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Social Commerce Creator Economy Influencer Strategy

Survey reveals top 5 trends defining influencer marketing in 2023



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March 1, 2023 | 6 min read

By Conor Begley, chief strategy officer, CreatorIQ

By Conor Begley, chief strategy officer, CreatorIQ

The following article references data collected from CreatorIQ’s 2023 Influencer Marketing Trends Report. It is based on survey data from more than 236 creators and 163 brands and agencies conducted between Aug 15 and Sept. 25, 2022, primarily in the US.

The influencer marketing industry has grown to an estimated size of $14.6bn globally. But for all its maturity, it remains an ever-evolving space.

Leading both the industry growth and constant change is the always dynamic creator economy, a complex ecosystem of brands, agencies, creators, and consumers redefining the very nature of marketing and advertising in today’s social media age.

CreatorIQ recently surveyed these pillars of the creator ecosystem to develop a comprehensive overview of the space today and where it’s going, focusing on the trends that have emerged over the past year.

Among the many insights we discovered, the following trends emerged as having the most impact on brands, agencies, and creators alike in the year ahead.

1. Investment in creator marketing is increasing

Despite a looming economic downturn on the horizon and still-raw wounds coming out of the pandemic, brands have increased their influencer marketing budgets to double down on what’s clearly working best. Over two-thirds (67%) of the brands surveyed say they spent more on influencer marketing between September 2021 to August 2022 than they did during the previous year.

This has several implications. First, influencer marketing teams are growing, with 61% of brands reporting a greater number of dedicated influencer marketing roles at their companies. In terms of actual dollars, 52% report an annual influencer marketing expenditure of over $200,000.

Second, brands are investing more in measuring the impact of their influencer marketing efforts. Among brands’ biggest creator marketing priorities, measurement and reporting is first (64%). As important as this is, many brands find it challenging to accurately benchmark results to industry standards.

Finally, paying creators is becoming a more standard practice, with 43% of brands paying a greater number of their creator partners than they did the year prior, and 42% paying more than half of the partners they work with. In fact, 48% of brands say the majority of their influencer marketing budget goes toward paying creators.

But despite the increase in budgets and growing teams, brands still feel limited, citing both inadequate budget (41%) and understaffed personnel (37%) as their biggest roadblocks.

Taken together, these developments drive the next notable trend in the creator marketing space.

Top 5 takeaways from CreatorIQ's annual Influencer Marketing Trends Report

2. Success leads to scale

Creator-led marketing works and is delivering proven results. So brands are now focused on finding ways to efficiently scale their programs further in the year ahead. That’s actually a challenge that requires attention. While retaining creator relationships was the focus last year, this year it's finding ways to optimize those relationships to scale up results.

  • 27% said scaling IM programs as their top or second priority
  • 22% of brands surveyed said scaling influencer programs was the most challenging aspect of influencer marketing

Meeting this challenge requires developing the knowledge, processes, and budgets needed to do that would enable them to scale. For instance, 88% of brands surveyed use up to three different influencer marketing software platforms to manage their efforts, and 47% increased their spending on influencer marketing software tools.

3. Instagram drives ROI

Despite a year that saw TikTok emerge as a serious threat to nearly every form of media (not just social), Instagram still delivered in terms of ROI.

Despite a decline in the impact of both static posts and Instagram Stories, two-thirds (66%) of brands named Instagram as the platform that has delivered the best ROI, compared to 26% of brands that selected TikTok.

What’s more, brands were most likely to consider Instagram an overall primary platform, with TikTok a powerful secondary platform. Driving these results for Instagram were Reels, which 55% of brands named as the most effective medium on the platform, Static Posts (20%), Stories (16%) and Collab Posts (8%).

Similar results hold true for agencies evaluating the different platforms, with 71% naming Instagram as delivering the best ROI, while 50% selected TikTok as a secondary platform.

4. But TikTok dominates video

In 2023, the creator economy will run on video. Survey respondents say video is not just a burgeoning trend, but rather a permanent feature of the creator economy. In fact, 74% of creators posted more video content on Instagram than they did during the previous year.

But TikTok currently dominates the format over all other social platforms in terms of time spent watching videos, by a factor of 11. That’s why both creators and brands are highly invested in the platform. TikTok today serves as the primary search engine for Gen Z, informing purchasing decisions through popular initiatives like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.

5. Expanding creator tiers

Not all creators are alike. Some have super-sized follower counts in the millions, and others under 10,000. But all are effective partners when used the right way. Brands have realized this more, and over the past year have expanded their creator partnerships to multiple creator tiers.

While 44% of brands have maintained about the same percentage of campaigns with creators boasting over a million followers, 58% either slightly or significantly increased the number of campaigns conducted with creators boasting between 1-10,000 or 10,000 - 100,000 followers.

Brands will continue to tap nano- and micro-influencers for niche and regional campaigns, due to these smaller-scale creators’ higher engagement rates. Look for marketers to incorporate nano- and micro-influencers into more concrete influencer marketing strategies that maximize budgets.

These trends and more illustrate not only how creator-led marketing has revolutionized the marketing industry, but how fast this revolution is changing. Marketers hoping to stay ahead of the curve need every advantage at their disposal to stay abreast of this shifting landscape and adapt accordingly.

For more information about these results, and gain access to additional trends and data, download the complete 2023 Influencer Marketing Trends Report free here.

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