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An influencer is defined as a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media. They have their blog/social media profile as their core business and work typically with brands for short-term campaigns. It all started in the 1990’s when celebrities began to be approached to endorse products. Sport stars like Babe Ruth were endorsed by various tobacco companies. The revolutionary blogs were first created by Justin Hall in 1994. A way in which bloggers and influencers could gain revenue was through the launch of Google Adsense created in 2003.
Are influencers celebrities?
The difference between influencers and traditional celebrities is that celebrities typically start their career on television, magazines or radio, compared to influencers who gain their followers through non-traditional media channels like blogs, social media and vlogs (YouTube). Influencers have large social media followings and typically know their target audience well and so are able to cater to the audiences needs. Often these influencers are seen as experts in their specific areas. For example, if they are a gamer and discuss one of their favourite games, their followers may be influenced to purchase that game as they have already built trust and aspiration. B2C businesses can use influencer marketing by looking at their own brand’s target audience and seeing if it matches the influencer’s target audience.
How does influencer marketing work?
The most common type of influencer marketing consists of influencers talking about or demonstrating products on their posts or social media channels. They will often be paid a fee or products from a brand as promotional materials, and there have been many debates about whether influencers should clearly disclose that they are being paid to promote products. In some instances they make it less obvious by using ‘‘affiliate links’ where they receive a percentage of the revenue made from their followers purchasing products through the link. Typically brands contact influencers to work with them either directly or via an agency, though it has been know for the influencers to contact a specific brand they want to work with.
Influencer marketing to consumers can be extremely beneficial as it allows companies to tap into their target audience using popular people with a large online following. One of the most famous Youtubers is Pewdiepie, who mostly has content on games, has 65 million subscribers, with the majority of his audience being male. An effective example of an influencer is Zoella (Zoe Sugg) with 12 million Youtube subscribers she has managed to collaborate with brands like Primark, Benefit and Superdrug where she has created her own beauty range. According to the cosmetic business ‘The collection saw an 87% sales increase compared to the first line, which sold out on the day it was released in September 2014. Superdrug says the new figures make the Zoelle range one of the best-selling celebrity lines ever launched in the store’. Her first book in the first week sold out faster than the Harry Potter series. Brands like Primark, L’Oreal, Hollister and Benefit Cosmetics are key brands that have been using influencers to help market their products.
The comparison between B2B influencer marketing and B2C is that B2B decision making tends to be longer and more in-depth than a consumer, it also takes a lot longer for a brand to notice an increase in sales compared to B2C influencing, which tends to have a more immediate result.
Influencer Marketing Drawbacks
Why might influencer marketing not work out? There are a few reasons why:
- Spam Followers: This is where the account holder has bought their followers or collected followers by using tactics like ‘follow for follow’, meaning their followers is not genuine. To avoid this, make sure you research the account holder, what is their posted content like? Are they getting genuine topical comments and likes?
- Check the influencer hasn’t posted negatively about your brand or even posted negatively about using sponsored content on their channel. If this is the case then it will look unnatural for this person to show appreciation for your brand when they have previously criticized the product. This could cause backlash more for the influencer, however you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire.
Influencer marketing can be right for a brand if the influencer is not a spam account, has ‘legit’ followers and if the influencer has previously stated how much they loved your brand/ products. The best way to use influencer marketing is by researching the influencer previously and deciding which route is best to help market your product eg. affiliate links, promotional products or giving them a fee. What to expect you may ask? If using influencer marketing correctly you should be gaining results!