Influencer marketing: What it really means to be an influencer

Influencer marketing is a hot topic, and when you think about the potential, it’s not hard to understand why. Legitimate data proves a single person can be a trend maker. And thanks to platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, this includes everyday lay people.

Brands are spending over a billion dollars annually to sponsor Instagram posts — and not just for big name influencers. There are sponsorship opportunities for people with more modest amounts of followers as well.

This new wave of interactive online branding should be a key strategy to companies.

Today we have a term for it — influencer marketing. This time around, though, brands have learned a thing or two before throwing money at the current social media frontrunner.

But it’s easy to confuse popularity with influence. Just because you have a large social following doesn’t mean you have the engagement levels a brand is looking for.

This is why it’s extremely important to cut through the noise and learn what it really means to be an influencer.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is not a new phenomenon.

In the late early 2000s, well before social media was really a *thing*, media frenzies surrounding the latest accidental celebrities (aka socialites) led to a new type of trendsetter.

In the rush to out-promote and out-starpower competitors, magazines and television were full of reality stars pushing products. “Celebrity marketing” went well beyond ad nauseam and with seemingly zero authenticity.

influencer marketing

Rather than mimicking what the latest celebrity is doing, people are now looking more to those they know and trust when seeking new products or brands to follow. People trust those that they know… or in the case of social media, those they *feel* like they know.

Just as when a friend offers a recommendation — you value their recommendation more because you trust their judgment. Influencer marketing works the same way, allowing brands to target an audience of like-minded people that follow an influencer they trust.

Firmly rooted in the idea of word-of-mouth, and revitalized by the power of social media, brands use influencer marketing to collaborate with relevant online influencers in order to build brand awareness in an organic way.

Who are influencers?

Influencers are people who have strong feelings about something or an affinity for a particular brand… and a good relationship with others. They are thought leaders and not only know what they’re talking about, they’re talking about it a lot.

As the traditional editorial space shrinks, influencer marketing is an attractive and effective way to reach wider audiences. However, the key factor when it comes to influencer marketing is credibility.

influencer marketing

Influence marketing is a subsect of content marketing. As today’s consumers become more aware of being sold to, it’s imperative that an opinion shared by an influencer is genuine. After all, influencer marketing is a delicate balance between brand appeal and the influencer’s audience so it should be mutually beneficial.

How influencers can start

Social butterfly

While it sounds like a no-brainer, it’s too important to ignore: If you’re not 100 percent committed, don’t do it. Even when you don’t feel like posting, you need to. It’s important to keep content coming because that’s how you book gigs.

Average isn’t a bad word

The most effective way to market a brand is to make it seem applicable to everyday life. It’s more effective to show a product on or used by a person in the same manner the average person might use it as well.

You’re only human

Gone are the days that mere mortals idolize perfect lives. Instead grow your following by being accessible and relatable. Making yourself and your posts seem honest and real will attract a stronger, more supportive following.

Build a following

Building an audience sounds like a daunting task, but it really isn’t that scary. Once you start posting regularly and get your first 100 or 1,000 followers, you’ll see a trend in which posts get the most engagement.

Find who’s most active on your profile and return the favor. This helps build relationships and loyalty. Then you can start actively liking and commenting on accounts similar to yours to get your name out there and increase your recognition.

Substance makes you standout

There are a plethora of social accounts attempting to do the same thing as you. What makes you standout and, ultimately, bring you success is showing your followers that there is a purpose to your posts. Be authentic, show who you really, share your passions, and the followers will come.

Integrity is everything

No matter what you’re talking about, integrity is everything. Being authentic — not simply saying things just because you’re getting paid to — is what matters most. At the end of the day, influencer marketing is advertising. But if you aren’t compromising yourself in a scheme to gain followers, you won’t need to have #ad on your posts.