female influencer holding pocketbook in front of camera
Utilizing a social media influencer — particularly one that has an engaged audience within your core demographic — can boost your company's ROI. — Getty Images/fotostorm

Influencer marketing has become incredibly popular in the digital age, and it's easy to see why: Studies have shown that leveraging social influencers can yield up to 11 times higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional outbound marketing.

That's because people trust other people's opinions more than they trust corporate messaging. According to Mobile Marketer, 51% of social media users trust user images because they're "more authentic and trustworthy" than what brands create.

This is where influencer marketing can be incredibly powerful. Mobile Marketer reported that nearly 45% of social media users follow an influencer, and among them, 34% have discovered a brand solely based on influencer posts.

For brands targeting the highly coveted Gen Z and millennial audiences, influencers are often the key to quickly and effectively expanding their reach. Members of these demographic groups (roughly ages 18 to 35) "look for and value like-minded opinions from influential voices on social media," said Patrina Couling, director of marketing and partnerships at Rooftop Cinema Club.

"[Influencer marketing] allows us to reach a wider audience base by extending awareness through [the influencers'] communities, followers and fan base," Couling told CO—. "[We] work directly with brand advocates who have experienced [us] firsthand and can be an authentic voice to spread the word."

[Read: How to Leverage Influencer Marketing]

Top influencers by category

Influencer Marketing Hub defines an influencer as someone who has the power to impact consumers' purchasing decisions because of their "authority, knowledge, position or relationship" with their audience. These individuals typically have a following in a particular niche and actively engage with that following.

So, which social media users are the most influential in your industry? Using a combination of influencer lists and social media platform research, we've identified the top five individual social media influencers across nine major industries, with current follower counts for their top two channels as of December 2019.

Automotive

  • Tim "Shmee" Burton (Shmee150): Automotive vlogger. 1.9M YouTube subscribers, 1.4M Instagram followers.
  • Eric Cook (EricTheCarGuy): Auto repair and tips vlogger. 138M YouTube subscribers, 154K Facebook followers.
  • Do It With Dan: Motorcycle vlogger. 1.23M YouTube subscribers, 304K Instagram followers.
  • David Patterson (ThatDudeInBlue): Car reviewer. 1.05M YouTube subscribers, 267K Instagram followers.
  • The Smoking Tire: Automotive podcast host. 924K YouTube followers, 224K Instagram followers.

Beauty

  • Huda Kattan (HudaBeauty): Makeup artist and blogger. 40M Instagram followers, 3.7M YouTube subscribers.
  • James Charles: Celebrity makeup artist and vlogger. 16.3M YouTube subscribers, 15.9M Instagram followers.
  • Rachel Levin (RCLBeauty101): Celebrity makeup artist and vlogger. 14.3M YouTube subscribers, 3.4M Instagram followers.
  • Tati Westbrook (GlamLifeGuru): Beauty tips vlogger and product reviewer. 9.7M YouTube subscribers, 2.9M Instagram followers.
  • Jaclyn Hill: Professional makeup artist, vlogger and product reviewer. 6.2M Instagram followers, 5.9M YouTube subscribers.

[Read: 5 Business Lessons From Shark Tank's Daymond John]

Business

  • Richard Branson: Founder of the Virgin Group. 12.7M Twitter followers, 4.2M Instagram followers.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk (GaryVee): Investor and CEO of Vayner Media and Vayner Sports. 7.2M Instagram followers, 2.1M Twitter followers.
  • Grant Cardone: Business author and serial entrepreneur. 6.1M Facebook followers, 2.6M Instagram followers.
  • Martha Debayle: Radio/TV host and founder of MKK Group. 2.4M Twitter followers, 1.9M Facebook followers.
  • Daymond John (TheSharkDaymond): “Shark Tank” Investor and founder of FUBU. 1M Instagram followers, 671K Twitter followers.

[Read: 5 Business Lessons From Shark Tank's Daymond John]

Fashion

  • Chiara Ferragni: Fashion blogger and entrepreneur. 17.8M Instagram followers, 1.2M Facebook followers.
  • Olivia Palermo: Fashion entrepreneur. 6.3M Instagram followers, 1.2M Facebook followers.
  • Mariano Di Vaio: Fashion blogger and designer. 6M Instagram followers, 187K YouTube subscribers.
  • Jose Zuniga (Teachingmensfashion): Men's fashion vlogger and entrepreneur. 4.37M YouTube subscribers, 1.1M Instagram followers.
  • Evelina Cutza Barry (Evelina): Fashion and lifestyle vlogger and entrepreneur. 1.3M YouTube subscribers, 578K Instagram followers.

We’ve found those who have already engaged with [our brand] are more likely to share quality content that will resonate.

Patrina Couling, director of marketing and partnerships, Rooftop Cinema Club

Food

  • Jamie Oliver: Chef, restaurateur and TV host. 7.5M Instagram followers, 7M Facebook followers.
  • Rosanna Pansino: Baker and food vlogger. 11.7M YouTube subscribers, 4.6M Instagram followers.
  • Andrew Rea (Binging with Babish): Food/cooking vlogger. 5.7M YouTube subscribers, 512K Instagram followers.
  • Laura Vitale (Laura in the Kitchen): Food/cooking vlogger. 3.5M YouTube subscribers, 770K Facebook followers.
  • Jun Yoshizuki (Juns Kitchen): Food/cooking vlogger. 4.4M YouTube subscribers, 135K Instagram followers.

Gaming and technology

  • Tyler Blevins (Ninja): Gaming vlogger. 22.3M YouTube subscribers, 14.8M Instagram followers.
  • Mark Fischbach (Markiplier): Gaming and entertainment vlogger. 24.6M YouTube subscribers, 7.6M Instagram followers.
  • Lia Shelesh (SSSniperWolf): Gaming vlogger. 17.3M YouTube subscribers, 4.4M Instagram followers.
  • Lewis Hilsenteger (Unbox Therapy): Technology product vlogger. 15.8M YouTube subscribers, 2.2M Instagram followers.
  • Marques Brownlee: Technology product tester and vlogger. 9.9M YouTube subscribers, 2.3M Instagram followers.

Health and fitness

  • Kayla Itsines: Fitness vlogger and entrepreneur. 27.7M Facebook followers, 11.9M Instagram followers
  • Michelle Lewin: Personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur. 13.5M Instagram followers, 8.5M Facebook followers.
  • Anllela Sagra: Personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur. 11.3M Instagram followers, 1.2M Facebook followers.
  • Simeon Panda: Fitness vlogger and entrepreneur. 5.7M Instagram followers, 1.4M YouTube subscribers.
  • Cassey Ho (blogilates): Fitness vlogger and entrepreneur. 4.5M YouTube subscribers, 1.5M Instagram followers.

Home and parenting

  • Meg Resnikoff and Elle Walker (WhatsUpMoms): Parenting vloggers. 2.8M YouTube subscribers, 128K Instagram followers.
  • Amber Fillerup Clark: Lifestyle vlogger and entrepreneur. 1.4M Instagram followers, 227K YouTube subscribers.
  • Latham Thomas (glowmaven): Doula, entrepreneur and author. 93K Instagram followers, 14K Twitter followers.
  • Sally Kuzemchak (realmomnutrition): Dietitian, author and blogger. 48.5K Facebook followers, 17.5K Instagram followers.
  • Leticia Barr (techsavvymama): Tech and parenting blogger. 24.7K Twitter followers, 10.1K Instagram followers.

Travel

  • Louis Cole (FunForLouis): Travel vlogger. 2M YouTube subscribers, 1.2M Instagram followers.
  • Chris Burkard: Photographer and director. 3.5M Instagram followers, 440K Facebook followers.
  • Will Dasovich: Travel and lifestyle vlogger. 2.3M YouTube subscribers, 743K Instagram followers.
  • The Bucket List Family: Travel bloggers/vloggers. 1.9M Instagram followers, 922K YouTube subscribers.
  • Jennifer Tuffen (izkiz): Travel and lifestyle blogger. 2.8M Instagram followers, 8.3K Facebook followers.

Quality over quantity: Why follower count isn't everything

While the above influencers do have massive followings on social media, you shouldn't necessarily discount micro-influencers (1,000 to 100,000 followers) or even nano-influencers (less than 1,000 followers) for your brand. Many brands, including Rooftop Cinema Club, have found great success with influencers who have smaller, but very highly engaged audiences.

"For us it's about their engagement rate rather than follower count," said Couling. "It's important to know their followers care about what they share. We’ve found those who have already engaged with [our brand] are more likely to share quality content that will resonate."

Couling recommends selecting influencers based on the following criteria:

  • They understand, value and appreciate your brand.
  • They are within your core demographic.
  • Their brand and audience are a good "fit" and align with yours.

When it comes time to approach the influencer about working with your brand, Couling says it's important to offer them something of value. Then, provide clear guidelines and criteria for what you expect in return (e.g. posting, engaging and sharing).

"Work with them, too," Couling added. "Be flexible in finding offers that are enticing for their followers."

For more influencer marketing tips, check out our guide to finding and working with influencers.

[Read: 3 Things You Need to Know About Influencer Marketing]

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Published January 02, 2020