15 Aug 2018
The rise of influencer marketing
In the last few years, the way brands are drawing up their marketing strategies has changed dramatically due to the rise and wild success of what is known as ‘influencer marketing’. In fact, in a recent survey by eMarketer, 84% of marketers said they would launch at least one influencer campaign within the next twelve months.
No wonder there is so much interest and investment in influencer marketing when over the last decade we have seen the huge boom of social media and the importance of the individual platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
What is an influencer?
There has been debate as to who truly constitutes as an influencer. Typically, an influencer is defined as an individual who has the power, or ‘influence’, to affect purchase decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge or relationship with their audience. Their status is usually indicated by the size of their following, but more importantly their engagement statistics. An influencer with, say, 900 followers but an 85% engagement rate is far more valuable to a brand than an influencer with 100,000 followers but a 20% engagement rate.
Many influencers also hold a following in a particular niche. For example, fashion, beauty, travel or fitness. Often, the size of the following is dependent on the size of the niche. An influencer is essentially a self-made brand and it’s all about supply and demand.
It is common for influencers to be viewed as simply a marketing tool, but they are much more than that. They spend a number of months or even years in most cases building up an organic following and establishing a creator/audience relationship. These are valuable assets and brands can collaborate with the influencers, gaining access to their audience and achieve their marketing goals with maximum engagement and reach as long as their product is in keeping with the influencer’s content and branding.
Types of influencers
The majority of influencers fit into the following categories:
- Macro Influencers
- Micro Influencers
- Nano Influencer
- Industry experts and thought leaders
Macro vs Mirco/Nano
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For clarity, a macro influencer is someone who has a very large following on social media, in general, they can be classified as ‘macro’ if they have over 100,000 followers. Macros may even have platforms which they have millions of followers on.
A micro influencer is considered by some as someone with around 1,000 to 10,000 followers. Anything before 1,000 but above 100 followers, is considered a Nano influencer. Others may say one qualifies as a micro influencer is they have a follower count of 10,000 to 100,000, so it is up for debate.
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The majority of social influencer marketing happens within social media predominantly with micro influencers being the main force. Interestingly, it has been found that once an influencer hits 100,000 followers, making them a macro, they lose around 20% of their engagement rates. Meanwhile, Nano influencers may only have a handful of followers but they often have a far more dedicated following than a macro influencer.
This is actually a shift in the industry as ‘traditional’ influencers tend to be celebrities, and whilst they still have a role to play, their importance as influencers is fading fast. The reason for celebrities dropping from the limelight when it comes to influencing is because both macro, but particularly micro/nano, influencers, have far more authentic and active relationships with their following then a celebrity would, who seem far more detached from reality. Brands are now certainly seeing the value in this unique relationship and incorporating it into their marketing strategies.
Nevertheless, influencer marketing grew from the success of celebrity endorsement. The question is, how much real influence do celebrities have over their following, despite often having rather dedicated and large ones. Authenticity and personalised relationships are the keys to success with influencer marketing which is where celebrity endorsement misses the mark.
Despite being actual experts in their field, these influencers often get overlooked by marketers, in part because they are not considered ‘trendy’ or ‘relatable’.
Industry experts gain their influential status and respect through their positions, qualification and experience of their topic. These experts tend to come in the form of:
- Industry experts
- Professional Advisors
We see the line between traditional and social media blurring when we consider that many bloggers and content creators often work with industry experts to develop their knowledge of a subject.