Making personal connections: How brands are leveraging social influencers

As brands seek ways to establish deeper, more personalized connections with consumers, they’re engaging social media influencers more heavily than in previous years. This increased focus speaks to both fragmenting media consumption and the significant engagement that many influencers boast across channels like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.

While influencer marketing was not born out of the pandemic, social circumstances over the past 18-plus months have fostered a stronger need for interpersonal connection among consumers, and social media has delivered. On Instagram, for example, data from Nielsen InfluenceScope, a solution suite that measures social media influencers, shows that the top 10 influencers by engagement rate have a combined 110 million global followers. The top 10 total interactions with those influencers commanded an engagement rate of 28%.

The massive follower bases and engagement rates across social media platforms have not gone unnoticed by brands. The 2021 Nielsen Annual Marketing Report, for example, noted that marketers planned to increase their social media spend more than any other channel, including growing options like online video and podcasts.

While influencer marketing represents a sub-category within the broader social media landscape, it’s one that brands should approach with a focus on long-term collaboration. But step 1 for any collaboration involves identifying an influencer that fits the brand’s personality and purpose—something that 86% of Nielsen’s InfluenceScope clients represent as a challenge. As with most marketing hurdles, data is critical in identifying consumer behavior, trends and possible partnerships in the influencer marketing space. 

California-based e.l.f Cosmetics recently began amplifying its own organic


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