An influencer is someone on a social media site who has popularity via their following, thus has the ability to influence this following to buy something.
Instagram and Youtube are best known for influencers, but it is no longer limited to those two platforms. Snapchat and Tik Tok are seeing an increase in the influencer market.
The social media+consumerism= influencers. It is that simple.
The United States (and most capitalist countries) have seen a rise in consumerism over the decades. With this rise, came an increase in marketing and with the ubiquitous of social media came influencers.
The key to success of an influencer is authenticity. Consider which is more authentic:
An Instagram account of a twenty-something girl with thousands of followers.She has lush curly hair that always looks amazing. In many of her posts or stories she is showing her followers ways to embrace and elevate naturally curly hair. She has tricks on how to tie up curly hair at night so as not to ruin the curls. She shows how someone with curly hair and no bangs, can have bangs for a day. Then she starts using a specific hair product. Now some of her posts are about how this product can help curly haired women; she might not be getting paid, yet.
A commercial where Katie Piper, a English model, is walking down the street. The camera is on her silky bouncing hair. There is a voice over of her talking about how Pantene keeps her hair smooth and let’s her feel in control.
Which of these ads is more believable? Do famous people really use Pantene? Probably not. Most people assume the rich and the famous use products the average person cannot afford and have professional stylists all of the time. But that girl with the Instagram account. She is real.
Younger generations have become skeptical of the powerful, the rich and the famous. They also spend a significant amount of time on social media, using it for information sourcing, networking and entertainment. Thus, the rise of the influencer.
The future of Influencers
In the early days of influencers, they usually started promoting products for free hoping to get noticed by the company. Influencers would work up a big following on social media by being pretty, funny, interesting or informative, and then they would promote a product, tagging the company in that post. Instead of payment, companies would mention them in their own posts, giving the influencer some fame or would send them free samples. Eventually, this turned into small payment. However, now that influencers (and companies) know the value of influencers, companies are paying. Some influencers are making more than teachers from one product/company.
Should I consider using one?
Authenticity is the strength of an influencer; therefore, inauthentic influencers are seen as posers or fakes or trying too hard or attention hogs. Businesses considering using an influencer must consider authenticity.
First, is the account on brand? This means the look, attitude and values of this influencer match that of the business's mission and vision as well as the rest of the marketing campaign.
Second, does this account has real followers? It should not shock anyone that where there is money there is fraud. There are so called influencers out there who create fake accounts for their followers in order to fool businesses into believing they are more popular than they really are. Many companies have hired human and digital investigators to sleuth out these accounts.
Third, are these followers the target market? As with any marketing campaign, businesses want to reach those they can sell to.
Before companies seek out an influencer for their campaign, there must be a marketing plan that includes messaging, budget, goals and a review process that will determine if the campaign is working.