Influencer marketing is now an established form of online marketing. It has been a buzzword for a while now, and the mainstream media regularly refers to it. Yet, there are still people who don’t really understand what influencer marketing is all about. Indeed, some people come across the phrase for the first time and instantly ponder, “What is influencer marketing?”
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing involves a brand collaborating with an online influencer to market one of its products or services. Some influencer marketing collaborations are less tangible than that – brands simply work with influencers to improve brand recognition.
Influencers, unlike celebrities, can be anywhere. They can be anyone. What makes them influential is their large followings on the web and social media. An influencer can be a popular fashion photographer on Instagram, or a well-read cybersecurity blogger who tweets, or a respected marketing executive on LinkedIn. Within any industry, there are influential people—you just have to find them. Some will have hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of followers. But many will seem more like ordinary people. They may only have 10,000 followers, less in some cases. Yet they will have developed a reputation for being the experts in their field. They are the go-to people that provide the answers to people’s questions. Depending on their sphere of expertise, they are the people who make the most engaging social posts on their specialist topic. They share the best pictures, make the most entertaining videos, and run the most informative online discussions.
What Influencer Marketing is Not?
Influencer marketing isn’t just about finding someone with an audience and offering them money or exposure so they can say good things about you. That’s what viral celebrities are for. Influencers are people who’ve spent time building their own brand and cultivating their audience; they will be naturally protective of their reputation and the people who trust them. They’re people who had the patience and focus to succeed in social media, one organic follower at a time—people like this aren’t interested in doing influencer marketing solely for the money.
Influencer Marketing is also not about quick results. It’s the same kind of slow-and-steady approach as Social Media and Content Marketing, where your campaign isn’t about directly selling your wares. It’s about demonstrating your authority, credibility, and thought leadership within your industry. It’s about becoming synonymous with whatever it is that you offer.
With Social Media Marketing, it’s a slow game of acquiring the kind of followers who are going to be loyal and engaged. It’s tempting to think that joining forces with an influencer is going to be an easy way into the hearts and minds of his or her followers—it’s not that simple, though. Because to ally yourself with influencers, you’ve got to earn their trust and respect.