Influencer marketing actually does work, according to a new study released today, April 5. The Linqia study, “The Value of Influencer Marketing 2017,” found that 86% of marketers use it to fuel their content marketing strategies. Meanwhile, 88.5% using influencer marketing have found that it’s a valuable part of their content marketing plans.

What is influencer marketing?

The TapInfluence platform defines influencer marketing as “using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market.” Companies find influencers, i.e., people with large followings on social media. They pay these influencers (in cash or product) to promote their products. The idea is for the influencers to spread the word in their own networks. This type of marketing usually goes hand-in-hand with social media marketing and content marketing.

Business to consumer (B2C) brands do this a lot. For example, a small company selling premium cloth diapers may identify “mom” bloggers with large followings and offer to send product to them in exchange for social posts and/or an honest review on their blogs.

Why does it work?

As the Linqia study found, most of the companies using influencer marketing consider it valuable. They reported spending 2.6 times less on average for content creation when they work with influencers. The influencers create the content for them, like blog posts and social media posts, which they can then re-post and promote. More than half of the respondents (57%) said that influencer content consistently outperforms brand-created content.

“According to McKinsey & Company, 15 to 20 percent of marketing spend can be released through better marketing return on investment (MROI) efforts, striking a more efficient balance between non-working marketing spend and working marketing spend,” said Nader Alizadeh, co-founder and CEO of Linqia, in a press release. “When marketers choose to run influencer marketing programs as media, they become 100% working marketing spend, maximizing ROI for the brand.”

That’s a fancy way of saying the influencers do a lot of consumer-facing work that the company can skip. And the work influencers do inspires consumers to act because people trust other people more than they trust brands or celebrities. Marketers choose to work with influencers because they’re relevant to their target audience (73% of respondents). They also like the influencers’ authenticity and trusted voice (72%) and their ability to spark audience engagement (60%).

After influencers create their content, 66% of respondents then repurpose influencer content on other digital channels, most often social media (84%). They also use influencer content on paid social media (72%), website and product pages (50%), and in email marketing (40%).

For companies, it’s worthwhile to consider influencer marketing because of the ROI and content.