What influencers think about brands: 2020 survey results 

The market for influencers in Lithuania is growing every year. In one year, from November 2019 to November 2020, the influencer market in Lithuania has changed significantly: 5 content creators have joined mega influencers by surpassing the 100,000 followers mark, and 85 influencers have gathered audiences of more than 25,000 followers and have become macro influencers. The number of micro-influencers has stayed similar at around 1,500, and we continue to count the number of nano-influencers in tens of thousands.

How did we come up with the idea of surveying Lithuanian influencers?

Usually, we like to discuss what we think of influencers, but this time we decided to ask them what they think of us, i.e., brands and partnerships with them. surveyed 95 Lithuanian influencers from all major categories: micro, macro, and mega. 80% of the survey participants were women, which perfectly reflects the female-dominated market of influencers.

The aim of this survey is to find out influencers’ views on working with brands and to help advertisers better understand the needs and views of influencers.

From the influencers’ reactions, we understood that it is important for them to be heard and listened to. So we’re delighted to have the opportunity to give voice to their thoughts.

The influencers and their followers

We asked influencers what inspired them to create content on social media.

The most popular answer was a pleasant surprise, with the majority of influencers saying they were most inspired by the need for community and socializing. For 18%, it’s an opportunity for self-fulfillment. The third reason is pragmatic, the opportunity to turn this activity into a main source of income. A further 16% were inspired by the opportunity to shape opinion and influence.

We follow influencers for different reasons. We asked them to name three reasons why they think their audience follows them.

90% of influencers reported that they believe their audience follows them because they are themselves and openly share their authentic personal experiences. The next two most popular choices were: valuable information and relevant content that followers could identify with. Some creators attract their audience with funny, relaxing content. The lowest number of influencers indicated that they are followed because they follow trends and surprise followers with their content. We agree with this because, unfortunately, the content of most Lithuanian influencers is not very creative.

The influencers and indicators

Influencers’ performance indicators are tracked not only by brands but also by the influencers themselves. Which indicators seem to be most important to them? 

It’s good to see that most influencers realize that follower number is not the key indicator. Only 7% chose it. Meanwhile, as many as 60% consider follower engagement the most important indicator. A fifth chose reach, and 13%—personal messages from followers.

From a brand perspective, the most important indicator depends on the objective. For example, if the company’s goal is to increase awareness, the reach of the target audience plays a key role. If it’s sales, referrals to the brand’s website or the use of a discount code will be the key.

The influencers and advertising

We also asked influencers some spicy questions—have they ever promoted something they haven’t tried?

The vast majority of respondents said they had never advertised a product they had not tried, but 24% admitted that they had done so a few times. Only 2% of respondents said they had advertised untested products many times.

It is important to note that if an influencer shares a positive opinion about the advertised product or service without having tried it, this may be considered misleading advertising.

While it may seem to consumers that influencers promote a lot of brands, there is more demand than supply. 

When asked how often they refuse advertising offers, almost 70% of respondents said often. However, no influencers answered that they never refuse advertising requests.

We asked influencers to name the main reasons why they refuse advertising requests.

Most influencers turn down an offer from a brand whose values don’t match theirs. Also, when they don’t like a product or service. Indeed, we can celebrate these responses, as advertising works best when it is sincere and does not contradict the influencer’s stated values—it builds and promotes the followers’ trust.

The third most popular reason is insufficient compensation. This is a topic we discuss particularly often in the team—we are in favor of negotiation, but we are also in favor of a fair reward that reflects results.

31% of respondents said they turn down barter offers, while 27% of influencers surveyed said they turn down offers to partner with a competing brand.

To the question about which advertising is most effective on their channel, influencers responded almost unanimously.

As many as 82% said that long-term ambassadorship is the most effective form of advertising.

Brand ambassadorship is one of the hottest topics in influencer marketing. One well-known influencer marketing agency, Fohr from New York, announced in 2020 that it is now a brand ambassador agency. Our agency has also successfully developed and implemented brand ambassador programs for well-known brands, examples of which can be found in more detail here.

How are influencers different from ambassadors? Ambassadorship is a long-term partnership between a brand and an influencer based on mutual trust, lasting a year or more. Typically, the ambassador is paid an annual or monthly fee and creates paid as well as organic content.

When developing an influencer marketing strategy, brands should consider whether they can turn an existing relationship with influencers into a long-term strategic partnership, establishing influencers as an integral part of their brand identity.

We asked influencers to rank the most common mistakes they think brands make when working with influencers.

Most influencers pointed out that the main mistake brands make is when they approach an influencer without getting to know the influencer’s personality, interests, or values. The second most common mistake is having too strict communication guidelines that do not give the influencer the freedom to create. The third place is shared by two mistakes: the requirement to get the approval for all the content before publishing and the brand’s ignorance of what it wants. The last mistake worthy of attention is the lack of feedback at the end of the collaboration or even during the campaign.

The influencers and fees

Influencer fees go up every year, sometimes several times. We asked influencers whether they intended to increase their fees in 2021.

Only 6% of influencers intend to increase their fees significantly. The others remain moderate—they will increase fees by up to 20% or keep them the same.

We note that influencer pricing is still an elusive mystery for most people who want to try this advertising tool, so we have an article on the subject, which can be found here.

All respondents mentioned at least a few cases where they applied discounts to their rates.

As many as 91% said they provide discounts for long-term partnerships and 56% — for large content purchases.

51% apply discounts to charity or social campaigns. In our experience, influencers are willing to contribute to social campaigns for free, but it is important to choose the right people and to clearly present the issue and the purpose.

Many influencers tend to give discounts when they like a brand, which encourages brands to seek out true fans of the brand even more.

The influencers and advertising disclosure

We often feel like the advertising police in our market as we actively educate influencers and brands on how to tag advertising correctly. So we were curious to know how often brands or agencies ask influencers to disclose advertising according to the State Consumer Rights Protection Service guidelines.

The split between “always” and “often” was almost even, which is encouraging. However, 11% of influencers indicated that they are only asked to disclose advertising sometimes.

In practice, we still notice a very high number of violations and improper marking of advertisements, so it is worth emphasizing that the responsibility for proper marking of advertisements lies with both the client and the influencer and that the fine for the brand is up to 3% of the annual income.

Influencers themselves have a positive attitude toward the disclosure of advertising. 75% disclose advertising and consider it important and necessary. On the other hand, 17% disclose advertising because it is mandatory but consider it unnecessary.

The influencers and Covid-19

In response to today’s topical issues, we asked influencers how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their work.

53% of respondents had a significant or slightly positive impact, 29% had a significant or slightly negative impact, and 18% had no impact. Just like brands, the influencers were affected by the coronavirus in very different ways depending on their field of activity.

What do influencers wish for brands?

At the end of the survey, we asked influencers to wish the brands something for 2021. They had many meaningful wishes, but the keywords were similar—values, sincerity, individuality, freedom, responsibility, and trust. And we wish brands to remember these messages from influencers as they lead to stronger, more sustainable, and successful partnerships.

The results of the influencers’ survey were presented at the Full Digital 2020 digital communication and marketing conference.

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