What does influencer mean?
An influencer, refers to ‘a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media’, particularly when they do so in exchange for money or for samples of the product they are promoting.
This is the next step in celebrity endorsement, but the celebrity need not be a household name; instead they may simply be someone with a large following on social media, allowing news of a particular product to reach a wide audience directly, whose opinion will be valued and trusted. The effect of influencers in the market is unquestionable, with Snapchat stock losing $1.3million, a drop of 6%, after a single negative tweet by celebrity influencer Kylie Jenner. This new marketing trend has led to a dramatic increase in the use of the word; in 2017, the number of hits for influencer each month in our new words corpus was typically more than double that of five years ago, in 2012.
Who is an Influencer?
The emergence of social media has brought new literature into the world of marketing and advertising, and the lack of familiarity with the concepts and terminology of this new world makes it difficult to understand its nature. One of these new concepts is the “influencer”, which has become one of the most widely used terms in the social media world.
Influencers effects on social media
Over the last decade we have seen social media grow rapidly in importance. According to the 2018 Global Digital Statshot from Hootsuite, 3.196 Billion people actively use social media – that’s 40% of the world’s population. Inevitably these people look up to influencers in social media to guide them with their decision making.
Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a particular topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic engaged people who pay close attention to their views.
Brands love social media influencers because they can create trends and encourage their followers to buy products they promote.
Types of influencers
The majority of influencers fit into the following categories, with the last category rapidly becoming the most important:
- Industry experts and thought leaders
- Bloggers and content creators
- Micro Influencers
Influencer marketing grew out of celebrity endorsement. Businesses have found for many years that their sales usually rise when a celebrity promotes or endorses their product. There are still many cases of businesses, particularly high-end brands, using celebrities as influencers.
Industry experts and thought leaders
These experts include:
- Industry experts
- Professional advisors
Bloggers and content creators
Blogging has been connected to influencer marketing for some time now. There are many highly influential blogs on the internet. If a popular blogger positively mentions your product in a post, it can lead to the blogger’s supporters wanting to try out your product.
Many bloggers have built up sizeable followings in specific sectors. For instance, there are highly influential blogs about personal development, finance, health, childrearing, music, and many other topics, including blogging itself. The key thing successful blogs have in common is the respect of their readers.
Micro influencers are normal everyday people who have become known for their knowledge about some specialist niche. As such, they have usually gained a sizeable social media following amongst devotees of that niche. Of course, it is not just the number of followers that indicates a level of influence, it is the relationship and interaction that a micro influencer has with his followers.
The nature of influence is changing. Micro influencers are becoming more common, and more famous. Some have risen from virtual obscurity to being nearly as well-known as traditional celebrities. This is particularly the case for Generation Z who spend more time on the internet than watching television or going to sports or movies.