What is influencer marketing?

When you look around, most of the time you get to see people are online looking at their phones and interacting on different social platforms. If you haven’t noticed, we are all surrounded by ‘influencer marketing’. The very foundation of influencer marketing is this: it is easier to influence people who are already influenced by someone or something. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

Influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders or influencers to drive a brand’s message to the targeted market. While there is some overlap between celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing campaigns, influencer campaigns are designed to tap into an existing community of engaged followers. Influencers are specialists in their particular niche, and have established a high level of trust and two-way communication with their follower bases.

Their fans trust that their endorsement of a product or brand comes from a well-researched, more holistic place, rather than something as simple as a signed contract. And while there is often a formal agreement in place between brands and influencers, influencers tend to be more selective about their affiliations, choosing to partner with brands that reflect their unique personal brands and won’t alienate their followers.

Influencer marketing may be trendy right now, but it isn’t new at all. It has been happening for a long time; its change in the communication platforms that creates the new buzz. An example from the recent past is Oprah Winfrey, who is an influencer. In her TV talk show, she had a segment on authors and books. If she featured or recommended a book, every book retailer in the country knew that they would run out of copies.

This is powerful influencing – a recommendation from someone of national, indeed, international renown. And, of course, this is an extreme example of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing adhere to the Milgrim’s Law which states that ‘the marketplace will blindly believe the words of an expert.’

Influencer’s typically have solid followings and a notable impact within their online communities and networks. They usually play the roles of content writers, journalists, bloggers, CEO’s, creative people, entertainers, advertisers or advisers.

They are connected to other people around them and are looked to for advice and opinions and are regarded as influential. When an influencer shares information or posts an update, it will be read and followed by a large number of people. That is where the business benefit lies. If these influencing personalities speak for your brand, then your business will reach out to their followers. Different from other traditional marketing methods, this brand marketing method is powerful enough to influence the purchasing decisions of customers.

E commerce giant Amazon has debuted a “social influencer” program in hopes of recruiting stars from YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to tout products on its site.

According to Mediakix the influencer-marketing trend is expected to become a $5 to $10 billion market within the next five years.

Nykaa features some of the prominent youtubers who are into beauty, lifestyle and fashion in their Channel, Nykaa TV. They act as advisors, sharing excerpts and reviewing products. Infact these youtubers are also considered as models for their in-house products commercials.

Influencer marketing is not just confined to celebrity endorsements. Most of the service providers and product owners understand who influences the decision maker and hence they target on the influencer for their purchase. This is done in an indirect way.

British Airway’s “UnGround Innovation Lab” campaign is still being discussed today.

In 2013, a flight took off from Silicon Valley with 100 thought leaders, influencers and prominent thinkers from Google, RocketSpace and Silicone Valley Bank. They were put together to use their brainstorming skills for the greater good and show how great ideas can be created when people work together.

On the flight, 22 concepts were developed in less than five hours. The ideas were all geared towards helping STEM-driven people to find opportunities to use their skills.

The campaign worked because they were able to get big names to join the experiment, which automatically brought media attention to the campaign. The focus wasn’t on the company, but British Airways still got their name in the news in an authentic and positive way.

An influencer need not be a celebrity; they can even be your regular, potential customers. Manhattan-based beauty startup Glossier has owed their overnight cult status to their ever-growing group of super fans and micro-influencers.

Instead of paying big name celebrities to promote their skincare and cosmetics, the brand relies on “regular women” to spread brand awareness.

90% of Glossier’s revenue doesn’t come from paid or build marketing spend, but comes from their highly engaged fans.

There is an army of Glossier girls that closely follow the brand’s product announcements, social media posts, event invitations, and forwards the brand’s messages to their followers on social media and in real life.

Some of the websites providing information on influencers, like shoutout.biz, Tapinfluence.com will help you identify the right set of influencer you need for your business.

The bottom line is, no matter how many claims a brand makes, the decision of the buyer is hugely influenced by who tells it to them; that’s where influencer marketing is ‘the tool’ most of the companies are adapting.