Despite a rapidly growing market worth several billion dollars today and affecting most parts of our society, many are still pondering what an influencer actually is. At the same time, many of our readers and customers often have questions about the industry and the factors that define an influencer. Therefore, we now thought to try to get the right page on the whole by offering a comprehensive guide to everything that has to do with influencers and their work.
What defines an influencer?
An influencer is a content creator who helps brands and companies sell and market products and services to a specific target group via social media. To really understand what an influencer is, we must first take a look at what influencer marketing is.
Influencer marketing, also known as social media marketing, is a relatively new form of marketing. The concept is based on allowing influential people to represent brands and products in front of their followers who often have common and specific interests related to the product. This is done instead of running a more traditional advertising campaign where you usually reach a wider audience. The idea is that consumers are more affected by marketing from people they look up to and already follow on social media; and it works. In fact, influencer marketing has proven to be so effective that in many cases they offer results that are many times better than traditional marketing. In turn, this means that an influencer is a person who works in social media marketing and who makes money by partnering with brands and selling products to their followers.
Instagram is the main platform used for this kind of marketing but also other channels such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and most importantly YouTube can be used to some extent.
Different kinds of influencers
When influencer marketing was new, there was only one type of influencer and it was usually a celebrity who worked with companies he or she already had a connection with. Today it looks different.
In recent years, the industry has undergone extensive development and growth and nowadays there are several different types of influencers that are mainly defined by the number of followers they have.
Below you will find a summary of the most common varieties influencers as well as the pros and cons of using them for marketing purposes.
Macro-influencers 100,000+ followers
Macro-influencers are the original kind of influencer that has been used extensively for many years. As I said, these are mostly celebrities, actors, athletes and models with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers on social media.
In most cases, these influencers are used by established brands with large budgets that need celebrities to reach a broad target group. At the same time, the broad target group is one of the disadvantages of macro influencers as the risk is that the marketing is not specific enough, the other obvious disadvantage of a macro influencer is the high price they are associated with.
Micro-influnecer 10,000 – 100,000 followers
Shortly after the concept of influencer marketing began to spread like wildfire, marketers began to notice limitations in the system and that is where the idea behind micro-influencers was born. Although macro influencers had millions of followers and dedicated fans, they were not always optimal for marketing. Their sales, commitment and CTR were low and when it came to ROI it soon became clear that macro influencers were rarely the best option.
A minor influencer can represent a brand or product in a more natural way than a celebrity without the posts feeling like advertising. With them comes the opportunity for much more specific ‘targeting’ which often results in higher sales and the cost of a micro-influencer is less than macro influencers which means they are a more lucrative investment. You usually define a micro-influencer as someone who is not a celebrity but who nevertheless has tens of thousands of followers within a specific niche (more on that down in the post).
Nano-influencers 1000 – 10,000 followers
One of the latest additions in the industry is so-called nano-influencers. These influencers are defined by being less established than micro-influencers with a few thousand followers each. The reason why they started using these influencers was the same as for micro-influencers: more specific targeting for a lower price. Unlike a micro-influencer that could technically have up to a hundred thousand followers, a nano-influencer rarely has more than a few thousand.
The benefits of using nano-influencers are many, but the main thing is to reach a very small and precise target group. Like the relationship between macro and micro-influencers, nano-influencers can in many cases produce better results than micro-influencers. Of course, the problem with this kind of influencer is that you have to hire many more to reach as many customers as you have planned.
In addition to human influencers with real accounts, brands have recently started using AI influencers. An AI influencer is an influencer who does not really exist but has been created and controlled by a company or person. We understand that AI influencers may seem strange at first, but they are actually used. For example, there are AI influencers with thousands of followers who have worked with brands such as Gucci and Prada. Of course, an AI influencer is more limited as not everyone is prepared to follow or be influenced by a fancy character on Instagram, while interest in AI influencers is increasing.
What does an influencer do?
An influencer’s job is to sell and market products and to inspire at a societal level, while at the same time they are often responsible for being the brands’ faces outward and implemented in a way that is perceived as natural for the consumer. In other words, it is the task of influencers to inspire and influence their followers with the goal of creating a demand for products and lifestyle choices, whether they represent a fashion brand or a restaurant chain.
In most cases, influencers work to market one product or service at a time. For example, a tech company can hire influencers when they launch a new smartphone and it can also be a fashion house that needs help selling their new collection.
Although an influencer’s work includes more than that.
As you can probably understand, brands are stingy with who they work with and just because you have many followers on Instagram doesn’t mean that you are an influencer or that brands want to work with you. It is up to each influencer to find a niche that suits them and then create a presence and a following that can be attractive to brands. Without a niche and a personal brand, it is difficult for others to know who it is you are targeting. An influencer must have a plan about what it is they want to represent and what kind of brand they are interested in partnering with.
Who can be an influencer?
The great thing about influencer marketing is that it is accessible to everyone and that is why the industry has become so large. The whole point of influencer marketing is to allow everyday people to stand for marketing as it creates a more natural link between brand and consumer. Today there are influencers in all possible shapes and sizes, there are even influencers who are 65+ and who diligently represent products for older generations.
The market is a central part of the digital revolution that has been going on in recent years where more and more people are choosing to avoid the “hamster wheel” and instead are choosing to work for themselves. Personally, we find it inspiring to see how both young and old benefit from opportunities that did not exist just a couple of years ago. If you are interested in testing your life as an influencer, we just want to remind you one last time that the number of followers is not everything, but it is more important that you find a niche to focus on. Popular niches include fashion, health, food, technology, etc.
Brand Ambassadors vs. influencers
Last but not least, we thought about taking the opportunity to explain that there are two concrete ways an influencer can work. Usually, an influencer is hired to promote something with one or two posts on a social media platform. After that, the cooperation is over and both parties can start new collaborations. However, a brand may also need help with rebranding or to establish brand awareness in a new market. In these cases, an influencer can be hired to represent the brand and their products for an extended period, in such an arrangement, the influencer is often called a brand ambassador. Both methods are effective for anyone who wants to market products, services, events or otherwise, even though they perform different functions.
An influencer is a person (or an AI) who collaborates with brands to represent them and their products and services on their own social media accounts.
Thanks to the success and results that countless influencers have experienced in a short time, the market continues to grow and the number of influencers has exploded in recent years. Today, influencer marketing is a normal part of our everyday lives and there is no indication that this would change, in fact, influencer marketing is constantly being optimized so that campaigns can achieve better and better results.