Influencers: Who Are They And What Do They Do?

In my last blog, on digital marketing for startups, I mentioned Influencers and how important they are. So this time I thought I’d go into more detail so you can understand who they are, what they do and how you can use influencer marketing to reach your target audience.

What is an influencer?

Essentially they are individuals who have the ability to influence and affect the opinions or buying decisions of your target audience because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship with their audience.

Using social media influencers in your marketing is the practice of building relationships with those people who can build relationships for you. An influencer can reach consumers via blogs and social networks, they may have small or large audiences, but the key is that they are reaching people that your brand may not be able to reach.  Typically before social media influencers were commonly press journalists and industry experts. Now the new breed of influencers are growing stronger and more influential.

Social Media

The latest figures from Hootsuite show that over 3 billion people actively use social media – 40% of the worlds population. So inevitably people will look towards influences in social media to guide them with their decision making.

These influencers have built a reputation of knowledge and expertise on a particular topic – they will post regularly on social media channels and will have a large following of engaged people who will listen to their views, create trends and encourage followers to buy.

Type of Influencers

We can categorise most influencers into 4 categories:

1.     Celebrities

Influencer marketing grew out of celebrity endorsement – these are the original influencers and they still have a role to play. The cost of an influencer campaign using a celebrity can be vast and therefore as other influencers have grown, this kind of traditional celebrity marketing for smaller companies isn’t an option. Think George Clooney and Nespresso – multi-million dollar contracts and a long term relationship.

2.     Industry experts and thought leaders

This set of influencers have gained respect because of their position, qualifications or experience about a topic.  These experts include journalists, academics and industry experts. Getting the attention of a journalist for a prestigious publication who writes about your brand or product in a positive way is a massive win as generally this is a free service.  Industry leaders and those in thought leadership and are now just as likely to be featured in blog posts and social media campaigns as in traditional media.

3.     Bloggers and content creators

The term, “blogger,” is a noun derived from the term, “blog”. A blog is an online journal or website with frequently published content. A bloggers shares their ideas, thoughts and writing online. There are many highly influential blogs out there and if a popular blogger positively mentions your product in a post, it can lead to the blogger’s followers wanting to try out your product. Vloggers (video bloggers) and youtubers are also massively influential now too.

The key is that they all have built up sizeable followings in specific sectors such as fashion, makeup, music, personal development and health. Some Vloggers or bloggers may write or feature in a paid sponsored post on their site – research shows that generation Z are immune to a sponsored tag post and as long as the brand fits with the core audience, it can still have a major impact on your business.

The top-performing social media influencers of 2018 including Huda Kattan a makeup artist and beauty blogger with 24.3 million followers on Instagram, Chiara Ferragni a fashion bloggers with 11.6 million followers on Instagram and 1.2 million on Facebook, EL Rubius, a Spanish game blogger with 53.5 million followers in total and Dude Perfect, a sports entertainment company that blogs about sports, trick shots and sports merchandise, with 53.4 million followers.

4.     Micro Influencers

Micro influencers are everyday people who have become known for their knowledge about some specialist subject and have gained a sizeable social media following out of that niche. Remember, it’s not just the number of followers that indicates a level of influence, it’s the relationship and interaction that a micro influencer has with his followers.

By working on a smaller scale, micro-influencers can spread a campaign to a wider area. To harness the power of a micro influencer, you need to first to convince the influencer of your brand or product’s worth – and influencers are often picky about who they work with. Some are happy to promote a brand for free whilst others will expect some form of payment, often a free sample of the product itself.  Micro influencers are becoming more common, and more famous – their trusted voice can be used to drive your brand’s message and inspire action amongst your target audience through their influencer generated content and are in a good position to create long-standing relationships with brands on the rise.

Indeed, a recent study found only 1% of millennials trusted branded ads, meaning that authentic and original content from socail media influencers are essential.

Some top UK micro influencers are Sortedfood, a group of male food bloggers with 73.9K followers, Does my bum look 40 in this, a blog following fashion in your 40s with over 80k followers and Whosthemummy one of the UK’s top parenting blogs with over 30k monthly subcribers.

Influencer agencies

A new breed of marketing agencies have now arrived that connect brands and social influencers, helping you grow your audience through collaboration with like-minded individuals.   Some businesses prefer a DIY approach by building up relationships with influencers gradually. Yet this can be a slow process and takes a lot of time and energy – the agency option offers a more costly solution to deliver global influencer marketing campaigns.