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. At the core, influencers are word-of-mouth marketers. Influencers create a vast amount of content, both organic—or content created for the purpose of building the influencer’s brand—and paid content—content that is sponsored by a third-party brand. This content is created for an influencer’s blog, social media, e-newsletters, as well as other forms of media.
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 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.
Local influencers have an audience of followers that mostly live in and around their local community. A local influencer generally posts about local events and happenings, and might partner with small, local businesses, or with businesses opening a new location in their city. They might get compensated in gifted products or discounts rather than monetarily 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 on their audience, who follow them for their relatable, authentic content. Micro influencers have a concentrated following that is typically focused in a specific region, as they have grown to encompass more than their local and surrounding cities. In terms of reach, micro influencers can be identified as any influencer with an established following from 5,000 to 50,000.
Studies show that consumers are more likely to trust recommendations from other consumers, rather than from the brand itself. It is for this reason that micro influencers are often turned to for their suggestions on new trends, product reviews, and their favorite brands. As a micro influencer continues to create organic content to build their own brand, voice and trust with their audience, they will also begin to take on more sponsored content as their content is recognized more and more by brands.
Typically, micro influencers create content for a certain niche. For example, they may only review craft beer, or a food blogger who likes to create Mexican recipes for the family. As a micro influencer’s audience grows, so does their content, and they may begin to expand upon their niche.
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Once an influencer’s audience reaches 100,000 and above; they are considered a macro influencer. Once this status is achieved, a macro influencer may no longer be seen as a relatable, everyday person with their reach scaling from a specific region to going national. Macro influencers may be put on more of a pedestal by their audience, as they emulate a lifestyle their audience wishes to have. The items and products they share are part of this lifestyle, thus incentivizing their audience to purchase those items and products to help them achieve the same status.
When partnering with a macro influencer, it is important to take into consideration the time they have put into curating their audience and building their own brand. They have established a voice and trusted opinion that is respected within their community. As a result, macro influencers can be more selective with which brands they choose to align themselves with and command a higher compensation. Macro influencers operate as brands themselves, so offering gifted product or product discounts in exchange for a partnership is rarely accepted as compensation alone. However, you can be assured these influencers are experienced and professional, while producing top-quality content.
Celebrity influencers have more than 1 million followers, and are likely recognized by many people outside of any particular niche or following. They could be influencers who have grown their followings, or people such as athletes, actors, artists, chefs and more. 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.
Brands can utilize celebrity influencers for product endorsements, as the face of their brand, and so much more. A celebrity influencer has a large impact on a consumer’s purchase decision, with brands citing as much as a 4% relative increase in sales when partnering with a celebrity influencer.* With this impact, comes a hefty cost, however if you’re ready to make an the investment, one that reaches millions of dollars; it could pay off greatly.
Selecting the right influencer for you
Now that you know a bit more about what, or who, an influencer is, you may still be wondering what type of influencer is right for you. There are many factors that may influence your decision, no pun intended. We suggest taking into consideration your marketing goals, content needs, and overall budget before deciding what type of influence is right for your campaign. Once you’re ready to dive in deeper, take a look at our tips for how to develop an influencer marketing campaign; or you can always send us an email and we can do it for you. Either way, you’re off to a great start!