The power to change or affect someone or something.
A person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way.
The concept of influence, as it relates to a consumer’s interest in a brand or a product, often comes down to identifying the right influencer. Celebrities and public figures have long been natural and obvious influencers, as they use their popularity and reach to spread the word about products, people, companies and services they love.
But celebrities are just the beginning. As social media has helped connect people with specific interests, a new type of influencer has emerged in everything from makeup and fashion to sports and technology.
These influencers are not only helpful to consumers — who value their expertise and taste — but also to brands that want to connect with specific audiences. But many brands don’t know the best ways to identify and leverage influences.
How can brands learn to make the most of the influencers in their space? What does influencer marketing and advertising really mean today?
In this post, we explain influencer marketing, provide tips for establishing an influencer program, and showing how social media analytics can help brands succeed in this critical capacity.
Get social insights delivered to your inbox.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer Marketing can be defined as “a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you” (via Tap Influence).
While the concept itself is fairly straightforward, the most challenging part is knowing how to identify the right type of influencer for your needs, as well as the specific influencer who will be most effective at engaging your audience.
When determining a celebrity influencer for a campaign or annual sponsorship, brands don’t want to make mistakes and miss consumer market opportunities. This is where understanding the overlap between audience interests can be vital in developing a strategy on how best leverage an influencer.
Social media makes everyone an influencer
In 2010, Facebook introduced the “Like Button” providing people the ability to offer their opinion across posts and pages, potentially influencing behavior based on things their friends like. In 2011, they launched Sponsored Stories, offering an influential message associated with a user’s friend to show up on the platform or within their newsfeed.
In 2014, Facebook announced they were rolling user opinions associated with likes into their ads. Facebook and other social media platforms show that consumer opinions have the power to influence others, even at small scale.
Sometimes, of course, the impact can be much bigger.
Learning from a classic influencer marketing campaign
The “Got Milk” campaign began in 1995 and ran for 20 years. The ads caught people’s attention with celebrities sporting milk mustaches allowed consumers of all ages to picture themselves in the same humorous scenario, but what did it actually do for the milk industry?
How do you define and identify the perfect influencer?
Selecting the right influencer isn’t easy. Two-thirds of marketers consider finding relevant influencers their largest influencer marketing challenge (via Influencer Marketing Hub). Aligning common interests of consumer group with the influencer can make this process much easier. It’s not about the number of fans an influencer has, but their ability to sway opinion within the right group. This is why selecting the right communication channels for these influencers is essential.
Social media analysis provides a way for brands to understand the interests of any audience in order to select an influencer who aligns well with the interests of the target audience.
If a brand is launching a new video, finding an influencer who will drive consumers to watch that video seems like a good match. But it’s important to associate the industry and motive correctly. What’s the end result you want from the consumer who has engaged with the influencer? If it’s to share, comment, replay for media buzz this may just simply be done by sharing with a handful of enthusiast influencers, across those channels, who care about the industry.
Alternatively, if the goal is to get consumers to take action in the form of purchase, it’s important to understand how these consumers make purchase decisions. That means selecting influencers across the right channels and different buying categories to reach the right groups with the right message. Regardless, it’s important to remember it’s not necessarily about the influencers network, but how engaged their network is with one another.