As technologies change, so do the questions that people ask. The main question brands traditionally have to ask is where to find and advertise to their target customers. But this question no longer applies, since we all know where everyone is now: they’re checking their news feed on Facebook, scrolling through photos on Instagram, or reading the latest politics-bashing Twitter thread. Consumers have never been so concentrated in select few [virtual] places as they are now- so why has it become so difficult to reach them?

In the social media age, ads are considered disruptive, unwelcome, intrusive, and any other harsh word you can think of. Want to know what isn’t disruptive?

Other people.

Viewing the thoughts, opinions, and images of friends, family and idols is the whole purpose of having a social media account- so what better way to sell a brand or product to a person than through this same channel?

This is where influencer marketing comes in, and why it has exploded so rapidly over the last two years. Below, we give you the top six statistics that explain the hyper-growth of the fastest growing marketing strategy in the industry:

The average person spends 1.7 hours per day using social networks.

We spend more time on social networks than anywhere else online. But Millennials and Gen Z aren’t just spending their time there- they’re formulating purchase decisions, political opinions and more from what they absorb in their news feeds. This makes a news feed a brand goldmine, except for one small problem: people hate ads in their news feeds. The solution? Don’t advertise- use influence instead.

6% of millennials find paid ads to be credible.

…and it’s not just the Millennial generation that has grown skeptical. Per a study by Nielsen, 83% of consumers overall trust the recommendations of friends and family when making a purchase, while only 46% trust a Facebook ad. Consumer trust in brands and advertisers has never been lower. Instead of looking to brands, people are looking to one another, choosing which products to buy based off of what their best friend just bought, or what their favorite actress is using. As a result, brands are looking for strategies that allow them to be more human, and to harness this trust that leads to conversion.

More than 50% of the likes attributed to a paid Facebook campaign often come from fake accounts.

Even for the ads that appear to be successful, all of those clicks and likes could be about as useful as Monopoly money for a brand. Additionally, an ANA study estimates a projected advertising loss of 7 billion dollars to online bots in 2016. With click viruses coming at your paid ads from all angles, the dollar value of a click, like, or impression count on your paid ad has never meant less.

Ad block usage has doubled in the last year- and it’s about to surpass 1 billion downloads.

Over the last year, ad blockers have seen 41% year over year growth in usage. Over 200 million people globally are using ad blockers right now, with 45 million in the U.S. alone. If those numbers don’t drive the point home, consider this small little number: one billion. That’s the number of downloads that AdBlock Plus is about to reach. Enough said.

Word of Mouth is 50x more likely to trigger a purchase than an impersonal ad.

It’s no revolutionary breakthrough to acknowledge that word of mouth tactics are often the best form of marketing- but this strategy has traditionally been limited to grassroots campaigns and other brand events carried out on the ground with in-person interactions. However, the advent of social media has allowed brands to deploy word-of-mouth tactics at scale, reaching millions with a few strategically placed influencer posts in a news feed. As a result, it’s become a strategy for brands that is not only possible, but preferable for bottom line value.

Influencer marketing has evolved into a data-driven strategy:

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The mass adoption of social media has not only allowed marketers to use word-of-mouth strategies at scale, but has also transformed word-of-mouth marketing into a science. By accessing user data systematically to create and analyze consumer profiles, and then taking it a step further to categorize these customers based upon their levels of influence and engagement, brands can now harness their own customers with influence to deploy word-of-mouth strategies.

Initially, these strategies were tied to soft impressions, like the number of impressions or the size of the potential audience an influencer can reach, but the evolution of word-of-mouth had led to data-driven metrics that are tied to the resulting ROI the strategy will drive.

Want to know how influencers have driven a higher ROI for brands in the past? Check out our case studies deck for real-time examples of an influencer strategy: