Influencer marketing is now a mainstream form of online marketing. It has been a buzzword for a while now, and the mainstream media regularly refers to it. Yet, there are still people who don’t really understand what influencer marketing is all about. Indeed, some people come across the phrase for the first time and instantly ponder.
Influencers, unlike celebrities, can be anywhere. They can be anyone. What makes them influential is their large followings on the web and social media. An influencer can be a popular fashion photographer on Instagram, or a well-read cybersecurity blogger who tweets, or a respected marketing executive on LinkedIn. Within any industry, there are influential people—you just have to find them. Some will have hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of followers. But many will seem more like ordinary people. They may only have 10,000 followers, less in some cases. Yet, they will have developed a reputation for being the experts in their field. They are the go-to people who provide the answers to people’s questions. Depending on their sphere of expertise, they are the people who make the most engaging social posts on their specialist topics. They share the best pictures, make the most entertaining videos, and run the most informative online discussions.
With traditional social media marketing, a brand can set up its identity on whatever platform it chooses, and as time passes and its follower bases grow, it can see who its brand champions are. These are the customers who like and share content or mention the brand itself in a post. Followers like these can be further nurtured through personal attention and as part of a highly segmented group of all the brand champions. Efforts to market to this group focus on ways to keep them spreading the word.
One problem with this approach is that some of a brand’s followers just don’t have enough followers themselves to make much impact. In fact, most ordinary people on social networks don’t. Most people have a small network of maybe a few hundred friends and associates representing all kinds of tastes and preferences. Meanwhile, brands struggle to curate and create content that they hope will resonate with their followers in some meaningful way while staying engaged with day-to-day interactions.