Influencer marketing can benefit businesses with small marketing budgets. Content creators with many followers may help brands they promote to drive sales results. But what do consumers prefer when it comes to brand influencers? Read our survey results to find out. 

Image depicts a brand influencer and marketing results

The use of brand influencers to market a product or service can be considered a powerful tool for smaller companies looking to leverage their social media marketing campaigns. Influencers can help businesses grow their audiences by driving more web traffic, increasing customer engagement, and potentially boosting sales. 

Capterra's first article in this two-part series on live commerce looked at the global trend of livestream shopping events, which are often hosted by social media influencers. Most survey-takers who use live shopping said their preferred event host is an influencer. Does this mean influencers are vital to a brand’s marketing strategy? Demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) from social media actions can be a daunting task. What should marketers consider when evaluating whether it’s worthwhile to invest in influencer marketing to promote their brand? 

Capterra interviewed 1,015 Australians who regularly use social media to find out whether brand influencers really do impact the behaviours of online consumers. The full methodology is at the bottom of this article. 

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing involves a social media influencer partnering with a brand to market products or services online. Influencers often have many followers and a niche interest, generating content that attracts significant engagement. In 2022, the influencer marketing market was worth 16.4 billion dollars and is predicted to grow continually in the coming years.

69% of Australians who know about social media influencers are followers

Celebrities and models have often been used in traditional marketing campaign strategies, but in recent times consumers have also become interested in other types of influential people. As social media has become a self-promotional tool, savvy users are gaining many followers and turning their hobbies into a full-time income. 

In an internet-driven world, it’s unsurprising that most Australians (89%) knew about the term ‘influencers’ (as 73% ‘knew exactly’ and 16% ‘knew the concept but not the name’). Only 11% of survey-takers said they were unfamiliar with the idea of an influencer (7% 'knew the name but not the concept' and 4% were 'unfamiliar' with either). 

Graph showing whether Aussies are familiar with the concept of brand influencers

Over two-thirds (69%) of those in the group who know about influencers also said they follow them. Influencers are convincing marketing tools, as followers can connect with ‘real’ people promoting products they want or need. Collaborating with influencers can help smaller businesses to create a buzz about their brand. It may help to increase consumer trust, particularly if followers see influencers reviewing products and also responding to messages. 

Types of social media influencers

Influencers can be identified among the four following types:

1. Mega-influencers: This type of influencer includes actors, sports heroes, and TV and social media stars with more than one million followers

2. Macro-influencers: Comprises professional bloggers and YouTubers with a fan base of 100,000 to one million followers. They have a category-specific influence, such as lifestyle or business.

3. Micro-influencers: These are everyday consumers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers. They have high brand relevance, driving influence thanks to their personal experiences with a brand.

4. Nano-influencers: Have the smallest number of followers, which is usually between 1,000 to 10,000 people, but, like micro-influencers, tend to have the highest engagement rate. 

Key influencer marketing statistics based on Australian followers

For companies interested in creating an influencer marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how customers behave online and to understand the user experience of social media. Using customer relationship management (CRM) tools can help automate data collection and provide insight into the target audience. 

Looking at what consumers are interested in and why can help identify the ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ of potential followers and customers. Marketers can tailor their social media campaigns, collaborate with influencers to create fresh and original content, and hold livestream shopping events that appeal to customers. 

Capterra discovered the following influencer marketing statistics from the survey data: 

  • Both TikTok and Instagram are the social media platforms most used to follow influencers by Australian respondents (both at 57%, respectively)
  • Survey-takers most frequently rated 'five to seven' and '11 or more' as the number of influencers they follow across all of their social media accounts (both at 30%)
  • The most common types of influencers respondents follow on social media are related to 'fashion' (55%), 'lifestyle' (53%), and 'food and cooking' (51%)
  • Survey-takers who follow influencers most frequently said it's 'to get inspiration for their interests' (52%), 'for helpful advice and tips' (46%) and because 'the content aligns with their interests' (45%)

It is also important to discuss why followers don’t like following social media influencers despite doing so. The most frequently selected reason relates to the influencer portraying a ‘false image’ (48%) as, for example, someone promoting a beauty product may have had surgery or use editing tools and may not disclose this. Other reasons include ‘influencers can sometimes sell products they don’t really use or believe in’ (42%) and ‘the life they show on social media is unrealistic and unattainable’ (41%).

Infographic highlighting why followers dislike following brand influencers 

There are many factors to consider when choosing an influencer for a digital marketing campaign. But it’s vital to collaborate with influencers who genuinely use the company's products, love the brand, and may even fit a niche audience. Gaining the follower's trust and having someone with a good reputation represent the brand should top the list of priorities. 

Did you know? Aussie personal trainer turned global fitness influencer Kayla Itsines started her social media account by posting videos of herself exercising in her backyard. Kayla then went on to make a fitness program and application, which she later sold for AU$400 million to iFit. 

Over half of followers on social media trust influencers who advertise a product or service 

Over half of the survey-takers who follow influencers on social media (54%) said they trust them in advertising a product or service. Regardless of whether a consumer is buying a product through social media or traditional in-store shopping, trust remains a necessary part of the customer experience. Our survey shows that many followers trust influencers as a source of expertise on the product they are selling.

Graph showing whether followers trust in brand influencers or not 

Survey-takers selected ‘authenticity’ (33%) the most when asked what makes an influencer trustworthy. One aspect of this is that the product feels true to the influencer’s voice and personality. Being authentic can also help to create a bond with the audience. ‘Credibility’ (29%) was next for trustworthiness, with the influencer being knowledgeable and reputable in using the product or service. This was followed by ‘reviews’ (20%) and people often leaving positive feedback or comments on the influencer’s profile.

Favourable reviews can leave positive impressions on potential customers. Review management tools can help businesses monitor, manage, and respond to customer reviews. Whilst negative reviews can potentially lead to a loss in sales, they are also an opportunity for companies to learn from their mistakes, improve, and provide customer support. 

Factors that affect influencer credibility, according to survey-takers

Unfortunately, some influencers who use their platforms may be dishonest with their claims about a product or service. Followers can likely tell when an influencer is being disingenuous. We asked survey-takers about the traits that make an influencer seem untrustworthy, and 'quantity over quality' (39%) was most frequently selected. If, for example, an influencer advertises too many brands simultaneously, they may appear money hungry. 

'Fake followers' (25%) was next, which may include the influencer's follower count jumping significantly, with other followers' accounts looking like bots. 'A lack of experience or professionalism' (24%) was also an important factor of untrustworthiness. This could include a content creator reacting poorly to negative comments or criticism. Working with the wrong influencer could damage the brand’s reputation, so it is important to choose wisely. 

64% of followers are more likely to buy from a brand that partners with an influencer 

Capterra’s survey results show that influencers partnering with a brand can really affect consumers’ purchasing decisions. 64% of followers said they are more likely to buy from a brand influencer. A quarter of respondents said an influencer working with a specific brand does not affect their purchase decision, whilst only 11% are less likely to buy from that brand. 

Pie chart showing whether brand influencers affect consumer purchase behaviours

Just over half of the survey-takers who had made a purchase after being influenced by a content creator they follow (52%) said they had been disappointed with a product or service they had been influenced to buy. The most selected reason for this was due to 'quality issues' (41%) as the product was damaged or looked nothing like what was shown online. 

Companies should avoid making any false claims, as misleading advertising is not worth the headache in the long run. This is also applicable to the next most selected answer, ‘price to quality ratio’ (22%), where the consumer has perhaps paid a lot of money, but the quality of the product does not align with how much they purchased it for. Perhaps start by advertising a few of the products that have already received positive feedback and reviews from customers regarding the relationship between price and quality. 

Influencer marketing vs. traditional advertising methods 

Digital marketing, through a social media influencer, can be a cost-effective form of advertising that allows companies to target specific groups of consumers. However, traditional marketing methods that use mediums such as television, newspapers, and billboards are important as they reach audiences who may not use social media, smartphones, or computers often. 

Graph showing how much consumers trust various advertising methods

Capterra asked respondents how much they trusted different advertising methods. 'Recommendations from friends or family' came out top, with a combined 81% of survey-takers saying they ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ trust this type of advertising. Word-of-mouth marketing involves real people sharing their thoughts about a brand. 

This is similar to influencer marketing, but of course, the difference is that people are more likely to trust their family over someone on the internet. However, 'recommendations from influencers' (44%) fared well as being trustworthy by survey respondents, compared to traditional methods such as television adverts (41%) and product placements in TV and films (32%). 

Key takeaways on brand influencers and SMEs

Consumers can use social media for many of their shopping needs, including receiving product recommendations from their favourite influencers and being inspired to try products they may not have considered before. SMEs should consider incorporating an influencer marketing strategy into their marketing plan as a way to reach larger audiences and increase brand awareness.

Our survey highlights that:

  • Most respondents know about the concept of influencers and follow them on social media
  • Survey-takers mostly follow influencers for inspiration for their personal interests and to find helpful advice and tips
  • There is a concern amongst followers that influencers portray a false image or show a lifestyle that is unrealistic and unattainable 
  • Half of social media followers trust influencers advertising a product or service 
  • Most followers said they are more likely to buy from a brand partnered with an influencer 
  • The traditional word-of-mouth method of recommendations from friends or family was selected as the most trustworthy form of advertising by survey-takers 

Before embarking on an influencer marketing strategy, it is important for companies to find the right influencer (or influencers) with followers and a voice that fit the brand and its core values. It is also crucial for marketers to have a clear idea of what the likely ROI might be, based on data about consumer engagement rates and previous successes. 

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Data for Capterra’s Live Commerce and Influencers Survey was collected in April 2023. Results comprise responses from 1,015 Australian participants. The criteria to be selected for this study are as follows:

  • Australian resident
  • Between 18 and 65 years of age
  • Shops online at least every couple of months
  • Uses social media platforms at least a few times per month

Survey respondents were given the following definition of a social media influencer:

‘An influencer is a person who uses a personal blog and/or any other medium (e.g., an account on social media) to disseminate his or her opinions to internet users and can influence them by changing their consumption patterns. Sometimes solicited by companies for commercial or advertising purposes, the influencer acts as an ambassador. Their power of influence depends on their popularity, expertise on a given subject and the scope of their target.’