When you first created your Facebook profile, assigned your
Myspace top 8, sent your first tweet, or uploaded your Instagram
square, you probably had a sense that social media would change the
way you spent your time, communicated with others, and received
breaking news stories.
But as you signed up for your very first accounts or connected
with friends online for the first time, you may not have predicted
that a shift in the way we communicate online would also change the
way we form opinions about where to shop, what to buy, and whose
recommendations to trust.
And although the rise of influencer marketing happened virtually
overnight, it feels natural, like we’ve never known a world
without it. To go a step further, you may not even realize you’ve
been a target of influencer marketing, and that may very well be
the most successful part of this type of marketing.
In this article, we’ll explore what influencer marketing is,
how effective it can be, and what you can do to reap the benefits
for your own brand.
What is influencer marketing?
Rather than focusing on the marketing channel, such as email,
social media, paid search, or print advertising, or the target
audience, influencer marketing focuses on the people who could
potentially influence their following to become new customers of a
particular product or brand.
So while, yes, it’s Kim Kardashian posting a SnapChat about
her favorite athletic wear line or Kylie Jenner talking about her
new lip kits on Instagram, influencer marketing goes beyond just
those who are keeping up with the Kardashians. Influencer marketing
has consistently grown in almost every industry and across all
marketing channels, and, truth be told, we’re pretty positive
it’s here to stay.
DIFF charitable eyewear is a company known for using Instagram
influencers to its benefit. From recent stars from The Bachelor to
pageant contestants and fashion bloggers, DIFF’s social media
presence is largely filled with photos curated from the feeds of
influencers-turned-customers who review their product in exchange
for some type of reward. Many times, the benefit can be free
products, VIP privileges, or monetary payment.
DIFF’s social media feed reflects their influencer strategy,
featuring real people wearing their product.
How to identify an influencer
So, isn’t “influencer” just another name for a celebrity?
Yes and no. Because our online lives have opened us up to
connecting with more people who share our interests than ever
before, we can also follow along with others’ lives in a new
Gone are the days of limiting the term “celebrity” to only
popular musicians, actors, or writers. Now, as smaller niche
audiences gather across all media channels and turn to people they
idolize in their own field or industry, the term influencer
A survey from Nielsen showed only
33% of consumers trust advertisements, while 90% put their
faith in peer recommendations, which is why influencer marketing is
definitely something worth paying attention to.
Number of followers
There is no definitive scale to determine an influencer’s
status, but their number of followers is the first place to look.
Think about it: Never before have we had such accurate numbers for
one’s followers or reach. Before social media, we could measure a
person’s influence by box office numbers or albums sold, but none
of those statistics would come close to the precise measurement we
now have in a social media following.
And because social media appears to be a way to gain inside
access to the behind-the-scenes of stars’ work and personal
lives, it instantly feels more authentic than other mediums. We can
see beyond the stage or screen.
This image from Sprout
Social shows the types of people you may consider to be an
Finding an influencer in your industry
Influencers of all levels can be found in almost any industry.
Let’s say you run a business that focuses on email marketing (Can
you imagine?!). When brainstorming, you may come up with the
following ideas for who you could consider influencers:
- Entrepreneurs who send lots of emails to their customers
- Podcast hosts who talk about marketing
- Famous bloggers who send their content via newsletter
- Experts in other areas of marketing, such as social media
There’s no magic formula for finding an influencer for your
niche, but you want to find someone whose followers listen to them
and take their opinions seriously.
Micro and macro influencers
As the number of influencers continued to increase, we needed a
way to measure one’s influence, especially when compared to
others. While we all know the potential for this to change at any
moment, the categories micro and macro influencers have been
created as an unofficial way to differentiate various people with
moderate to large followings.
Social Media Today identifies micro influencers as those with
less than 10,000 followers and macro followers as those with more
While there’s still plenty of gray area when it comes to
differentiating between major and minor influencers, the emergence
of these terms shows that the number of influencers will continue
to expand and you can expect the effectiveness of influencer
marketing to grow with it.
As content creators get better and better, consumers will have
more choices for who to follow and how to spend time online. It
only makes sense that more niches will be created and therefore,
brands and consumers alike will have more influencers to look
Why influencer marketing works
Since everyone’s following grows over time, some people
believe that influencer marketing may be on the decline. But
influencer marketing is more than just the people doing it—the
authentic connections followers make with influencers is something
that, in one capacity or another, will continue to increase.
A trusted friend
Have you ever texted a friend for a recommendation for the next
book you should read or asked where she got the jacket she’s
wearing? Our personal connections can be our biggest motivators,
and we’re much more likely to choose one brand over another if a
friend or family member has given us input on a decision.
At its core, influencer marketing is the same thing. With or
without a real-life personal connection, we’ve specifically
chosen who to follow on social media and have grown accustomed to
seeing glimpses into their personal life. We trust them, which is
why we’re much more likely to buy something from their
already-vetted recommendation versus a paid ad for a product
we’ve never seen before.
Here’s an Instagram post by former Bachelor contestant JoJo
Fletcher on her favorite hair tools. She currently has 2.2 million
followers, making her a macro influencer.
Authenticity: The secret sauce
So, why exactly is influencer marketing so effective?
Because it feels more natural and trustworthy that traditional
As email marketers, we couldn’t stress the importance of
personalization enough, and we’re always trying to write messages
for people, not inboxes. But influencer marketing has also raised
the bar on
authenticity and custom messaging.
No longer will we blindly order something we receive a printed
ad for in the mail. We’ll probably look up its Amazon reviews,
ask friends how they feel about the product, or look to other
online experts we trust.
A study by Mediakix revealed
that the influencer market is currently worth over 1 billion
dollars, and this number is projected to soon double. But does this
mean these type of promotions will remain the same? Yes and no. We
predict that authenticity and trustworthiness, two tactics that
have far outlasted the rise of influencers, will remain the best
way to approach marketing, but as always, the mediums, channels,
and people involved will continue to evolve.
More and more influencers are making their full income from
their blog and social media, so as their experience rises, the more
likely they are to have working partnerships with brands. However,
this is an area where you should work hard to preserve
authenticity, rather than become just another sponsor of their
website or podcast. Keep it real!
One of the longest-running examples of influencer marketing is
Michael Jordan for Nike. Here’s influencer marketing at work in
an email marketing campaign for Air Jordans, named after the
basketball player himself:
Is influencer marketing a good choice for my brand?
As a whole, the influencer marketing concept is worth trying for
most brands, but how you do it is completely up to you. Unlike most
paid advertising strategies, the formulas to success are not
clear-cut, and the input and output can vary greatly for each
For example, you’re not always working with a set amount of
money: Now, influence and product have become their own forms of
currency. Create a strategy that casts a wide net of potential
influencers and hones in on the people who you’d most like to
represent your brand to new customers. Be sure that the influencers
you work with share the same values as your brand. Of course,
people are more unreliable than paid ads you write yourself, but
that’s the risk you take in the name of unfiltered
As you can see, influencer marketing isn’t just for large
brands who have connections with big-name celebrities. Even if
you’re an entrepreneur for a small business or feel like your
industry doesn’t have famous thought leaders, it’s definitely
worth the extra research and effort to explore.
And regardless of your partnership status with influencers,
trustworthiness and authenticity should be the focus of your
marketing strategy, regardless of brand, industry, or platform.
If you’re a brand looking to share customer testimonials or
influencer content with your audience via email, reach out to us
for a demo
Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
How Effective Is Influencer Marketing?