforms need to quickly adapt and offer features that creators are eager to take advantage of to reach their audiences.