Both Influencers and Brands Embraced Instagram Stories in 2018

Klear found that they represented one-third of sponsored feed posts

Women were behind 84.6 percent of sponsored feed posts on Instagram last year Getty Images
Headshot of David Cohen

Influencers on Instagram embraced Stories in 2018 as a way to let their creativity shine through, and brands soon followed suit, executives in the sector said in response to a new study by Klear. In an analysis of the more than 2.1 million sponsored posts on Instagram last year that contained the #paid hashtag, the influencer-marketing platform found that Stories represented one-third of them.
“Today, many posts by influencers on your Instagram feed are very polished,” said Guy Avigdor, Klear’s chief operating officer. “There’s a lot of work behind them, and they don’t look as authentic as they used to. Stories are the new way to create more interesting and engaging content. Influencers began using it first, and they were the ones pushing for it, but when brands learned more, this became a mutual effort.”
However, not everyone saw the benefits for brands. According to Michael Brito, executive vice president, digital and technology at integrated data-driven communications agency Zeno Group, “Many influencers have egos to protect and don’t want to be known for just ‘being paid’ to post.”
Instagram Stories, he said, is the perfect platform for them, since the Stories themselves only last 24 hours.
“This isn’t the preferred channel for brands, though, because the shelf life of a story is so short,” Brito added.
Influencers were likely drawn to the format by the variety of creative options it makes available to them, compared with Instagram feed posts containing images or videos.
“The ability to tell a story through multiple frames, as well as the swipe-up function to drive traffic, have made it a great format for marketers to utilize,” said Kamiu Lee, CEO of influencer marketing platform Activate. “For influencers, the ephemeral nature of Stories allows them more freedom.”
Instagram announced on the second birthday of Instagram Stories in August that 400 million people were using the feature every day.
Influencer marketing platform Mavrck also noted brands’ increased use of Stories when analyzing campaigns run via its platform during the fourth quarter of 2018, but its numbers were lower, as co-founder and CEO Lyle Stevens said Stories made up 11.55 percent of sponsored posts in its campaigns, double the percentage recorded in the second quarter of last year.
“We expect to continue to see an increase in Instagram story posts in 2019, especially among micro-influencers who aren’t always getting paid cash for their collaborations and instead receive products, promo codes, gift cards or experiences,” said Stevens. “Instagram Stories often require less creative effort and do not persist on influencers’ profiles unless they are saved as Highlights, so influencers are willing to create them for lower incentive amounts.”
Klear found that influencer marketing via the Instagram platform grew by 39 percent last year, compared with 2017. Specifically, 2.113 million feed posts contained the #ad hashtag in 2018, compared with 1.516 million the previous year.


Brito was not surprised by the growth, saying, “Twitter has been on the decline for years among millennial consumers, and many have flocked to Instagram and Snapchat. And Facebook isn’t an easy-to-use platform for influencer publishing. Plus, [Instagram Stories] usage among consumers is growing, so it makes sense that marketers are spending their money there.”
According to Klear, women (84.6 percent of sponsored feed posts) and micro-influencers (84 percent) dominated the action.
“We do find that women generally follow and engage with more influencers on Instagram as a channel,” said Lee, “while other social channels are more relevant for the male demographic, including Twitch, YouTube and Twitter.”
The company broke out micro-influencers by determining that 84 percent of sponsored feed posts in 2018 received 1,000 likes or fewer, while 12 percent tallied between 1,000 and 5,000, 2 percent between 5,000 and 10,000 and just 2 percent reaching more than 10,000 likes. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.