Social influencers are ditching Snapchat for Instagram

Does this mark the beginning of the end for Snapchat?

Influencers are ditching Snapchat and YouTube as interest in Instagram continues to rocket, according to new research.

The Activate 2018 State of Influencer Marketing Study, which saw interviews with more than 800 global social media influencers and 100 marketing professionals, revealed that Instagram and blogs are the two social media channels with the most partnership activity. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest sit in the middle with no real movement, while Snapchat and YouTube take a hit as they deal with serious declines in usage.

A total of 86 percent of marketers and 89 percent of influencers are using Snapchat less for influencer marketing campaigns than they did last year.

"In the past, Snap hasn't been the most accommodating to influencers," said Activate CEO Kamiu Lee. "Despite influencers flocking to the platform early on, Snap was surprisingly gun shy in catering to them. Influencers have shared some frustrations with Snap’s lack of urgency in providing data to creators. Up until February of this year, creators received extremely little data from brands on items like total story views, daily reach, engagement metrics, audience demographics, etc.

"This slow start toward creating an environment that is supportive of influencers means that it is that much harder for creators to really build a community and business on the platform, and over time, less likely to invest time into the platform from a commercial standpoint."

The research team has found no real evidence that Kylie Jenner's statement about Snapchat being redundant is a reason for creators leaving. 

Lee added: "It will be interesting to see how things continue to evolve -- to some extent, marketers and influencers flock to where the environment is ripe, and that is a mix of healthy audience growth and influencer/brand friendly measurement capabilities."

Instagram Stories has proven wildly popular with brands. A total of 55 percent of influencers and 70 percent of marketers said they've incorporated the feature into their sponsored partnerships. Instagram Story Highlights, although a relatively new feature, is also performing well. One underutilized area of Instagram is Polls. Only 16 percent of influencers and 14 percent of marketers have used the feature via sponsored content. Testing by Activate has found that Polls perform consistently with engagement rates.

The findings come as 62 percent of marketers continue to grow their influencer budgets. Meanwhile, 61 percent of influencers reported an increase in sponsored partnership opportunities in 2017 compared with the year before.

Many are opting for long-term partnerships which last for six months or more over one-off usage for campaigns with a quick turnaround.

The majority of marketers said they work with influencers to propel brand awareness. But that doesn't always work both ways -- only 37 percent of influencers said they get involved with partnerships to push the marketer's brand.

There is clearly work to be done when it comes to these relationships. The study revealed that only 29 percent of influencers are asked for their opinion on content. Worse still, the majority of marketers (55 percent) admit that the content strategy and direction of a sponsored partnership is decided well before influencers are added to the mix.

"We’ve seen magic happen between brands and influencers when the conditions are right for a true collaboration," part of the study reads. "First, there should be a hefty amount of due diligence in selecting influencers. Understanding the influencers, their audience and what they stand for should drive content direction and strategy. This is the only way that content stands a chance to resonate authentically.

"The goal of influencer marketing is not to simply pay someone to regurgitate pre-packaged brand messaging. Rather, it is to establish bidirectional relationships so that sponsored messaging reaches a level where it becomes genuine storytelling instead."