What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer Marketing. What is this exactly?
This is a question that I’ve been asked a lot from marketers, entrepreneurs, executives, and agencies alike. Although some of us have been involved in influencer marketing for many months, or even years, it’s an entirely new concept to some. Or perhaps it’s something that you’ve heard a little bit about but are now beginning to educate yourself on it.
I thought it was time to take a step back and revisit this question. Whether you call it Influencer Marketing, Influencer Outreach, Outreach Marketing, Blogger Outreach, or Advocate Marketing, they all amount to the same principles.
Before defining influencer marketing, let’s talk about what an influencer is and the evolution of social media/online communities. The concept of influence is not new but put it in the context of social media, and we’re taking an old concept and giving it a modern twist. Defining an influencer is something that the team at InNetwork had to do from day one of starting our vetted network. Here’s how we determine who is a social media influencer:
- Engagement with a community where they are seen as a subject matter expert.
- Someone who has a significant audience size, such as a high follower count, strong blog following, Facebook fans and YouTube subscribers (to name a few).
- Authenticity – they stay true to their personal brand. They do not change their tone or personal style for the sake of a sponsorship. Under no circumstances do they compromise themselves at the risk of losing their community and audience.
- They have credibility – they do not buy followers, they are knowledgeable, provide interesting content and have a community that goes to them as a trusted source for information on certain subject matters.
With the conversational nature of social media, combined with the social and analytical behaviour of human beings, influencers and communities emerged. When social media monitoring and engagement became a new avenue for brands and organizations to communicate with their customers (or potential customers), it also became a way for like-minded people to engage with one another. Some of these people produced consistent and interesting content. Many of these people have become social media influencers and consumers’ source of information for purchasing decisions and education.
This created a huge shift in consumers’ purchasing decisions and behaviours. Brands and organizations’ messages were no longer the only source of truth to get product or service information. In fact, a new social contract and expectation emerged, as we talked about in previous posts.
As marketers recognized this, they began to ask the question:How do we get through to these online communities that make up our target market and audience? The best way, many quickly learned, was to engage with the influencers leading these communities. These engagements gave way to Influencer Marketing.
Influencer Marketing, in a nutshell, is a new way of marketing that involves working with key and strategic advocates as a way to reach a target market. It is the partnership of people on social media who are considered credible, authentic, are engaged and have a significant audience. Marketers partner with these influencers, as they have the attention of the desired target market. Successful partnerships allow the influencer to express their personal brand and creative freedom, while creating brand-focused content for the marketer’s intended audience.
Outreach Marketing is not about regurgitation of information and temporary arrangements. It’s about relationship building and honest, authentic engagement between influencers and brands that share a similar tone and manner.
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