Influencer marketing involves the marketing of products and services to those who have the authority or selling power over the things other people buy. It can be “loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers.” (Forbes). Moreover, it is a marketing practice based on collaboration between brands and “social influencers across social platforms such as YouTube and Instagram to promote their products through branded content.” (Guardian).
Who are Influencers?
In this form of marking, rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, on its own, a company enlists others – influencers – to get out the word for it. These influencers do not commonly consist of existing customers of a brand, and instead, are influencers, such as bloggers or social media figures. As distinct from other forms of marketing, influencer marketing consists of influencers that are almost always paid in some way, either with money or free products.
Brands “often look at number of followers that identity has on social platforms” when identifying “influencers.” (Forbes). Platforms like Instagram and YouTube, among others, have given rise to a new generation of influencers who maintain huge followings on niche subject matters such as fashion, beauty, and food. “One such example is Michelle Phan who started a series of YouTube videos featuring simple make-up demonstrations and tutorials. More important than her follower count is the personal brand she has been able to build. Michelle Phan has become a cosmetics authority that many consumers have come to trust” (Forbes). As a result, she is a commonly cited “influencer” in the beauty field.
What does Influencer Marketing Consist Of?
While traditional marketing tactics involved pushing out brand content with little focus on creating conversations, new campaigns tap influencers to engage with consumers and create brand loyalty among them.
It opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers more directly, more organically, and at scale. By creating branded content with social media influencers, brands can amplify their message while seducing their target audience. (Adweek)
Influencer Marketing, as increasingly practiced in a commercial context, consist of four main activities:
1. Identifying influencers, and ranking them in order of importance.
2. Marketing to influencers, to increase awareness of the firm within the influencer community.
3. Marketing through influencers, using influencers to increase market awareness of the firm amongst target markets, and
4. Marketing with influencers, turning influencers into advocates of the firm.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing
1. Influencers create a sense of authenticity and provide relevance to a brand’s product without feeling phony. Influencers will show how a brand fits into their everyday life, compared to a brand telling the consumer why it should be part of their life.
2. Influencers offer new audiences. For established brands, influencer marketing can be a boon, since one of the objectives of content marketing is to help draw the attention of new and different audiences. Influencers help brands do just that by using an influencer’s social currency and audience trust.
3. Marketers need to differentiate their content market strategies to capture the eyes of consumers. Social influencers offer the creativity, experience and a built-in audience that can help brands engage with both existing and new consumers. (B2C).