The way influencers interact with their audience is always evolving as new tools become available on social media and attitudes shift about which platforms are the most important.
To find out the social media marketing trends and practices influencers plan to focus on in 2019, Healthline surveyed a group of 337 influencers across all social media channels.
From the responses, we were able to identify some clear trends and takeaways for 2019, from which social media platforms influencers plan to most focus on and the frequency of their posts to why they work with brands and how they measure success.
Below are the results.
Demographics and content themes
For our survey, we reached out to influencers who have at least 5,000 followers. There was a wide range in the audience sizes of the 337 influencers who responded to our survey. This allowed us to dig deeper and find out how influencers with larger audiences operate differently than their peers.
Of the respondents, 33 percent said they have a following between 10,000 and 50,000 people across all of their social channels. Meanwhile, 30 percent have between 5,000 and 20,000 followers.
Of the influencers with the largest followings, 34 percent have more than 50,000 followers. Those with more than 100,000 followers accounted for 17 percent of survey respondents.
A majority of respondents — more than 63 percent — said they value their blog over their social media accounts. Fitness influencers are the exception, though. They’re more likely to value their social media accounts just as much as their blogs.
“Social media has become too much about working the algorithm and less about creating genuine content,” said one anonymous respondent.
“We’re focusing more on our blog and the elements that feed into it, as the big picture of all moving parts is what will carry our messages to our following and beyond,” they said.
The largest group, accounting for more than 38 percent, said a specific health condition is the main focus of their social media presence.
There are social media accounts providing inspiration, education, and community around just about any health condition. Our survey, however, found that influencers are most likely to focus on mental health within their social media channels than any other category, condition, or theme.
“Patients are making most of their healthcare choices on all levels, based upon internet searches and social media information,” said Barbara Jacoby, a blogger at LetLifeHappen.com.
“It is time that medical professionals and all of those who are working in related businesses realize that the best way to reach their target audiences is through social media,” she said.
What’s driving the influencers to create content and engage with their audiences? A majority (57 percent) said their main message is to inspire and encourage others. Compare that to the less than 1 percent of respondents who said their main purpose on social media is to sell products.
Social media features and tools
Nearly half of respondents to our survey said they plan to focus on Instagram in 2019 — more than any other social media platform.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has reported extensive growth in the number of users who create and watch stories within the app.
The brand announced back in June that there are 400 million daily active users of the Stories feature. This feature provides a clear opportunity for influencers to engage their audiences. Our respondents echo this sentiment.
Of those who plan to focus most on Instagram, 80 percent said they plan to use the Stories feature the most.
Moreover, influencers who specialize in a specific health condition said they’re more likely to use the Question and Answer feature in a Stories post more than any other group.
While not a majority, 36 percent of influencers who focus on a specific health condition said they’re more likely to prioritize Facebook over Instagram in 2019.
Meanwhile, fitness influencers are the least likely group (6 percent) to focus on Facebook.
Social practices and strategies
There’s no use creating content if it’s only going to be sucked up into a social media vacuum. And those who participated in the survey seemed to agree. Respondents said they were of the mindset that fewer posts may drive more value for their followers.
Almost 30 percent of survey respondents said they post on social media platforms at least once per day. Almost 40 percent said they post between two to five times per day.
Meanwhile, influencers with more than 100,000 followers are likely to post less than their peers on social media, about once per day. Respondents with 50,000 followers or less are more likely to post two to five times per day.
When it comes to measuring success, 31 percent of influencers said they look at how many likes a post receives. Page likes, however, are the least likely measure of success, with 1 percent of respondents using them as a barometer.
Influencers with more than 100,000 followers have a slightly different view of success. They’re more likely to use comments or views as indicators.
“While I do look at the social media metrics and appreciate posts getting attention, I also recognize that a less ‘successful’ post could still make a difference in one person’s life,” said one anonymous respondent. “That can be enough.”
Working with brands and sponsorships
As mentioned earlier, less than 1 percent of influencers said their primary goal on social media is to sell a product. However, social media is cluttered with influencers pushing sponsored posts.
According to 68 percent of our respondents, the decision of whether to work with a brand largely depends on whether “their message aligns with mine.”
“As a physician, I think sponsored posts are a tricky thing to manage,” said another anonymous respondent.
“I don’t want to give the impression that companies are paying me off to advertise a product as ‘sponsored by a dermatologist.’ This is why I’m so hesitant to do sponsored posts with any company unless I myself use the product and see results,” they said.
Sponsored posts are the most preferred method for working with brands, said 41 percent of surveyed influencers. Social media account takeovers, however, are the least popular. Just slightly more than 1 percent of respondents said they favor them.
More than half of respondents (53 percent) said they want brand partnerships to drive an increase in their recognition and reach. This is compared to the less than 5 percent of respondents who said they want access to events.
Family and parenting influencers are also more likely than any other group to prefer help with marketing their content from other brands.
However, as a new year approaches, influencers also said they see the value in creating meaningful offline interactions by attending in-person events. Influencers who specialize in a specific health condition are more likely than any other group to be interested in working with a brand to attend or host an event.
It’s something Britt, a blogger at TheBananaDiaries.com, plans to do in 2019.
“I think in 2019, while I’ll be focusing on Instagram a lot, I’ll also be focusing on YouTube and growing the community specifically around my blog and hosting events. I’m taking my online community and putting it in real life,” she said.