What Is an Influencer

What Is an Influencer and What Are They Good For?

What Is an Influencer?

An influencer is a person who has the power to impact the purchasing decisions of others due to their celebrity, knowledge, or relationship with their audience. Most influencers create content in a specific niche, which can impact the size of their audience. For example, many people are beauty or fashion influences — or both. Many years of dealing with products from a certain industry even make some of them industry experts.

While influencers have existed for decades, social media has facilitated what is known as influencer marketing. Companies that wish to spread the word about their products or services can work with influencers, some of whom may work exclusively with those companies as brand ambassadors. In this way, they constantly increase brand awareness.

What Are Influencers Good For?

Online influencer marketing started over a decade ago with bloggers, many of whom were moms, providing reviews and giveaways in exchange for free products or services. This exposed the blog readers to a company with which they may not have been previously exposed or more intimately familiarizing readers with a company through a personalized blog post.

Bloggers worked diligently to build, maintain, and promote their websites to establish themselves as influencers, often utilizing other social networks to expand their reach. Throughout the years, many bloggers honed their photography skills.

Although so-called “Mommy bloggers” are less common influencers than they once were, and much of influencer marketing has moved away from blogs, the idea that influencers must remain real and vulnerable has persisted. This leads from questioning, “What is an influencer?” to “Where can I find influencers?”

Currently, you can see examples of influencer marketing on Facebook and Twitter, and even podcasts can also be a target for it. Much of it, however, has moved to multimedia services such as Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube, which allow content creators to showcase a product visually to their target audiences. Even TikTok becomes more and more interesting for this.

For many people, however, Instagram has become synonymous with influencer marketing and its users with influencers. The image-sharing site is the perfect way to catch the ever-waning attention span of the average social media user. Additionally, users can browse content from thousands of social media influencers without having to follow their blogs individually. Instagram influencers can accrue thousands or even millions of followers, which makes them valuable to companies and marketers, and they may be able to make a living through influencer marketing alone.

Micro vs Macro Influencers

Because these followings can vary so much in size, it can be helpful to split influences into groups. There is no general standard for categorization, but we define the different types of influencers as follows:

(Nano Influencers)

1 — 1,000 followers. Ordinary people, whose followers are mostly friends and family. This group of influencers gets little to no attention, since running a campaign with this group would mean a lot of management effort. However, these people often have the highest engagement rates and trust levels among their followers. Therefore, large-scale campaigns with nano influencers could potentially be interesting for brands. The Coovy app allows businesses to engage nano influencers easily.

Micro

Micro influencers connect with a following greater than 1,000 people but fewer than (more or less) 50,000.

Macro

Macro influencers have amassed a network between 50,000 and 1 million people strong and may be celebrities influencers.

Mega

Mega influencers have at last 1 million followers and are often celebrities whose claim to fame lies outside of the Internet (e.g. acting or music career).

Advantages of micro-influencers are:

  • High engagement rates and trust from followers and proximity to their audience
  • Can therefore also provide more insights about the target group
  • Cost-effective creation and posting of content
  • More location flexibility (not limited to one location)
  • The influencer’s engagement and effort during the campaign is generally higher

Marketing with nano or micro influencers is considered very effective, but very difficult to manage. Our platform allows you to easily carry out large-scale automated campaigns with micro influencers.

A larger following typically qualifies a social media influencer for more prestigious and profitable opportunities. For example, mega-influencers may receive up to $1 million per social media post. However, some people recognize a group of influencers known as nano-influencers who may engage with a smaller audience but are considered experts in their fields.

These opportunities may be agreed upon between the business itself and the influencer, but many marketing companies exist solely to connect influencers with products and services to promote. According to various case studies and recent reports (e.g. the benchmark reports of the Influencer Marketing Hub), most marketers of well-known brands have already used influencer marketing tools. The vast majority consider this type of digital marketing to be very useful.

What Is an Influencer Risking When Working with Brands?

Woman sitting on bed and explaining what is an influencer

While the benefits extend two ways, there are risks of influencer marketing. An influencer’s audience and even unsuspecting consumers who come across sponsored content may not recognize it as such (e.g. sponsored post). Furthermore, because influencers may not be professionals or be accustomed to communicating with the public, they may mislead their followers, unintentionally or otherwise.

The Federal Trade Commission has stepped in to require influencers in social media marketing to disclose when a company sponsors content and to avoid making false claims about a product or service. Influencers must include appropriate disclosures in blog posts, status updates, and photo and video uploads to their social networks.

There has also been pushback from audiences for influencers to be more authentic in their content. This has led to an increase in influencer posts that paints the influencer in a light that is intended to be revealing and honest but may bet yet another carefully-honed image. Amid product placements, influencers have managed to successfully encourage discussion about disabilities, mental health, and social inequality, among other topics. And their followers are ready to engage. (Could this be a new trend: influencer marketing for socially good purposes?)

However, some consumers remain nonplussed by the fact that influencers are exchanging their followers’ attention for financial and other perks. Studies find that Gen Z users tend not to care if content is marked as sponsored. Perhaps they have more faith in the influencers whom they follow, many of whom cultivate relationships with their audiences. Members of Gen Z are also less likely to have experienced or remember an Internet before influencer marketing was as big as it is now. To them, this is just how things are.

Yet Generation Z isn’t the sole constituency of the Internet, and we’ve seen plenty of cases of an influencer’s followers turning on them after a misstep — a bigoted or abusive comment, for example. While influencer marketing can be so effective because consumers who receive those messages have chosen to opt into content created and shared by their favorite influencers and are therefore receptive to the messages, those same consumers can choose to opt-out at any time.

What Does It Mean for the Future of Influencer Marketing?

Most marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing efforts in the coming years. There are influencer niches that remain mostly overlooked. While brands tend to focus on influencers who are young and beautiful — or both — their buying power and authority could be invaluable to brands. The Influencer Marketing Hub predicts in the new “The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report” a clear trend away from marketing with bigger influencers, towards more micro influencer campaigns.

However, influencer marketing isn’t surefire for either brands or influencers. For every successful influencer who manages to build their brand, make a living, and form lasting relationships with a company, there are thousands who failed to find success in the influencer world. The turnover of agencies whose sole purpose is to connect brands with influencers has also been shockingly high. For brands, too, it’s easy to expend time, money, and efforts on the wrong campaigns or influencers, even if those influencers are just a poor match for the brand.

For those companies and influencers who can make it work, through a mix of hard work, ingenuity, and luck, influencer marketing can offer great rewards.

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