What is Influencer Marketing?

If you’ve been in the marketing and/or business game long enough, you may have heard of the term “influencer marketing”. Influencers seem to everywhere and anywhere in today’s world, especially on social platforms like Instagram. It’s not hard to see why they generate so much buzz.

With their beautiful lifestyle pictures, product hauls, and latest fashion features, influencers have earned their place as a profitable marketing channel for brands. This type of marketing is called influencer marketing, where content creators with large followings are used to drive conversations and interest on a brand’s products and/or services.

And it’s not expected to go away any time soon. Influencer marketing is slated to grow more than double their 2017 figures, and possibly become a $6.5 billion dollar industry.

But there’s more to influencer marketing than just pretty pictures and a product shoutout on a caption. On this blog, we detail what qualities make up influencers and whether they’re worth investing in. 

What is an influencer?

An influencer is, essentially, a social media user that has between several hundred to several million followers on their social platform. They fuel discussions on a particular product or service and  may encourage their users to try or look into the brand they are promoting. Primary examples of influencers are Youtube celebrities PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) and Emma Chamberlain—both of which have amassed a large following due to their engaging content.

Why are digital influencers on the rise?

Traditional marketing often used celebrities like movie stars or sports figures to promote a brand’s message and/or products. However, in today’s world, more brands are moving away from these mainstream celebrities and moving towards social content creators. 

Take popular fashion brands like Fashion Nova and Zara as direct examples. In the case for Fashion Nova, the brand has reached success and profitability due to its network of at least 3,000 fashion influencers, which includes big-name celebrities like singer/rapper Cardi B. Zara also achieved this through organic mentions from its own community of influencersthis earned the company $59 million in Earned Media Value in early 2018. 

Other long-established brands like Nike and Redbull have also used influencers to their advantage, and in unique ways. Both brands lean towards building relationships and facilitating collaborations with both macro (big-name) influencers and micro (small-name) influencers. According to FN, Nike stands as one of the top 5 brands with the most EMV in 2019. 

The reason for the rise in digital influencers is clear: digital influencers share content that is valuable, interesting, and user-generated. These creators can be anyone and anywhere. Usually, these creators start off and continue to appear as just an average person. This relatability makes them seem more genuine and friendly than a TV star or singer, leading to a large number of likes, shares, and comments.

This engagement and trust with a specific audience is what marketers are after. 

What isn’t considered influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing isn’t just paying a creator to say positive things about your product and/or service. The influencers you search for should be ones with a reputation within their industry and have built their brand and following. 

You should also focus on establishing your own credibility to earn the trust of your influencer’s followers. You can do this by starting off your search with a specific influencer in your brand’s niche or industry. Popularity alone is not enough to encourage your follower’s into performing an action.

What does a successful influencer campaign look like?

A successful influencer campaign generally contains 3 important elements: specified goals, the right influencers, and performance tracking. Each of these elements ensure that your efforts are going in the right direction with acquiring interest and meeting the objective you want. 

1. Specified influencer goals

A highly important element, a brand should always consider their goals for all their marketing campaigns and strategies. With influencer marketing, all angles should be considered. What do you hope to accomplish with an influencer? Boost your product sales? Increase website traffic? Generate buzz about new product? Brand awareness? Whatever your goals are, you will have a pretty good idea of how you want audiences to engage with your brand through your influencer.

2. The right influencers for your brand

An important aspect of a successful campaign is finding the right influencer that has the audience you want. It’s also essential that you cultivate a relationship with your influencer, rather than just see them as a quick payout for your brand. The influencer you choose should produce content that is clearly aligned with your brand’s personality and message. It is crucial for the content to be genuine and authentic in order to gain rapport from the influencer’s loyal following.

3. Effective performance tracking

As with any campaign, measuring your influencer campaign’s performance is critical to determining whether you’ve reached your goals. It can be challenging to measure and track return on investment (ROI) across multiple social channels, but not impossible. You can measure engagement by the number of likes, comments, and shares a post with your brand or product receives. You may also track conversions with sales, followers and email newsletter sign-ups while a campaign is running. 

What is the future for influencer marketing?

Millennials and Generation Z have shown to continually gravitate towards social media platforms for their source of entertainment and gaining information. Because of this, influencers in various prominent and small industries will continue to grow in relevance. 

If you own a business, this may mean leveraging between micro influencers (those with less than 10,000 followers) and macro influencers (those with 250,000 followers or more). According to tinuiti, more focus and value will likely be placed on micro influencers as macro influencers become more costly. 

Influencer marketing is a relatively new compared to other forms of marketing. And while it may seem like a temporary fad, it’s not going anywhere any time soon. To further hone in your audience and reach your business goals, you may find that influencer marketing is a great addition to your overall marketing strategy.