Social Media Media Planning and Buying Media

Influencers are hot property for agencies – here’s what they want from brands


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

April 18, 2023 | 8 min read

Advertising groups have been buying up some of the top agencies in the influencer marketing space. Here are the trends influencing the influencers.

Instagram influencing

Instagram remains the top influencing platform, for now

Emplifi’s customer engagement platform’s ‘The 2023 State of Influencer Marketing Report’ dug into the latest trends shaping the industry, by quizzing 150 influencers in the Pixlee TurnTo Creator Network.

It is clear that influencers will serve a growing role in advertising strategies in the coming year if the M&A rush around influencer marketing agencies is anything to go by, with the most recent of the flurry coming from WPP.

Here’s what the influencers are saying.

Instagram is still on top

Instagram remains the leading platform for influencer marketing content. In second place, TikTok is gaining momentum but with talks of bans across many nations, it would be unwise for any creators to solely rely on any single platform.

According to an Emplifi survey of 165 creators, 93% of influencers tend to post content on multiple platforms. Most say they are not cross-posting the same content. Therefore, to maintain a presence across multiple platforms, the workload greatly increases, as does the need for an income from the profession.

What platforms are the influencers using?

  • 90% are active on Instagram

  • 66% on TikTok

  • 34% on Facebook

  • 4% on both Twitter and Pinterest

The Meta-owned social app shows no signs of slowing down. The controversy around TikTok in the US may likely aid it in the coming years too.

Brands are keen to reach audiences in these apps and may be more comfortable out-sourcing their content needs to creators than trying to walk the walk themselves, from official accounts at least.

How influencers are paid

Influencer campaigns can range from $10-$10,000 per post on Instagram and $25-$2,500 on TikTok. Brands need a clear outline of what counts as success in that space but whether it is in paid ad products or influencing, to work out what actually represents value.

However, there are some basic truths. TikTok has always provided a cheaper media opportunity for brands than its rival. Twitter is also notably less expensive than it has been in previous years, likely due to deflation in demand.

As to how brands pay influencers, the research revealed that influencers prefer to be paid in cash, but in other cases are given gift cards, free products, discounts, and finally extra reach on exposure.

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How much are influencers paid?

The size of the influencers’ following and the quality of their content shapes the market rates they can barter, and indirectly, the volume of social posts they have to create.

Those with less than 10,000 followers posted 67% more sponsored content than those with around and more than 1m Instagram followers. But although top influencers make less sponsored content over a, it’s a larger proportion of what they do produce.

The report suggests: “Successful influencers find a balance between posting consistently without falling trap to spamming their audiences with irrelevant content. As a result, it’s essential for an influencer to carefully balance sponsored content with their own organic content to maintain credibility with their audiences. Brands should be open to the posting strategies suggested by influencers of various sizes to drive optimal impressions and engagement of campaign-related posts.”

Favored formats

TikTok and Instagram Reels are popular destinations for short-form video. The tech giants have been keen to prioritize user-generated content (UGC) production because short-form video is a format many advertisers see good results with - especially after years of six-second ads on YouTube.

Brands and celebrities have increased their Reels usage by 241% in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022 but overall usage has remained static (albeit high).

Larger influencers tend to lean heavily into video on Instagram, sharing 27% more video content on average than smaller influencers. The report claims they likely have the support to do so from a tech, staffing and financial POV. Much of this will be sponsored.

A mere 7% of the content posted by influencers on Instagram is identified as sponsored content. This activity peaks during the festive period. The report identified a slight slump in spend this year, blaming the global economic downturn. Yet as Insider Intelligence reports it will be a fairly recession-proof format.

Top influencer interests

Weighed by influencers operating in the category, these are the most popular topics of interest or specialization on Instagram.

  • Arts and music

  • Beauty

  • Fashion accessories

  • Writing

  • Food

  • Travel

  • Online

  • Cosmetics

  • Family

  • Motherhood

Larger accounts tended to have an average of three interests, likely to keep content fresh and maximize sponsorship opportunities.

What influencers consider when choosing brand partners

In an ideal world, influencers ally with brands they share values with. It's much easier to sell-in a product when said influencer actually endorses it. Here are the main factors in them choosing a brand to work with, in descending order.

  • Personal interest in the brand

  • Shared values

  • Budget/payment

  • Community fit

  • Creative freedom

According to a report by Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $21.1bn in 2023.

The agencies best placed to access the talent, and aware of the issues plaguing the space like fake followers, hacked engagement, a lack of ad disclosure, and more, will be best positioned to create the most effective influencer marketing.

Sign up to my Weekly Media Agency briefing here for a regular steer through the biggest questions facing the industry.

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