When you hear the words “influencer marketing” do you feel like your dog who’s head nod says, “I want to understand you desperately right now, but I have no idea what you are saying”?
You aren’t the only one. Influencer marketing is becoming accepted more rapidly, but it is still a mystery to many.
Amidst the hundreds of articles I’ve written over the past year on influencer marketing, topics ranging from influencer strategy, how to run your own influencer campaign, what not to do, which influencers to leverage and how do do it, all of them touch upon influencer marketing basics. These articles narrow in on one aspect of this booming industry, but today we will get to the heart of the matter and break down the basics of influencer marketing.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing, by definition, is a niche marketing strategy used by brands who take advantage of today’s social media landscape and the power of word of mouth. Specifically, influencer marketing is when companies leverage social media influencers’ audiences to promote their brand and products.
Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.
Influencer Marketing: The Basics
Let’s demystify this concept so you don’t go around scratching your head anymore wondering what exactly these terms and practices are all about. In fact, by the end of this article, you will be able to describe them to others and be a mini-expert on the topic.
- Influence marketing
- Word of mouth marketing – also known as WOMM
- Social media marketing – also known as SMM. Influencer marketing is a niche within SMM
- The Influencers
- Influencer Agencies
- The Audience
Brands are the players who benefit most from WOMM. Companies face incredible challenges reaching their target audience given today’s consumer landscape. For some reasons – the increase in online and mobile purchasing, a shift in consumer mindset to one of connection and social causes, the new generations’ unique processes for making purchase decisions – it turns out that the majority of consumers today are hesitant to take buying recommendations from brands. Nielsen found that 92% of buyers are willing to take recommendations from friends, family, and even strangers over companies.
This statistic, often thrown around often in the marketing industry, is one brand could benefit from working into their marketing strategy. How exactly is that done? Simple, hire someone else to do your bidding for you. In other words, pay someone who has “influence” in your particular niche industry to promote your company, products, and services.
2. The Influencers
Influencers are the key to this entire picture. Let’s talk about who they are and why they are so powerful.
Micro-influencers are the social media heart of influencer marketing, in a sense. They are the folks who have a substantial yet manageable following. Micro-influencers often attract a local audience and become icons in their community. These qualities are what allow them to have such an influence over their audience.
Micro-influencers aren’t necessarily your friends and family, but they are likely to be the popular yoga teacher in town whose class you love going to, the head of your Zumba charter, a famous sports coach in your city, a local newscaster, or a local politician. These are people who influence your community, may not be massively popular on a great scale, but they matter in their circle. These micro-influencers have grown into powerful assets for brand marketing campaigns.
In comparison, we often hear about Celebrity Influencers in the news.
Celebrities were the original influencers, and as the marking and consumer industry evolved into a digital landscape, everyone adapted. Stars became influencers, holding high positions in the social media market with an inordinate amount of loyal followers. They were the first line of go-to brand influencers, hired to promote brand products via social media with smashing success.
In more recent time, social media personalities have risen as celebrities in their own right. Brittany Furlan got her start on Vine, Kate Upton fast-tracked her fame on YouTube, and Alex Lee is considered the “most unintentional Twitter star of all time.” These influencers and a slew of others started out small and grew over time until they skyrocketed to fame.
3. Influencer Agencies
Influencer agencies are the companies that pair up brands with influencers. More than that, if the companies are good at what they do, they manage the entire campaign from start to finish. Such agencies might be bare bones, offering brands a platform to utilize for running their campaign. On the other end of the spectrum are companies such as ours who piece together a fully customized campaign:
- At HireInfluence we pride ourselves on running campaigns that are all one-of-a-kind. We do not have any pre-packaged or canned campaigns to fit the needs of customers, because we know how crucial the details of a brand’s vision, voice, message, tactics, and campaign methodology are, and that they will change from one campaign to the next.
- Our primary focus is to bring brands our 7-Step, Results-Driven Process, which is a highly organized, managed, and documented environment designed to have an impressive, conversion-focused impact. Why? We know the one thing that matters at the end of the day, and at the end of your campaign, are the results.
An influencer’s audience is the final piece of the puzzle. Without an audience none of this matters – they make the world (of consumer marketing) go ’round. Influencers attract particular people based on their niche focus. For example, a wildlife photographer catches the attention of people interested in nature, animals, photography, beautiful images, etc. This photographer cultivates a niche audience based on her own interests – say it is elephants. Brands who need to connect with consumers to sell their “Save The Elephants T-Shirts.” We can’t get much more accurate than that. This photographer who specializes in elephant photography would be a great influencer for the “Save The Elephant T-Shirt” company to hire in a marketing campaign. Why? This influencer’s audience follows her because they love her photos of elephants! Chances are, they will also appreciate Save The Elephants T-Shirts. At a minimum, this particular company is connecting with an extremely niche audience which has been slowly cultivated over time. The brand didn’t have to do anything to build that audience or find these particular consumers. All this brand has to do is hire the influencer to promote their t-shirts.
Boom, influencer marketing at work.