What Makes an Influencer an Influencer

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Broadly speaking, an influencer is anyone who can cause a reaction or impacts the way people feel and think about things. Some people are seen as influencers when they’re a trusted source of information or an authoritative figure within a market. Others are deemed influencers if they’ve collected a large online following.

In the world of marketing, influencers are taking on a new role when it comes to the promotion of a brand, product or service, edging out more traditional forms of advertising. So what makes an influencer an influencer, and why are companies so interested in them?

Who can be an influencer?

A thought leader, a trendsetter, an expert in their field, a blogger, a celebrity… Practically anyone can become an influencer, as long as they hold credibility and have a niche audience.

Whilst there are certainly many figures with a strong offline presence who are considered influencers, it is those with a large online following which have caught the attention of digital marketers.

The immersion of such a wide range of social media channels has provided more ways than ever to reach out, persuade, and influence others, so it’s no wonder that influencers have become an integral part of content marketing.

It has become clear that consumers place trust in other consumers more than they do in brands, which is one of the reasons influencers can have such a large impact on brand awareness and sales.

Purchase guidance through social media

Essentially, social media influencers are taking over the original form of celebrity endorsements. However, it’s important that the audience of a paid brand ambassador believes there is a connection to the brand in order to show results, as promoting brands en masse is likely to decrease credibility and affect the success of marketing campaigns.

Influencer marketing offers a younger, fresher, digital option which seems to be phasing out traditional TV and radio adverts, with research showing over half of American companies now have a stand-alone budget for sponsored social media campaigns.

Almost 40% of Twitter users reported they made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer Tweet, and it is estimated that brands are spending well over a billion dollars per year on Instagram influencers alone.

Increased brand awareness

Collaborating with social media influencers is becoming one of the fastest ways to increase brand awareness and drive sales. A single post from an influencer with an engaged audience matching your target market can drive copious amounts of traffic to your landing page or profile.

Should an influencer campaign aim to populate as many social media channels as possible? Well, that depends greatly on the objectives of a campaign. One channel may serve much better than another, such as using Instagram or Pinterest for brands aiming for visual discovery.

Some influencers have a strong following across a variety of channels, whilst others focus mainly on one. Finding the right person to collaborate with will depend on each campaign strategy.

What to look for in an influencer

If you think influencer marketing could be a good option to promote your business, there are several points to consider before reaching out to a potential influencer, as a large following alone is simply not enough to go on.

It’s imperative that the influencer’s posts align with your brand’s tone, style, and mission, and that their audience is engaged and relevant to your particular market segment

For instance, asking a food blogger to create a post about sporting equipment is unlikely to create a buzz and fulfill the campaign’s objectives, as their audience will likely be outside your target market.

An additional thing to look for is someone who is constantly working to gain the trust of their followers, producing and sharing great-quality content across a variety of channels, and gaining a reaction from their audience.

Micro influencers (usually considered to be people with between 10.000 and 100.000 followers) should not be overlooked, as they tend to have a higher engagement with their audience than big celebrities do, and can offer a better return on investment.

Creative campaigns

Influencer campaigns vary greatly from brand to brand. Some businesses are interested in a single post from an influencer to boost their following or increase traffic to their landing page. Others may opt for a longer partnership involving the creation of unique posts and videos over a period of time.

Working with influencers allows for maximum creativity when it comes to forming a new campaign, so including them in the creation process is a great way for both parties to gain maximum benefits from the partnership.

There are many different ways to promote a brand, product, or service through working with influencers, including; product reviews, sponsored blog posts written by the influencer, social sponsorship through different channels, creating value-added content, personal stories about the product, videos, etc.

Connecting with influencers

As the world of influencer marketing is expanding, so are the tools which help connect businesses to potential brand ambassadors. Influencer marketplaces are thriving and can be used for relationship management, measuring influence, automating and streamlining activities, and identifying influencers in your topic.

Some are specific to certain channels such as Twitter or YouTube, whilst others offer extensive information on influencers which can be filtered by parameters such as location, reach, and authenticity and engagement.

With so many platforms to choose from, it’s never been easier to find just the right match for your brand and target market.

In summary

Influencers have become a valuable addition to content marketing thanks to their power to engage with consumers. Social media channels have become the go-to place for people to seek purchase guidance, providing ample opportunities for brands to increase their awareness, expand their own following, and capitalize on the recommendation of other consumers.

The term “influencer” is extremely broad and can describe anyone who causes a reaction in others or impacts the way they feel about something. Whether it be “follow this person”, “buy that”, or “go here”, influencer marketing has become an effective advertising method which many B2C brands (and a growing number of B2B) are adopting.

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