10 Apr What Is An Influencer?
You’ve probably heard the word “influencer” thrown around a lot these days, especially if you’re in the marketing world. “But what exactly is an influencer, and what do they do?” you might be asking. Can anyone count as an influencer, or does an influencer have to have a certain amount of celebrity status? Do influencers only promote products for sale, or can they also promote other things? Let’s discuss!
All Shapes & Sizes
An influencer is anyone with the ability to affect others’ decisions (typically purchase decisions) for the benefit of a third party. Influencers often do their influencing on a social media platform, though occasionally word of mouth, print media, and other media forms may be used.
This is a pretty broad definition of “influencer,” and intentionally so! All kinds of different people might count as influencers, as long as their efforts are directed at influencing the decisions of the people around them for one reason or another. However, the people most often referred to as “influencers” will have a consistent following on at least one social media platform and enters into formal contracts with brands to promote a brand’s products or services in exchange for material compensation.
Let’s talk about a few different types of influencers.
Marketers often consider micro influencers to be the smallest category of influencer, but we think it’s worth paying attention to another category of small influencer as well: the local influencer. Local influencers are people who may not have a lot of social media reach (often less than 5k followers on any given platform), but who do have a significant ability to influence others within their community. These influencers may rely on social media, but may also incorporate word of mouth and other media types more than other influencers.
A local influencer might partner with small, local businesses, or with businesses opening a new location in their city. They might get compensated in free products or discounts instead of money more often than other influencers. Local influencers are often food, fashion, or lifestyle influencers, focusing on local restaurants or boutiques.
Some local influencers may have more than 5k followers, especially if their locale is a large city, in which case they may not be small influencers at all. In fact, none of these categories is hard and fast, and they may not always be mutually exclusive with one another.
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Micro influencers wield significant influence, but their reach is limited to around 5k-100k followers. They typically rely on social media platforms rather than on traditional media or word of mouth, and they may also have blogs or other websites where they post original content.
A micro influencer might work with big and small brands alike, and can be a part of any given niche. Micro influencers usually have narrower niche focuses than macro or celebrity influencers.
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Macro influencers are just like micro influencers but with larger followings—around 100k-1 million followers in size. These influencers often have strong followings on more than one social media platform. Macro influencers can often use their popularity to their advantage to negotiate for higher pay, and may have the freedom to be more selective with the brands they choose to partner with. Macro influencers rarely accept compensation in the form of free product or discounts alone.
Celebrity influencers have more than 1 million followers, and are likely recognized by many people outside of any particular niche or following. These influencers rarely partner with small brands (partly because celebrities can demand more pay for the time they put in), but large, already successful brands may leverage them to promote new products or rebrand.