Influencer Marketing: Brief Summary
Influencer marketing, also known as influence marketing, is a strategy where marketing efforts are targeted towards individuals or brands who have some degree of influence over potential customers. For example, a blogger, a vlogger, a journalist, an academic, or an expert or thought leader on social media could all be classed as influencers.
As a concept, it is broadly linked to ideas like word of mouth marketing and testimonial advertising, although it is not entirely synonymous with them. Ultimately, influencer marketing is intended to drive action, rather than spread awareness, which is why marketers try to target influencers that have a contextual fit to their brand.
Influencer Marketing: Detailed Summary
For marketing companies and brands, influencer marketing provides an opportunity to distribute promotional content to appropriate audiences, through other individuals or brands who have the potential to influence consumer behaviour. This is achieved by targeting influencers, rather than a more general audience.
While many of the basic principles behind influencer marketing, such as word of mouth marketing, have existed for decades, the concept of influencer marketing itself has grown in popularity in more recent times, thanks to the increased popularity of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, as well as online blogs.
An influencer is simply a person or brand that is able to influence a particular audience, because they have a certain status or level of credibility. Sometimes referred to as thought leaders, they may include journalists, academics, researchers, bloggers, video content creators, SEO agencies and B2B marketers.
Based on this, it stands to reason that influencer marketing can reach its eventual target audience through various mediums, including blog posts, social media posts, online articles and video content. Blogging is perhaps the most common medium and research from Technorati shows that 86 of influencers operate at least one blog.
There are two main types of influencer marketing: paid influencer marketing and earned influencer marketing.
Paid influencer marketing, as the name suggests, refers to a practice where content is promoted by the influencer on a paid basis. This may take the form of paid testimonials, sponsorship or things like pre-roll video advertising, where short promotional videos are played before the influencer’s own content is shown to viewers.
On the other hand, earned influencer marketing is an unpaid form of influencer marketing, which relies on pre-existing relationships with third parties. In many cases, the influencers in these situations share content because they believe it will be of genuine worth to their audience, which will enhance their own standing as well.
Marketers may have a number of objectives in mind when adopting an influencer marketing strategy, including increasing visibility, enhancing SEO efforts through link-building, and generating awareness. However, ultimately, the technique is intended to drive actions, such as website visits, membership sign ups and product purchases.
Advantages of influencer marketing include its cost-effectiveness, its potential to link to other digital marketing types, such as SEO, and its ability to reach a more specific niche audience. This means that advertising efforts can be more carefully focused on key demographics, such as people of a certain age, or with certain interests.
In terms of disadvantages, it can be time consuming to identify specific influencers and they are only likely to promote products, services or brands that they genuinely believe in, because they are putting their own reputation at stake. To get around these issues, many marketers focus their efforts on existing business contacts, or use blogger outreach tools to carefully identify highly valuable influencers with access to the right audience.
What Makes Someone An Influencer?
One of the most important aspects of successful influencer marketing involves actually identifying influencers who can help marketers or brands by driving actions. It is also essential that marketers understand that the influencers they choose need to be able to reach an audience that is relevant to them.
Essentially, what this means is that a person may be extremely valuable as an influencer to one brand, but have very little value to another brand, because their area of expertise or their existing audience may not match. For this reason, influencers need to be identified individually, and personal networks are usually a good starting point.
Nevertheless, there are some basic traits that marketers look out for when attempting to identify influencers:
- Context – Does the influencer have an obvious connection to the product, service or brand? Are they a relevant source of information for the target market that advertisers want to reach?
- Audience – How many social media followers do they have? What is the age range of their followers? How many views does their website or blog attract? Are they able to reach key demographics?
- Online Activity – What sort of content do they produce or publish? How often are they active? What is their primary medium? Do they operate on additional platforms that may be of value?
- Credibility – Do they have a particular area of expertise? What makes them stand out? Why are they respected? Do they have great qualifications? Are they highly successful in a specific field? Do they have unique ideas?
Once a person or brand has been identified as a valuable influencer by marketers, they are usually contacted personally and marketers will attempt to build a meaningful relationship with them. However, some influence marketers turn to agencies or other online services, and this is especially common with paid influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing relies upon well-connected, credible ‘influencers’, who can help by promoting a product, service or brand to their own established audience. It has emerged as an increasingly popular method of digital marketing since the emergence of social networking sites and thanks to the increased prevalence of online blogging.
Through influencer marketing, companies can reach a specific niche audience in a cost-effective way, often with greater subtlety than they would through more traditional methods. Influencers are defined as people or brands who have the ability to shape behaviour, and may include bloggers, journalists, academics or marketing agencies.