Piggybacking on the popularity and pervasiveness of social media platforms, influencer marketing enables brands to reach and engage with millions of consumers at pace. New data from YouGov shows that almost half (43%) of the global population across 17 international markets surveyed now follow a social media influencer of any type.
Although influencer marketing has seen dramatic growth over the last few years, demographic differences, social media usage, and other technological factors translate into varied levels of influencer following across countries.
When we delve into the types of influencers that are followed across the 17 markets surveyed across adults of all ages, YouGov data reveals that food, health, and celebrity influencers have the highest following globally (12% or more), while just under one in ten consumers worldwide follow gaming influencers (9%).
Zooming in on the video games market, gaming influencers have grown in popularity significantly in recent years, with leading personalities reaching audiences of loyal followers in the tens of millions. The growth in demand for gaming content has also driven a significant increase in the number of game streamers who broadcast content, with more and more mid-sized and micro influencers entering the scene. In Q3 2019, for example, 4.3 million channels on Twitch broadcasted live content; in Q2 2021, this number had nearly tripled, reaching 11.4 million channels, according to Stream Hatchet.
Looking across the three major gaming live-streaming platforms in the Western world, audiences are consuming content from gaming influencers at a steadily rising pace. Since Q3 2019, the number of hours of live gaming content watched has more than doubled, from 3.8 million hours to 9.0 million in Q2 2021. While YouTube Gaming and Facebook have both seen increases in viewership, Twitch has dominated the gaming live-stream market, driving nearly 7 million viewed hours in Q2 2021 alone.
Gaming influencers are the most popular type of influencer followed by males aged 18-34, with almost a quarter (23%) of all adults in this demographic segment following gaming personalities. Music and sports influencers are the second most popular influencer types globally, both followed by one in five men aged 18-34.
When looking at influencer types followed, although gaming influencers ranks in joint 11th position globally (alongside social activists), this changes significantly when we look at different demographic groups. Gaming influencers move up the ranking into 6th position globally (21%) when we delve into Gen Zs aged 18-24. Even more notably, gaming influencers are the top influencer group followed by men (12%), on a par with sports, music, and food influencers (all achieving 12%); whilst only 5% of females follow gaming influencers globally.