Influencer marketing is predicted  to hit $10 billion next year, up from $2 billion in 2017. The industry is iterating quickly with the influx of investment, and tactics and strategies used by e-commerce brands are being depreciated quickly as the industry matures.

We sought to understand the influencer tactics and strategies brands dropped in 2020 based on their learning in 2018-2019.

We saw two major trends:

  1. Brands are dropping mega influencers for micro and nano influencers
  2. Brands are dropping one-off engagements for long term brand partnerships

The data indicates that despite an increased focus on micro and nano influencers, brands aren’t recruiting more participants and scaling their programs to hit the social reach they need to contribute a meaningful percentage of overall revenue. Only 13.8% (5/36) of brands and marketers that responded to our survey are running programs above 75 participants.

Pie chart how many influencers in your average campaign 63.9% 1-25 participants 22.2% 25-75 participants 8.3% 250+ participants

Learn how e-commerce brands are converting their most engaged customers into brand ambassadors and scaling their programs to thousands of participants and generating tens of thousands of dollars in measurable referral revenue

Brands Are Dropping One Off Influencer Engagements

Chris Gonzalez @

Chris Gonzales

Working with influencer on one off campaigns, we will be taking a more long term ambassador approach instead of one off campaigns with one influencer, one time.

Nolan Heyer @

Nolan Heyer

Focusing on the individual more than the # of followers. The influencer can have a small social following, but their offline presence always has to be taken into consideration.

Learn how Kaged Muscle scaled their ambassador program to 400 participants generating thousands/month in measurable referral sales.

Morgan Kling @

Morgan Kling

In 2018 I spent a lot of time booking individual posts from influencers. In 2019, I have decided that moving forward I will only be booking influencers on a long term contractual basis. I’ve decided to do this because the shelf life of a single influencer post is too short to justify what most influencers charge. When we contract influencers, it opens more ways you can leverage assets. Everything from having content rights, organic product placements (because influencers actually become a user of your product), and more impressions to the same audience over time. — Another thing that I am doing differently in 2018 is using a “Brand Brief” for every single deal I do. This has been incredibly helpful in the past for ensuring that all influencer posts communicate a consistent message that is created by the brand. Rather than having 500 different influencers saying 500 different things, I’ve found that it’s more effective to limit the main talking points to 5-10 topics.

Gabe Kensworth @

Gabe Kensworth

One time paid promos. In 2018, we would buy full priced promos expecting conversions and were dissatisfied at the results. This is partially due to changes in Instagrams algorithm recognizing off-brand ads, but we will be taking steps to test influencers on small scales for long term promos or establishing long term partnerships both on-brand and commission based on top of retainers. We will also be growing our own accounts to lower advertising costs.

Nupur Singh  @

Nupur Singh

We are employing longer campaigns than just going one off partnerships which have low value in the long run. We try and convert influencers into long term champions of the brand.

Megha Singh @

Megha Singh

No more short-term campaigns. 2018  was a lot more one-time post and ghost. In 2019, we can expect more brands wanting long-term partnerships with high performing influencers. This type of long-term campaign drives more sales because a particular set of followers see one brand being mentioned several times by an influencer. It’s a lot like retargeting.

Brands Are Dropping Larger Influencers

Erik Huberman @

Erik Huberman

Micro-influencers.  With the increase in FTC regulation, micro-influencers and anything used for direct response versus building the brand doesn’t work well anymore.  The key is to focus on more brand alignment and endorsement deals to build trust.

Daniel Doan @

Daniel Doan

Consumer distrust of influencers are at an all-time high. That being said, micro-influencer campaigns are still as strong as ever. In 2019, instead of going after mega-influencers, I predict we’ll see a shift towards brands working with influencers who have a much smaller but more loyal tribe.

Dominic Damico @

Dominick Damico

We are moving closer and closer to true organic influence, that is, leveraging current customers and fans social media networks to drive new customer acquisition. The customer is the true micro-influencer, and we are seeing more technologies focusing on leveraging them and understanding how they influence their peers to take action for a specific brand.

Megha Singh @

Megha Singh

Hyper local brands don’t want to work with top influencers with global following. In 2018, even the hyper-local brands wanted to mostly work with top influencers who were visiting their cities. In 2019 –  They are now more open to using nano-influencers in 5k range to promote their businesses. Smaller influencers have larger local and engaged following and thus do better at driving traffic to local businesses.

Daniel Lannon @

Daniel Lannon

We’re going to focus on micro and mid range influencers with strategic celebrity tie ins. We’ll be looking towards video and short form content in stories rather than photos and sizable influencers.

Brands Are Taking Control From Influencers

Dennis S. Yu @

Dennis Yu

Run according to the terms set forth by influencers. It’s up to the client to be clear on what they expect from the influencer, even though many influencers claim they have a particular process of how many posts they will make and how they know how to relate to their audience. The shift in 2019 is that brands are getting smarter. They are understanding that influencers are like micro-publishers each property with an audience, angle, and cost to reach. So many influencers are left behind being unable to measure results still selling posts and vanity metrics, instead of knowing how to tie to sales.

Ben Lee @

Ben Lee

Brands are approaching influencer marketing a lot more cautiously in 2019. As influencers become more commoditized and brands see less ROI, there needs to be better strategy between the creators and brands. The pay to post model doesn’t work anymore.

Susana Yee @

Susana Yee

I would make sure the influencer is well versed in the niche of my client’s brand before approaching them with potential partnerships in 2019.  Working with influencers that have very little knowledge of a brand’s particular niche (especially if a brand is in a technical, medical space or scientific space) creates additional work and time usage for content creation approval and edits for the Brand’s team internally which slows down the campaigns and costs the company more money in the long run.

Brands Are Dropping Fake Influencers

Megha Singh @

Megha Singh

In 2018, we saw a lot of influencers pretending to have influence by showing inflated likes and comments through pods and it was harder to differentiate between real and fake influencers. In 2019, with tools like HypeAuditor it couldn’t be easier to tell who is a real influencer and who is engaging in comment exchange with other influencers. Pod comments don’t drive sales and brands would rather work with smaller real influencer.

Sania Khiljee @

Sania Khilijee

I am using almost the same tactics I used in 2018, but in 2019, the main difference is that I’m being a lot more selective with who I choose to work with. Working with influencers can be a hit or a miss, and there’s a LOT of fake influencers out there with paid followers, engagement groups, and powerlikes. I try to do as much research as possible on the health of their account and how authentic it is before reaching out to collaborate.

Brands Are Dropping Free Products For influencers

Susana Yee @

Susana Yee

Free gifts to all influencers that attend events unless very targeted invites.

Other Tactics Brands Dropped In 2020

Saru Saadeh @

Saru Sadeeh

In 2018, we focused on utilizing direct posts on influencer’s Instagram accounts, however with Instagram moving further away from a chronological feed, these paid posts began to receive significantly less reach due to the algorithm. In 2019, we shifted our focus toward Instagram stories. With swipe up capabilities, we’re driving more site traffic, allowing e-commerce brands to collect more data for retargeting and sequences.

Jeremiah S Boehner @

Jeremiah S Boehner

The tactics change greatly depending on the brand and their goals. But I’m not doing one off campaigns anymore that aren’t part of larger marketing strategy. Having influencers post your products on their accounts is great, but a lot of value and ROI is lost if you don’t have an integrated strategy to drive people into their sales funnel. You can’t have 100’s of Influencers share something on Instagram if your brands instagram isn’t on point. I’m also working to with clients to make sure they go beyond Instagram. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, etc. Are still valuable places to connect with influencers and get your brand in front of their audiences.

Joel Padron @

Joel Padron

In 2018, we focused on utilizing direct posts on influencer’s Instagram accounts, however with Instagram moving further away from a chronological feed, these paid posts began to receive significantly less reach due to the algorithm. In 2019, we shifted our focus toward Instagram stories. With swipe up capabilities, we’re driving more site traffic, allowing e-commerce brands to collect more data for retargeting and sequences.

Taylor Schear @

Taylor Schear

Trends of solely digital campaigns with influencers are slowly dying. Affiliate marketing programs and event based influencer campaigns will dominate the 2019 scene versus the previous tactic of pay per post.

Yen Japney @

Yen Japney

2018 we work with lots of different types of Infleuncer with no code, 2019 we bring the discount code in to better see the performance base and base collab time on that. Do we continue to work with them? Are they bringing us money?

Jason Wong @

Jason Wong

Paid Placement.

Lawrence Aponte @

Lawrence Aponte

Influencer Email Blasts – Least effective tactic used last year.

Omar Sayyed @

Omar Sayyed

Live influencer events.

Ashley McCloud @

Ashley McCloud

Use large agency/consultants to find the influencers.