Influencers and Consumer Trust on Social Media


What Brands Must Know About Consumer Perceptions when it comes to Influencer Selection, Campaign Planning and Evaluating Results on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more.



The goal of the study conducted by Fullscreen and Shareablee was to uncover performance differentiators in the cross social digital influencer space. In particular, they wanted to understand the impact of top-tier Digital Creators relative to newer Influencer segments like micro-Influencers and well-known celebrities in the social space.

  • Fullscreen looked at 31,802 Influencers and segmented them by cross-social follower count, resulting in the following cells: Celebrities, Macro Influencers, Digital Emergers & Risers, and Micro Influencers. Celebrities and Macro Influencers were additionally categorized by where they became famous – offline or online. The analysis looked at many always-on metrics such as Engagement Rate, Actions, Followers, etc. across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
  • Additionally, the study surveyed 1,281 individuals aged 18-34 who engaged with the previously mentioned content types to glean more qualitative perceptions and attitudes towards branded content on these Influencer channels.
  • Survey respondents were recruited via social ads, from a base of U.S. engagers:
    • For the overall behavioral data, they examined the following person-ID sample sets across Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter influencer engagers:
      • Celebrity Engagers- 602K
      • Trailblazer Influencer Engagers -1M
      • Emerging Voices/Rising Stars Influencer Engagers –599K
      • Micro Influencer Engagers– 283K
  • What is Influence? How do we define Influencers?
  • By the Numbers: Key Trends on Social Media Macro, Micro and Celebrity Influencers by genre
  • Impact on Consumer Attitudes: Trust, Authenticity, Pass-Along Value and ROI


What is Influence? How do we define Influencers?

Influencers began with the Royals. Royals became movie stars and athletes and over time, these celebrities not only promoted product lines but inspired product lines as well. Now, influencer marketing has evolved from royalty to real people.

Technology has changed our relationship with one another and how we are influenced. Studies have shown that:

  • By 2020, there will be 7x more connected devices than people on the planet.
  • 48% of 13-34 year olds have connected with someone they never met or have no mutual friends with.
  • 45% of 13-33 year olds are in a fandom à The rise of niche communities 36% compared to in 2013
Archetypes of Influence That Exist in the Industry 


Tiers of Influence 


Influence lives on a continuum: Our definition is our filter for influence
  • Authenticity (honesty + vulnerability + personal stories)
  • Trust (emotional connection + consistency over time)
  • Unity (community + shared identities)



By the Numbers: Key Trends on Social Media Macro, Micro, and Celebrity Influencers by Genre

The most surprising finding was that the number of times people engaged with brand and publisher content across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram YTD in the US was 27 billion while there were 73 billion engagements with influencer content in the US. To put it another way, 3 out of ever 4 ‘branded’ content engagements on social happen with an influencer.


Influencers as Amplifiers of Retail Signals 

Influencers are much louder than you think. In 2018 YTD, they created 4x more social interaction than every media company in the US combined.


Tech and Family Influencers saw the Most Growth in Average Fan and Follower Counts Across Platforms since January 2017  


Tech Influencers Saw the Greatest Growth This Year in Average Actions Per Month Across Platforms (+35%), All Other Categories Saw Small Declines


Beauty, Fashion, and Lifestyle Influencers Drive Highest Engagement and Remain Consistent Y/Y 


Gaming and Lifestyle Influencers Drive Highest Engagement and Remain Consistent Y/Y


Despite Having Much Larger Fan Bases, Macro and Risers Outperform in Average Engagement Rate Over Digital Emergers and Micro Influencers  


Fan Sizes: Micro Influencers Saw the Largest Growth Y/Y 


Macro Influencers and Celebrity Influencers own 43% of all content and 96% of all category engagement

Digital Creators Provide the Sweet Spot on Engagement
  • Digital creators (trailblazers and emergers) have the highest cross-social among influencer segments – from +50% to +88% higher than Celebrities and Micro Influencers
  • In general, Influencers command much higher engagement rates than Non-Influencer posts (brands and publishers)
Engagement Rates by Platform
  • Digital Trailblazers had the highest engagement rate across each major social platform – FB IG TW
  • Digital emergers and risers were number two on Instagram and Twitter
  • Facebook was the platform with the greatest parity in engagement rates across the cells


Impact on Consumer Attitudes: Trust, Authenticity, Pass-Along Value and ROI

Digital Creators Receive Marks for Creativity and Usefulness
  • While fans recognize the business behind Digital Creators, nearly half believe they are creating content to provide “interesting and useful content to fans” and “for self-expression and creativity”
  • Celebrity content performed much lower on these altruistic metrics than Digital Creators.
  • 18-24s were far more likely to say Creators are making content to be useful or for creativity
Levers of Trust for Digital Creators
  • Trust in Digital Creators has been driven by their “knowledge” and “honesty”
  • Nearly one-third (32.4%) of Digital Trailblazer fans say they trust them because they seem like they could be my friend – a much higher rate than Celebrities (19%) and Micro Influencers (24.3%)
  • Young Millennials were far more likely to report trust being driven by friendship than older Millennials.

The research shows that macro influencers came in first when it came to increasing trust in a partner brand.

18-24 year olds are most trusting of Macro and Meso advertised brands, and Micro Influencers Significantly Decreased. They also trust brands more than celebrities and had lower trust on average than other age breaks.

Conversely, 25-34 year olds are very trusting of the influencer’s world. They are most trusting of Macro Influencer Content when it comes to brand advertisers.  

Trust in Influencers is Higher than Trust in Brands
  • More than one-third of those engaging with Influencers trust what an Influencer says about the brand more so than what the brand says about itself.
  • The older demographic in this study (25-34) actually received the highest levels of trust in Influencers as compared to brands.
Does Influence Lead to Purchase?
  • Almost half (42%) of those exposed to Influencer content report trying something they recommended and more than one-quarter (26%) say they actually made a purchase.
  • Digital Trailblazers had the highest levels of making a purchase (31%) relative to other segments and +55% higher than celebrities.
  • Adults 18-24 were far more likely to report making a purchase than Adults 25-34 (48% v. 26%)
Macro Influencers Are Most Effect at Driving Users to Buy or Try Products 
  • Engagers of Micro Influencers are most willing to recommend brands to friends and family
  • Almost half of all 18-24 year olds surveyed made a purchase based on influencer recommendation (only 10% of respondents said they have never been driven to take action by an influencer post)

Key Takeaways

  • For the most part, influencers are cross-social in their posting strategies. However, Digital Emergers (17%) and Digital Trailblazers (42%) post much higher levels of video content to YouTube relative to Micro Influencers (5%) and Celebrities (8%).
  • Compared to previous research in the Influencer Marketing field, this study proves that Macro Influencers with follower counts of 250K+ generate higher engagement rates than Micro Influencers with <250K followers. Surprisingly, these engagement rates are higher than celebrities.
  • Consumers engaging with Digital Trailblazers report the highest levels of increased trust (45%) and purchase intention (30.6%) relative to the other influencer segments.


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