Who is an influencer?

Influencer. Everywhere you look or scroll, you seem to bump on that word. Am I right? (I think that’s a YES). Who is an influencer? What is influencer marketing? How can your business benefit from it? All of that will be discussed in this blog post. Stay tuned. 

An influencer is someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience. Let’s narrow it down a little more. Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic (parenting, fitness, food, travel, beauty, etc.). They make regular posts about that topic and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views.

It is important to state that they are not just a marketing tool you use to achieve your business goals but a social relationship asset. So, why are they so popular, and why are more and more businesses using them? Well, first of all, 4.20 billion people are using social media according to We are social. These people inevitably look up to influencers to guide them with their decision-making. Second, if you choose the right influencer, you get access to your target audience for a lot less money than TV, print, or radio, and your product/offer can be shown much more authentically and detailed. One more thing is, followers, especially millennials, trust online reviews as much as family and friends, and 50% of consumers will take some kind of action.

Influencer follow

Influencer marketing

As a hybrid of content marketing and native advertising, influencer marketing is an established trend in marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers. It works because it uses tactics like word-of-mouth marketing and social proof, which are now critical aspects of a successful marketing strategy. We have covered the basics now, and your next question probably is – How do I get started with influencer marketing? Before we set up 5 main steps, you need to decide will you reach out to influencers personally or through an agency.

On the surface, it may seem reasonable to reach out to influencers personally with the presumed lower cost and easy reach. However, with a vast amount of influencers, each focusing on specific topics of interest, performing influencer marketing and liaising can be a real challenge. To execute an effective influencer marketing campaign, one should be sure to read up on the various aspect of influencer marketing from articles, ebooks and, at the end of the day, already have some experience (and mistakes made!). Alternatively, a marketing agency would be of great help in terms of identifying the right influencer for your marketing campaign, negotiating prices, and measuring results. 

5 main steps:

  • define your goals – are you trying to increase brand awareness or drive engagement? Are you building loyalty with your current audience?
  • identify and define your audience –  depending on your organization’s target personas or ideal buyer; you should group consumers by demographics, psychographics, buyer lifecycle stage, or preferred channel
  • choose a type of campaign – guest posting, sponsored content, re-targeting, co-creation, competitions, mentions on social, discount codes, and more are terrific examples of influencer marketing campaigns
  • find your brand influencers – when researching influencers, you can search through relevant hashtags, see Instagram’s suggested users based on profiles you follow or check out influencers your competitors are using to get ideas on where to look
  • track – track the traffic, engagement, conversions, or the other metrics of success you decided when you determined your marketing goals

If you’d like to find out How to measure social media metrics effectively, read it here.

Influencer marketing strategy

Let’s play with some numbers, shall we?

Influencer marketing is an investment. To get it right, you have to devote time to ensure you find the right influencer to promote content that appeals to your target audience. You also have to spend money and/or resources to reward the influencer, run various campaigns with the influencer, and more, depending on your specific marketing goals. Luckily, many statistics prove influencer marketing is a worthwhile time and monetary investment and show you which metrics are impacted by influencer marketing.

  • 80% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective, and 89% say it works just as well (if not better) than other marketing channels
  • 71% of marketers say the quality of customers and traffic from influencer marketing is better than other sources
  • Google searches for “influencer marketing” grew 1500% in the last three years
  • 48% of marketers working with influencers say audience relationship is the most valuable factor when considering which influencer to collaborate with
  • the top three goals of influencer marketing for businesses include increasing brand awareness (85%), reaching new audiences (71%), and generating sales and conversions (64%)
  • 68% of brands use Instagram for influencer marketing
  • 86% of the most-viewed beauty videos on YouTube were made by influencers, compared to 14% by beauty brands, themselves
  • In 2020, 80% of brands reported an increase in content output over the past two years

Last but not least, let’s mention how much is Instagram marketing actually worth. According to Influencer marketing Hub, influencer marketing is expected to grow to be worth 13.8 billion dollars in 2021, which is a huge growth if you consider that in 2016, it was “only” worth 1.7 billion dollars. Pretty impressive, right?

Types of influencers – why and when to work with them

We established how and why to use influencer marketing, but what’s the difference between types of influencers? Which influencer is best for your marketing campaign? How do you find the right influencers? Hold tight, because this is the part where I’ll answer those questions.

You can separate different types of influencers in multiple ways. Some of the most common methods are follower numbers, types of content, and level of influence. I will concentrate on types of influencers by follower numbers:

  • Nano influencers (1K-10K followers)
  • Micro-influencers (10k-100K followers)
  • Macro influencers (100K-1M followers)
  • Mega or celebrity influencers (1M+ followers)

Nano influencers

Nano influencers have from 1K–10K followers on their social media channels. They typically have a very engaged social media following and great engagement rates. Nano influencers are typically very vocal advocates of the brands and products they love. Their followers appreciate their authentic recommendations and commentary. They have a very close relationship with their followers and take the time to engage with their followers to cultivate those relationships.

When to use Nano influencers? If you’re a small to mid-size business with a limited marketing budget, nano influencers are a cost-effective option for getting started with influencer marketing. Nano influencers are also a great option if you want to test a product launch or test your products and services with a new niche.

Example of nano influencer:

Beth Gould nano influencer

Micro-influencers

Micro-influencers create relevant content for their audience and communicate with them via social media platforms, blogs, websites, and other forums. Due to the size of their following and the type of content they create, they typically have high engagement rates and a targeted audience.

Having a smaller audience allows micro-influencers to bond with the people who follow them more regularly via their channel.  This makes them appealing to work with businesses looking to develop personal relationships among their target audience.

Micro-influencers are real people, so their Instagram content is real, too. Instagram users with a few thousand followers likely post their own content, reply to comments, and behave more authentically than a brand or a celebrity with a social media manager might. If a micro-influencer engages with a promotional post on Instagram, their followers might be more inclined to click to learn more about the brand they’re posting about. 

When to use Micro-influencers? When you’re ready to start generating more focused leads, micro-influencers can help you with that. While they tend to have the same close relationship with their followers as that enjoyed by nano influencers, micro-influencers are more specialized so their audience is primed to hear marketing messages within that niche.

Example of Micro-influencer:

Elle macro influencer

Macro influencers

Macro influencers have between 100K–1M followers and tend toward a broader appeal than micro-influencers. They are typically internet-made celebrities and might be social media stars, bloggers, vloggers, or podcasters. Macro influencers not only have a large audience but they’ve likely developed that audience over months or years of nurturing relationships while growing followers. Because of their larger follower numbers, they will probably have a relatively low engagement rate. Macro-influencers generally have a high profile and can be excellent at raising awareness.

There are more macro-influencers than mega-influencers, so it should be easier for a brand to find a macro-influencer willing to work with them. They are also more likely to be used to working with brands than micro-influencers, making communication easier.

When to use Macro influencers? Macro influencers are great for bringing awareness to your brand, products, and services. You can use this relationship to increase your own engagement rates and boost your brand’s reach. Since macro-influencers have a healthy number of followers, they can help you reach a larger audience and increase your brand’s reputation.

Example of Macro influencer:

Teni Panosian macro influencer

Mega influencers

Mega influencers are the people with a vast number of followers on their social networks. Although there are no fixed rules on the boundaries between the different types of followers, a common view is that mega-influencers have more than 1 million followers on at least one social platform. Many mega-influencers are celebrities who have gained their fame offline – movie stars, sportspeople, musicians, and even reality television stars. Some mega-influencers have gained their vast followings through their online and social activities.

Only major brands should approach mega-influencers for influencer marketing, however. Their services will be costly, and they will most likely be extremely fussy about with whom they choose to partner. In virtually every case, mega-influencers will have agents working on their behalf to make any marketing deals. Also, it’s important to understand that the audiences attracted by mega influencers will be vast.

When to work with Mega influencers? If you’re working on a brand awareness campaign and have a large budget, mega influencers can get your products in front of as many eyes as possible which is great if your brand has appeal across segments. 

Example of Mega influencer:

Khloe Kardashian mega inluencer

Now that we’ve established types of influencers by the number of followers, I would like to touch on another viral subject among influencers and celebrities – brand ambassadors. A brand ambassador is hired by a business to work under contract to help them achieve specific goals: increase brand awareness and boost conversions and sales. A brand ambassador’s contract is typically long-term (several months or even years). During that time, they represent the brand and the lifestyle associated with it and have deep knowledge about the business’s products or services. Therefore, they don’t necessarily need to be an influencer before becoming an ambassador.

Example of brand ambassador:

Lily Collins brand ambassador

Everlasting question – payment or compensation?

Yes, this is an everlasting question when working with influencers. Do you think compensation still works? Would you get a campaign out of a free product? The answer varies depending on your brand, the value you bring to the table, influencer marketing goals, and negotiation skills.

But, let’s not fool ourselves – paid promotion will always be more acceptable than a product for the post. And the odds of an influencer promoting your product for free, only decline as their follower count increases. Why is that? Because high-quality content and access to an influencer’s large, dedicated audience come at a price. For many influencers, creating content is their full-time job. Also, they’ve worked for years, perfecting their craft and building a following. As a result, most expect to be paid for their services. BUT, unpaid collaboration is still possible.

Brands that are able to run free product only campaigns have one or more of the following:

  • a valuable product like luxury fashion, travel, electronics, etc. Why? Because in most cases, influencers are getting a product worth more than they would charge for a sponsored post.
  • existing relationship with influencers. An ongoing relationship that has the potential to turn into a formal affiliation can make your campaign more appealing to influencers.
  • a popular or viral product. Even if your products may not come at a high price, influencers are interested in working with brands that are on trend because their audience has a genuine interest in getting their review. 
  • a household brand name. If your brand is something influencers can be proud to put on their portfolio, you may be a great candidate to run an unpaid campaign. Or, if your brand has a large social following, you can definitely leverage the extra exposure you’ll be giving influencers by trading the promise to repurpose and tag their content on your social media in exchange for promotion.
  • nonprofits – appealing to the emotional side of influencers can get you a long way. Many influencers are willing to spread awareness about nonprofits and organizations that give back if they believe in your cause.

Unpaid collaborationPaid promotion

To sum it up

Influencers are a great asset to your business if you set a realistic goal and choose the ones that are right for your brand. If you have an electronic brand, you won’t approach somebody who is all about fashion. If you think you can benefit from influencer marketing, there are two ways of approaching it. You can do it personally or via a marketing agency. Remember, marketing agencies have the know-how, experience and a way of negotiating better prices. 

Regarding types of influencers, there are nano influencers, micro-influencers, macro-influencers and mega influencers. Which one you will choose depends on what you want to achieve and how big is your budget. Keep in mind – bigger following doesn’t mean bigger engagement or authenticity, quite the opposite.

Have respect for influencer’s work, because for most of them it’s their full-time job. They need to think of the content, concept, make the review/video/photo, which takes time.  Product for post kind of campaign is possible – if the value of your products is bigger than an influencer would charge if you are a brand with a viral product that an influencer must-have if you have an existing, long-term relationship with the influencers, if you are a household brand name, and if you are a nonprofit.

In the end, track your results, keep an open conversation with the influencer and give them enough space to do their job. They know their audience best!



Author

Ela Ikic

Key Account Manager at Kontra. Organization freak and "Sex and the city" top fan (team Mr. Big). Working with clients as Xiaomi, Jameson, Absolut, Karcher, Goodyear and more.