What is an influencer?

In this blog, we will explore what it is to be an influencer and the different types.

Influencer marketing is increasingly on the rise and is making everyone feel like they have FOMO (fear of missing out).  Many people jump in with big budgets thinking they can buy their way in, but it’s more than just budgets and name dropping.  Like anything in business, it’s about the relationships and how we walk away feeling from our experience. Before we engage with an influencer and wave our dollars,  I think we need a foundational understanding of who an influencer is. In this blog, we will explore what it is to be an influencer and the different types.

According to Influencer Marketing hub, an influencer is an individual who has:

    • “the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.
  • a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.”

As we dive into this topic it is important to note that an influencer is not a marketing tactic like a targeted email or banner ad.  Nor is an influencer something new.  Think of your traditional spokesperson in a digital format and expand the universe to include peer to peer experts that all share their voice on various social platforms.  

An influencer is an important piece to the digital relationships that you are building with your community on the social web.  Like I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs, social media is a long-term relationship based on authenticity and your ability to emotionally connect with your community through valuable and meaningful content.

Your content mix can and should eventually involve contributions from influencers that represent your market and community.  Social media influencers are people that have built a trusted reputation for their area of expertise. They typically develop and publish engaging content in various format types on the preferred channels that their target audience consumes information on.  When looking for an influencer it is important to select someone that can reach your target audience, drive engagement, and develop trust. His or her brand should align with yours and represent that work through creating original, engaging content for your audience.  Not only should they align with your business, but selecting the right type of influencer is just as important.  There are many types of influencers that represent the macro and micro level of a community.  First, let’s take a look at the macro influencer.

A macro influencer includes celebrities, industry experts or thought leaders.

celebrity_genericThe Celebrity: We are all familiar with the Kim Kardashian’s, Usain Bolt’s and Roger Federer’s of the world.  The celebrity influencer carries a large reach at a steep price. One benefit according to Traackr, “You’ll attract other influencers to the party by having a celebrity among the roster.”

The Expert / Thought Leader: You can actually break this category down to include the journalist, the analyst, academics and professional advisors.  Essentially the expert influencer is someone that is extremely knowledgeable and trusted in their field. By the way, this person already exists within your company.  Think of your CEO or product manager or engineer.  People seek out the expert to offer guidance and recommendations for their purchase decisions.  The good thing here is that you can find niche experts across every topic or industry.

Then you have the micro influencer.  According to Forbes article, “micro-influencer have specific niche audiences and are deeply connected to them.”  They are more of your everyday type people with a strong following and highly engaged audience.  Micro influencers can represent different areas of interest like travel, fitness, dogs, and food. I would consider your micro influencer as a ‘power consumer’ that is an avid product review and produces content based on their experience without that area.  For some great examples, I suggest taking a look at Social Report’s, Meet the Top 7 Instagram Micro-Influencers of 2018.  

An influencer can help make, break or do nothing for a brand if you don’t ensure that he or she aligns with your brand values and even creativity.  Understanding who an influencer is and the different types are foundational to your ability to create a successful influencer strategy that integrates with your overall marketing and business strategies.  Remember that staying true to what you stand for lives on in the people that you enlist to represent it.

I hope this blog was helpful and you have a better understanding of who an influencer is.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Pegah Kamal

Author: Pegah Kamal

My passion is to help build human connections in a vastly digital world- through memorable experiences and relatable stories.

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