Does Influencer Marketing Really Pay Off? 

With the rise of social media as an effective marketing tool, influencer marketing has come into the spotlight, and brands are increasingly leveraging it for various marketing purposes. In 2022, the influencer marketing sector achieved the $16.4 billion mark. As per research conducted by Mediakix, 80% of marketers see influencer marketing as an effective strategy. 

Over 75% of brands have allocated a specific budget for influencer marketing. For its #ThisOnesFor campaign, Coca-Cola collaborated with different travel and fashion influencers, while Dior partnered with different influencers under its award-winning 67 Shades campaign to advertise its Forever Foundation product range. When big brands engage themselves in influencer marketing, the question arises – Does putting money into influencer marketing really pay off? 

To answer this question, Harvard Business Review collaborated with a global influencer marketing company to examine around 5800 posts related to influencer marketing on the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo. The reason for choosing the Chinese market is that it is one of the most sophisticated influencer marketing places globally, but the conclusions of this evaluation would be applicable to other international markets. 

This assessment’s dataset included posts created by 2,412 influencers for 861 different brands across 29 product categories. The cost of these posts ranges from $200 to $100,000 per post. As per the analysis, by increasing 1% the influencer marketing budget, a brand can increase 0.46% in engagement. The data indicates that the influencer marketing strategy is actually yielding a positive ROI. 

Below we have mentioned the effects of different influencer marketing variables.  

Number of Followers 

One thing that impacts the partnership is the number of followers an influencer has. An influencer with a massive following not only has a better reach but is also considered more credible and popular. Thus, brands can reach higher engagement rates by collaborating with a popular influencer while spending the same budget on partnering with a less-popular influencer. As per the data, popular influencers help generate a 9.2% greater ROI than average influencers. 

Posting Frequency 

The frequency of posts is another variable that impacts engagement.  An influencer who posts infrequently is not regarded as a reliable source of information. Also, they don’t have an adequate presence on users’ feeds to develop trust and closeness. However, too frequent posting can create a mess in users’ feeds, resulting in fatigue. It may make users uninterested in the influencer’s post. Brands that generated a higher ROI through influencer marketing collaborated with influencers who had a balanced posting schedule. 

Follower Brand Fit 

Follower-brand fit refers to the alignment between the brand’s domain and the interests of the influencer’s following. For instance, follower brand fit would be higher if a healthcare brand collaborated with an influencer whose followers are interested in fitness and health. When an influencer’s following is highly interested in the subjects related to the brand’s domain, the influencer’s posts become more suitable to followers, who find posts more personally relevant. As per the data, follower brand fit gets to higher levels when 9% of followers of an influencer have interests matching the brand’s niche. 

Influencer Originality

The originality of the influencer is another factor that impacts influencer marketing campaigns. Some influencers share other people’s content, while others largely post their own content. Influencers who share original content frequently are more likely to stand out, get more attention, and be considered more authentic and knowledgeable. Consequently, brands that collaborate with these influencers achieve higher engagement rates within a specific marketing budget.   


The tone is one of the most difficult aspects of any marketing campaign. Marketers want to convey a positive message, but excessive positivity can have unfavorable outcomes — this is relevant for influencer marketing and more traditional channels. Because they imply a more assertive endorsement, users are more likely to engage with relatively positive posts. However, if a post is too positive that it appears to be false, consumers may react negatively.

Based on these variables and recommendations, investing in influencer marketing can yield higher engagement if brands keep a few factors in mind, like collaborating with influencers with a massive following, sharing original content, and having followers who match the brand’s target audience. When composting posts, brands should take a moderately positive tone. 

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