Influencer marketing is on fire right now.
According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations.
“49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations.” – Digital Marketing Institute
Influencer marketing is both extremely approachable to the influencer who gets paid for it and highly valuable for the business who gets to tap into their network of followers.
We’re going to be talking a little bit about this today.
In addition, we’re going to discuss where influencer marketing came from.
Here’s a hint: We’ve been doing it long before social media came into existence!
But first, let’s define what “influencer marketing” actually is (so we’re on the same page).
What Is Influencer Marketing?
When someone uses the term, “influencer,” what comes to mind?
Most of us think of a young, hip 20-something who regularly shares her latest lifestyle choices on Instagram–everything from food to clothing to travel to friends.
Influencer marketing does traditionally take place on social media and an influencer is, in fact, someone who stays on top of popular trends.
However, there are many common misconceptions about what influencer marketing is and how it works.
A person can be influential in many, different aspects of life:
- Some influencers are moms.
- Others are blacksmiths.
- Still others are computer nerds.
- Some influencers talk about politics.
- Others test new children’s toys.
- Still others write music.
For just about any topic a person can be interested in, you can find someone who specializes in that sphere of influence and they come from a variety of ages and stages of life.
“For just about any topic a person can be interested in, you can find someone who specializes in that sphere of influence and they come from a variety of ages and stages of life.”
Because of this, influencer marketing can work for just about any business in just about any industry, though there are some industries for which influencer marketing works better than others.
One of the best ways to understand influencer marketing is to go back to where it all began.
Influencer Marketing Over the Decades
In 1941, the world’s first TV commercial aired in the U.S.
It was for Bulova Watch Co., a Swiss watch company that captivated the American mind with their marketing.
The commercial featured a voiceover, the very first example of a TV spokesperson for a brand.
It cost a total of just $9.
Almost 20 years prior, the world’s first radio advertisement had broadcast in the U.S. for an apartment development in New York.
It also featured a voice actor. This was the first example of a radio spokesperson.
The advertisement cost a total of $50.
Today, top TV actors, including the likes of Flo from Progressive, make millions of dollars for their efforts, a far cry from the wages some of the first TV and radio spokespeople collected.
But influencer marketing is much older than radio and TV.
In the Middle Ages, everyone wanted to have their swords made by the blacksmith of the king.
In the late 1800s, brand ambassadors began to appear.
In the 1900s, brands began to experiment with fictional, animated characters and everyday people to promote their products and services.
Over time, influencers have come by a variety of names:
But all of them perform the same function: To put an influential face, name, or voice behind a brand.
The Benefits of Influencer Marketing
Why is influencer marketing so popular?
Because it works.
As a wise man once said, “The basis of every relationship is trust.”
It can be hard to trust someone you don’t know when they tell you they are going to do something for you in exchange for your money.
Reviews help, but most people prefer to find out about a business by a word-of-mouth recommendation from a family member or friend.
However, this is an extremely slow way to grow a customer base.
The internet has made the transfer of information so much faster.
So how do you tap into this speed without neglecting to establish a trusting relationship with your customers?
An influencer already has a relationship with their followers, so when they recommend your brand, that recommendation works just like word-of-mouth.
Influencer marketing is highly effective because it allows you, the business owner, to tap a particular person’s entire network of devoted fans–and not just any person, but the most popular person in your topic space.
Influencers are also particularly popular among Millenials and Generation Z, making influencer marketing especially beneficial for brands trying to reach this demographic.
What It Takes to Become an Influencer Today
What makes a modern influencer, an influencer?
It really just comes down to how many followers they have.
An influencer is measured by the size of their sphere of influence relative to the industry they are influential in.
For example, in one industry you may find that the most popular influencer has over 500,000 followers.
You may also find that in this industry there are many micro-influencers who average around 50,000 followers each.
In another industry, however, you may be lucky to find one influencer with 2,000 followers.
Is this person still considered an influencer?
They can be.
It may be the case that this industry has a high-profit margin and capturing even just 1% of that follower base would be highly valuable.
With the dawn of the internet age, the everyday person can reach more of their fellow human beings than ever before.
The barrier to entry on influencer marketing is surprisingly low.
Digital marketing thought leader HubSpot recently published an article on 12 steps to becoming an influencer.
The thought process is that just about anyone can become an influencer in their industry if they make the right moves.
What are those moves? According to HubSpot (rephrased):
- Find a niche to focus on, including:
- Which topic you want to be influential in
- Who you want to influence in that topic space
- Think originally and don’t just copy current influencers in your arena
- Pick which social media platform you want to use to spread your influence
- Based on which platform your target audience uses the most
- Based on the format of content that best expresses your personality
- Create a content strategy that provides high-quality, valuable information
- Begin publishing your content based on when the platform is most active
- Experiment with posting tutorials for brands and products
- Try writing on LinkedIn or Medium if your target is business-to-business
- Grow your network of followers through blogging and boosting posts
- Interact with your followers via comments
- Track your progress as you grow your follower base
- Monitor social media algorithm updates and trends to stay current
- ABC – Always Be Consistent! With your content, that is
Becoming an influencer in the 21st century requires more diligent work and less elusive talent than ever before.
“Becoming an influencer in the 21st century requires more diligent work and less elusive talent than ever before.”
Truly anyone can become an influencer if they put their mind to it.
Thinking about becoming an influencer or using influencer marketing for your business?
As mentioned before, the data is in your favor.
Influencer marketing has long been a mainstay of an effective marketing mix.
It is also a fairly easy service to provide for the influencer and a beneficial relationship for the brand they promote.
If you are on the business side and you would like help connecting with an influencer in your industry, talk to us!
We have been working with influencers for years and we would love to get you in for a free consultation.