Why marketers should care so much about influencers

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Why do marketers care so much about influencers? In the battle for attention between influencers and brands, influencers crush our brands.

Influencer marketing matters more than ever. With Twitter’s new timelines, every major social network now offers some level of filtering based on engagement. We must elicit engagement from our audiences, or our social media marketing is for naught. We desperately need likes, comments, and shares just to be seen.

How large is the gap between influencers and brands? I examined these top brands and influencers to compare engagement rates.


  • Disney
  • The New York Times
  • Red Bull
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • BBC News
  • Facebook
  • Coca-Cola
  • Oreo
  • Ernst & Young
  • Microsoft
  • Walmart
  • Ford Motor Company

  • Kim Kardashian
  • Justin Bieber
  • Lady Gaga
  • Barack Obama
  • Vin Diesel
  • Selena Gomez
  • Taylor Swift
  • Will Smith
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
  • Megan Fox

Let’s first look at the overall trends. How do influencers and brands compare, at least on Facebook, for likes, comments, and shares? I plotted the median engagements by week; brands are blue, influencers are green:

Overall Engagement by Type.png

Ouch. The brands – and these are major Fortune 50 brands and media powerhouses – are literally flatlined compared to individual influencers.

How much of a difference is there between the influencer and the brand?

Differences between Individuals and Brands.png

Influencers are anywhere from 954% to 14,765% more influential than their brand peers. No wonder marketers are racing to court influencers as quickly and heavily as possible.

What kinds of content are brands and influencers seeing success with?

By Content Type - Brands.png

For what gets shared? Video – native on Facebook, video in general, and YouTube links.

If, at the highest tiers of marketing budgets and influence, brands are barely scratching engagement compared to similar top tier influencers, we can only imagine how bad engagement is at lower tiers versus influencers.

Influencer marketing must be part of your digital marketing strategy if you want access to audiences, engagement, and social actions that matter.

If you’d like a custom investigation of your industry or competitors, contact me through SHIFT and we’ll be happy to do a project with you.

Methodology and disclosures: The above list of influencers was the sample pool; influencers and brands were selected based on total theoretical reach (number of Likes). The time period sampled was February 17, 2015 to February 16, 2016. SHIFT Communications underwrote this investigation because I used their software to generate the data and findings. Facebook was the only data source.

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