2021 Guide to Influencer Marketing

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The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing in 2021

How Influencer Marketing Works in 2021

March 24, 2021
10 minutes


If your brand still hasn’t used the many benefits of teaming up with an influencer to promote its products or services, it’s time to start! Here is how influencer marketing works, what’s the best kind of influencer for you, and how much it costs.

Even though social media platforms are trying their best to stop influencers from making large amounts of money without them taking their piece of the pie, and trends on platforms fluctuating and changing all the time, influencers’ content is here to stay. And it seems it is still incredibly important in swinging purchasing decisions in audiences.

In Influencer Marketing Hub’s Benchmark Report for 2021, the platform surveyed more than 5000 marketing agencies, brands, and professionals to find the participants’ views and experiences with this industry.

They found some statistics that prove the efficiency of influencer marketing strategies:

  • Influencer marketing is set to grow to approximately $13.8 billion in 2021
  • 90% of the participants believed influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing
  • 67% of them use Instagram for influencer marketing
  • There has also been a colossal increase in TikTok influencer marketing
  • Finding influencers is the most significant challenge for marketers that run campaigns in-house, but is becoming less of a problem compared to previous years’ reports

So, needless to say, when performed correctly, this form of digital marketing can help you reach potential customers quickly and has a great return on investment. So, let’s take it step by step.

What is influencer marketing?

The simplest way to define influencer marketing is that it is a form of social media marketing, which uses an endorsement by popular people on social media or celebrities, that create content for their targeted audience promoting a certain brand or product.

It is an extremely effective social media trend because influencers have their own large number of followers that learn about the brand being endorsed through the sponsored content. So, influencer marketing helps with:

  • Brand recognition
  • Brand awareness
  • Sales
  • Social proof

What type of influencer works best for your business?

It is hard to say out on a whim because different brands require a different “expert influencer” and size of the audience.

For a beauty business, a beauty influencer with a large following works perfectly, but for a board game publisher, a reviewer with a small crowd of 1000 dedicated board game lovers can be more than enough.

The reason for that is that a certain niche sometimes requires an expert, whereas a product endorsement usually works better when the promoter has a big audience and plays the numbers game.

If you know your brand’s goals and ideal buyer persona, here are the types of influencers to look out for and choose from.

Mega influencers

If you have social media, especially Instagram, it’s practically impossible to escape the real mega influencers. They usually have more than a million followers, and an endorsement by them costs… well, most likely, also millions of dollars.

Mega influencers aren’t experts in the things they promote in any way, but they can rely on their celebrity and star factor. A good example of a mega influencer would be Kylie Jenner or Kim Kardashian. They have enough fame and star power to make or break a brand, as proven with many things they have endorsed.

Before the Kardashian-Jenners started taking them (if they even did), the SugarBearHair vitamins for hair growth and health were something people never even heard of. But, if the reigning royal family of Instagram takes them… Well, they sell fast. However, the Insider claims that after trying them, all they ended up with was a sugar high and breakouts.

kim sugarbear hair.png Truth in Advertising

The point of this example is that while effective, the mega influencer campaign won’t necessarily bring trust and customer loyalty to your brand. Still, being endorsed by extremely popular influencers helps greatly with recognition.

Macro influencers

Macro influencers are in many ways the same as mega influencers, with crowds bigger than a million following them. However, instead of being celebrities, they are the type of influencer that came to fame through the internet, by sharing certain expertise.

Think of bloggers, vloggers, reviewers, and industry big players. A famous example is Michelle Phan, a veteran in the beauty blogging industry, that currently runs her own makeup brand, EM Cosmetics.

Phan became popular through her makeup tutorials, and after a few years of being in the public eye, she took a hiatus off social media and YouTube.

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After a failed partnership with L’Oreal that limited her creative freedom, she now carefully chooses her partnering brands.

With more than two million followers on Instagram, she often uses her platform to promote skincare, fashion and beauty brands that align with her beliefs and political views.

The takeaway from her story is that when you are choosing an influencer to partner with, you should make sure that they are genuinely excited about your brand, and don’t just view you as the next paycheck.

But also, this type of influencer will help you show your audience that you work with people who understand the value of your brand, and are experts in what they promote.

michelle phan.png Michelle Phan on Instagram

Micro influencers

Micro influencers have a thousand to a hundred thousand followers, which in my mind, is not that micro of a figure.

Their audience might be smaller, but they are more invested in giving feedback, engaging with their followers and promoting more niche products. As of late, many micro influencers are content creators on TikTok as well and don’t only take to Instagram for promoting their partners’ products.

Since they are more likely to stick to one type of content and product, micro influencers are perfect to help drive interested leads into making a purchasing decision. If your goal is not to reach brand recognition, but drive sales, better partner up with a micro influencer that knows what they are doing.

A good example of a micro influencer, especially for the Gen Z crowd, is Karen Camargo, who uses both her TikTok and Instagram account to share videos and about makeup. She often partners with brands to create customized products which she shares with her followers.

karen camaro 1.jpg

Niche influencers

Although very similar to micro influencers, this group takes their expert subjects even more specifically. When I think about niche topics you can find on Instagram, I can immediately remember a feminist book club, clean eating and meal prepping nutritionist, a DIY furniture guide, and a board game reviewer. So, as you can see, nothing is too specific.

It means a smaller audience, but also a more loyal one. So, if your product or service is very specific (i.e. vegan restaurant), instead of an Insta-foodie that endorses any restaurant that approaches, hire a vegan food reviewer. If you produce pet grooming products, find a vet that shares tips for pet owners. You’d be surprised how many specific profiles there are on social media.

A niche influencer that comes to mind is Bonnie Taub-Dix, a dietician and nutritionist whose goal on the internet is to break down misleading and confusing food labels, as well as dietary myths. She translates it, as she says, into “consumer-friendly information”.

And although she has less than six thousand followers, she often partners up with healthy food brands and helps people in need of nutrition facts find what they’re looking for.


Loyal customers

You are probably confused at the moment. How are your regular customers influencers?

It’s simple: your loyal customers go through all the stages of the marketing funnel, and if they still stick with you, they are more likely to recommend your business to other people.

I can use myself as an example: there is a small Arabian restaurant in my town that I love, and I’ve taken so many of my friends there, that the owner now knows me by name, knows my order, asks me how the food was, and almost always treats me and the whole table a dessert on the house.

And that just makes me even more inspired to share this amazing small business with everyone.

Be it through social media, word of mouth, an online review, or a referral campaign, your loyal customers are definitely stars for you. You should nurture them and give them an incentive to promote your brand so that they can become your brand ambassadors.

Different influencer marketing collaborations

Now that we showed you the different types of influencers, there are also different posts and campaigns that you can create once you find the right influencer for your brand.

Sponsored content on social media platforms

Back in the day, social media influencers could get away with promoting a brand without adding the “Sponsored” badge to it. However, sponsored content has to be marked as such since social media platforms started putting in more effort in fighting fake news and media illiteracy.

So, sponsored content means that a brand is paying an influencer to promote their brand on their personal platform, and in return, they need to let their audience know they are suitably compensated.

sponsored.png Mobile Marketing Magazine

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Sponsored and guest blog posts

If a blogger or vlogger writes about your brand on their platform, or for your blog as a guest writer, that is considered a sponsored or guest blog. And everyone does it: even National Geographic and the Guardian do sponsored posts. So, if your product or service needs storytelling and less visual, short-attention targeted posts, blogging is something you need to think about.


An influencer takes over Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or whatever social media is the most important profile of the brand for a day or more. It is an interesting form of promotional media because you see the brand from the influencer’s point of view. Takeovers are very common for event marketing (concerts, festivals, etc.)


Just think of how many times you’ve liked a page because a friend tagged you on a giveaway to get something for free. It is simple: an influencer offers free products on their profile, and to qualify to get them, you usually need to follow the page of the brand, the influencer, and also like and comment with tagging a friend. It drives huge numbers of people to like and promotes organic reach.

giveaway.png Dear Danison

Brand ambassador deals

Brand ambassador deals are more long-term than hiring an influencer for a single campaign. Think of George Clooney and Nespresso, or Cate Blanchett and Armani. The same happens with influencers and big beauty and fashion brands. Similar to brand ambassador deals are celebrity endorsements.

How to find an influencer and how much to pay them?

It’s not hard to find influencers, cause if you’re online, it’s likely that they will be the ones finding you. If simple research on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube doesn’t do, or you’re operating in a specific geographic area, there are websites like Upfluence and Brandbassador to help you find them.

Here are some steps you need to take beforehand:

  • Make sure you know who your target audience is.
  • Research the best platform to reach your target audience.
  • Find an influencer that is vetted and has a history of successful collaborations. Unfortunately, influencer fraud is a thing.
  • Make sure you operate within a predefined budget, management strategy and key indicators.
  • Decide on goals, message and tone of voice together with the influencer.
  • Track the key metrics and measure the success of your influencer campaign. This will show you if it’s a good return on investment.


Although evolving, influencer marketing is of great value when done right. But, before reaching out to influencers and planning your strategy, you need research of the market and audience, as well as the pricing of influencer marketing in your area and niche.

Make sure you know how much you can afford to spend, and don’t be afraid to go for smaller, but expert influencers in niche markets.

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Stefanija Tenekedjieva

March 24, 2021

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.