Marketing has existed for centuries. As far back as the Romans and ancient Greeks, promotion, trade, and influence all played a major role in the success of the economy. Though the methods have changed drastically, the principles have generally remained the same. This is especially true when it comes to influencer marketing.
Two Contrasting Examples of Influencer Marketing
- Consider medieval knighthood. Somewhere along the way, someone discovered that honoring men with knighthood created an aura of prestige and honor that people found appealing. Using this perception, knights could enhance the influence and adoration of a people towards their king. The people might even be willing to pay the kingdom to watch their favorite knights battle in jousting tournaments.
- Now consider Kim Kardashian. For many people, she embodies the ideal of a beautiful woman with the perfect sense of fashion. All she has to do is take a picture of her new lipstick or shoes and they’re instant best-sellers. Fashion brands pay her as much $200,000 for one social media post that features their product. Why? Because millions of people around the world idolize her and trust her recommendations.
What is Influencer Marketing?
A type of marketing that uses people with authority, expertise, and popularity to encourage people to take an action; typically making a purchase or providing their contact information. It’s all about leveraging the perception of authority figures.
Influencer marketing is the latest in a long line of marketing buzzwords to appear in the 21st century. 60% of brands used influencer marketing as part of their strategy in 2016 and that number is projected to reach 75% in 2017. With such rapid growth comes misunderstanding as to what influencer marketing can do to help businesses.
One common misconception is that it can be used to change the behavior of an audience. This couldn’t be more wrong. Influencers should be chosen based on their ability to drive action within a devoted fan-base or target audience. An influencer that has no effect on their audience is not an influencer.
The Evolution of Influencer Marketing
What will influencer marketing look like in the near future? There’s little doubt it will continue to grow, but how will it change and evolve with consumer demand?
- Micro-influencers. While the Kim Kardashian’s of the world reach millions of people through social media daily, their audiences tend to be fragmented. Influencers with smaller, fiercely loyal followings can be just as powerful when they’ve established themselves as an expert in their field. Not only are these types of influencers more affordable, they’re also able to share more highly targeted content. Expect the number of micro-influencers to grow exponentially.
- Employee Advocacy. Why pay for an influencer when you’re already employing people who are intimately familiar with your brand. Companies will begin to focus more on culture by using their employees to promote their brands. This is a holistic approach to influencer marketing that can improve brand identity, customer retention, and talent acquisition.
Focus on Customers, Not Influencers
A common mistake many marketers and business owners make when they first use influencer marketing is to work with the most popular influencer they can find. Most of the time the most popular influencer won’t be the right choice.
Criteria for Choosing an Influencer to Work With:
- They know your industry inside-and-out
- Their content is relevant to your industry
- They have a loyal audience which they can influence to take action
When you’re choosing an influencer to work with, you’re choosing a target audience to connect with. Make sure the audience wants what you’re selling, otherwise your efforts and resources will be wasted. Your focus needs to be on the customer, not the influencer.
So how do you know if influencer marketing is right for your business? Find out if there are influencers reaching parts of your target audience that you haven’t yet reached. If so, that’s a valuable aspect of your market with untapped potential. Following the three criteria for choosing an influencer will allow you to easily decide whether this style of marketing will benefit or hinder your brand.