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Navigating the New Era of Influencer Marketing: How to be Successful on Instagram, TikTok, & Co.

by Michael Haenlein, Ertan Anadol, Tyler Farnsworth, Harry Hugo, Jess Hunichen, and Diana Welte

Navigating the New Era of Influencer Marketing: How to be Successful on Instagram, TikTok, & Co.
Firms need to find the right influencers for the right markets.

The influencer market is rapidly increasing in relevance for many firms and industries and is now estimated to be worth $10 billion. Despite this, many marketing managers possess little understanding about how those platforms compare to traditional media.

Social Media Platforms for Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing and social media are inherently linked: influencers need the exposure provided by social media platforms to get notoriety, and those platforms achieve at least part of their appeal through the content posted by influencers active on them.

Despite sharing similarities, many of the top social media platforms engage with different target audiences in different ways. For instance, despite having the largest audience, Facebook has low satisfaction ratings, which might explain its relatively low cost to advertise on their platform. Format can also play a role in the sustainability of platforms for influencer marketing. For example, Twitter – a text-based platform – is considered by many influencers to be undesirable for marketing due to it being more difficult to engage with audiences.

These observations help describe why Instagram and TikTok stand out for influencer marketing. The core differences between Facebook and Twitter compared to Instagram and TikTok lie in their primary appeal to users. Many use Facebook and Twitter as a means to communicate with family or friends and to get news. However, many use Instagram and TikTok for entertainment. This makes it easier to become influential on those platforms since users may follow other users for their mere entertainment value.

Four Pieces of Advice for Firms Engaging in Influencer Marketing

The vast majority of users on both Instagram and TikTok are regular individuals who use the platforms to either share content with their social circle or to enjoy content produced by others. However, a small group stands out in the sense that they are followed by significantly more users, which results in the fact that content uploaded by them is diffused to a substantially larger audience. These users are referred to as influencers. Firms looking to collaborate with influencers should do so in a way that encourages audience engagement.

Managers must understand each platform’s user culture and language. Managers must realize that influencer marketing is more than just booking a post – influencer marketing must be integrated into a larger marketing plan to see better results. Managers must also be able to choose when to use a micro vs a macro influencer. For instance, for more directed campaigns, it would be wise to market with micro influencers who may have higher engagements rates in the specific domain. Lastly, managers must not manage influencers too closely. This to avoid your marketing campaigns appearing ingenuine or not authentic.

Four Questions to Choose the Right Influencers

One of the most critical decisions in any influencer marketing campaign is to identify the right influencers to collaborate with. To accomplish this goal, you need to ask yourself these four questions to help ensure that you work with the right influencers.

What constitutes an influencer? An influencer must be someone who has a large and engaged follower base on social media platforms. Who is ready to do what it takes? You want to avoid working with an influencer who lacks the necessary professionalism or drive. Where are the influencers genuinely passionate about your industry? Identifying influencers who are interested and influential in your industry is the first and probably most crucial step to developing an effective influencer marketing campaign. Which platforms to use to reach your base? Companies should ideally identify influencers who are present on multiple platform to broaden reach, decrease dependency on a single platform, and to leverage the possibilities of alternative formats.


The world of influencer marketing is fluid and dynamic. Effective marketing strategies are constantly subject to change. Social media platforms themselves play a big role in the fluidity. Because these platforms are always innovating to maximize profits, they will implement changes that will surely effect firms and influencers. In many ways, social media platforms exist in the unprecedented legal territory, meaning changes may also arise due to new regulation or laws. Despite this, influencer marketing remains a goldmine for firms to reach audiences in new and innovative ways.

To find out more, please read the full article in California Management Review, Volume 63, Issue 1.


California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

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