Micro-influencers dominate Instagram influencer marketing, according to the latest research from influencer marketing platform Klear. Nearly 90% of sponsored Instagram feed posts received up to 1,000 likes, indicating the account has a small following.

This is an increase from the 84% recorded in 2018, suggesting marketers are shifting their influencer strategy to those with a smaller but more authentic following. For example, adidas successfully drove subscriptions to its grassroots football community by partnering with local team captains rather than players at the unattainable top-level of the sport.

Furthermore, while the reach of micro-influencers is smaller, consumers who engage with their content are more likely to recommend the brand to others. Marketers are also able to reach multiple audiences through multiple micro-influencers, rather than one single audience from a more expensive celebrity.

This shift in Instagram marketing has come at the expense of slightly larger influencers, with the share of sponsored posts receiving between 1,000 and 4,999 likes falling to 7% last year. Those receiving more than 5,000 has remained stable.

Over 3m posts with the #ad hashtag were posted on the Instagram feed in 2019, an increase of 42.3% year-on-year. South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Canada have seen rapid growth but the United States remains the largest market.

Brands must balance the campaign brief and the need for influencer creativity. Too much emphasis on promotion will be damaging – consumer trust in influencer content is falling.