The numbers for digital sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been released and they are astounding – $3.45B on Friday and $3.39B on Monday, both significant increases from a year ago. Shoppers were set to click their way to the best bargains of the year.

So, what drove the increased online sales in 2016? Better deals? Convenience? Eating too much turkey and preferring to order in your underwear from the couch? Or could it be the way in which brands marketed themselves this year, with a heavy digital push to attract the glut of shoppers that can be touched through social media and their mobile devices, through influencers that can drive purchases?

According to a new Markerly data study, influencer marketing was a significant tool utilized by brands this year, with a ~3.4X increase in influencer campaigns logged heading into the shopping holiday. The study compared Instagram posts from October 15, 2016 through November 25, 2016 (Black Friday) with posts from the same time in 2015, searching specifically for the hashtag #blackfriday.

The results are impressive – influencer marketing campaigns realized a 22% increase in comments (on average) from a year ago, and a 200% increase in likes when comparing this year to last. As we’ve seen in the past, consumers that are willing to follow and engage with influencers are more likely to make purchases that are presented to them through those channels.

Brands that utilized influencer marketing will surely see ROI on their campaigns, and we fully expect dedicated budgets for influencer marketing to continue to grow heading into 2017.