According to Forbes, modern influencer marketing has been around since the 1930s, though its roots can be traced to ancient Rome, when gladiators also indulged in product endorsements. However, the word "influencer" became part of the modern lexicon in the past decade and was only officially included in the English dictionary in 2019. With the increased relevance of digital marketing all over the world, influencer marketing has gradually emerged as a viable option for practitioners.
This post takes a look at what influencer marketing is and why it’s becoming increasingly important in 2023.
Who is an Influencer?
An influencer is often an individual (may also be a brand, group, etc.) with the ability or power to affect the purchasing decisions of others. This power is usually derived from the influencer’s knowledge, authority, position, trustworthiness/credibility, or relationship with his or her audience. Influencers must have a following in a particular niche and must also actively engage with their followers from time to time.
Influencers may be high-profile people, such as famous celebrities, or people who have managed to establish a sizable online audience and therefore can use their considerable popularity to help promote products and services. The demand for influencers has been on the rise, especially now that word-of-mouth recommendations and criticisms can be disseminated very quickly through social media channels.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Not only can influencers exert considerable influence on their audience, but they can also reach them easily. Reach and influence are ideal conditions for brands trying to promote their products and services to a larger target audience. It is this significant advertising potential that gave rise to the influencer marketing concept.
Influencer marketing can be defined as a marketing strategy whereby brands engage with respected or influential personalities with many followers (usually on Internet social media platforms) for the purpose of creating brand awareness, driving traffic, generating leads, and making sales.
As noted earlier, influencer marketing is not an entirely new concept, though its usage today is mostly based on Internet social media platforms, which are a more recent phenomenon.
Before getting involved in influencer marketing, it’s vital to have a strong understanding of the rules that govern it. These rules tend to vary from country to country. In the United States, influencer marketing rules are under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Types of Influencers (Based on Follower Count)
One of the biggest factors that attracts brands to influencers is their number of followers. This led to a classification of influencers according to the number of followers they have, as shown below.
- Mega-influencers: Have over 1 million followers
- Macro-influencers: Have between 500 thousand and 1 million followers
- Mid-tier influencers: Have between 50 thousand and 500 thousand followers
- Micro-influencers: Have between 10 thousand and 50 thousand followers
- Nano-influencers: Have between 1 thousand and 10 thousand followers
The Importance of Influencer Marketing for Your Brand in 2023
Forbes has already noted that influencer marketing “could become one of the most powerful marketing tools in 2023.” Influencer Marketing Hub estimates that the influencer marketing industry was valued at USD 1.7 billion in 2016. By 2022, that valuation had risen to USD 16.4 billion, an almost tenfold increase. Further growth is expected in the market in 2023.
Here are some reasons why every serious brand should integrate influencer marketing into its business model.
Boosts Brand Awareness
78% of marketers say they use influencers to create brand awareness. Partnering with influencers is one sure way of creating much-needed awareness for your brand, thanks to their wider reach and often greater followership. The idea is that the influencer’s followers will patronize your products and/or services because someone they perceive as a knowledgeable and trusted authority is recommending them. If you are well-versed in marketing, you’ll know that increased brand awareness has a multiplicity of benefits that range from more website traffic to increased conversions, among others.
Ensures Precise Targeting
Every effective digital marketing strategy should include using the right tools to target the right people via the right mediums, at the right time. You may consider a niche influencer as the right tool and his audience as the right people.
One lesson here is that it is most optimal to hire an influencer that operates in the same niche as your product or service offerings since his followers will constitute a viable market for your brand and are more likely to trust his opinions than if it were a product or service from an unfamiliar niche.
Improved Content Strategy
Influencers derive their authority and finances from producing engaging, high-quality content for their followers. Partnering with an influencer can help you adopt new measures aimed at modifying your content strategy for better results. Integrating your influencer’s ideas into your content creation efforts can add a new dimension to the self-promotional content you publish frequently.
Content is often viewed as more authentic and trustworthy if it is created by an influencer. And when such content resonates highly with your audience, then there’s a higher probability of them sharing it all over the Internet and beyond, meaning more visibility and accessibility for your content across audiences you probably haven't reached.
Another perk here is the many user-generated content that collaborating with an influencer will provide. Sharing such content can alter your followers’ views of your social media posts (e.g., among followers who may view your pre-influencer posts as monotonous or predictable). Overall, adding new influencer-inspired ideas to your existing content strategy can help make your audience trust you more and motivate them to patronize (or at least try) your products and/or services.
74% of marketers in one survey say sales conversion is one of their top goals for indulging in influencer marketing. This goal eventually becomes a reality for those who use influencer marketing wisely. Influencers work very hard to earn the trust of their followers. This partly explains why 50% of millennials trust product recommendations from influencers.
Because of their significant ability to influence the purchase decisions of their followers, having an influencer promote your brand, product, or service can attract more sales and thus boost your revenue profile. The greater the number of followers the influencer has, the greater your likelihood of more conversions.
Things such as an influencer product promotion, testimonials, positive feedback, or reviews not only have the potential for financial reward but can also provide a brand with non-pecuniary benefits such as increased trust and credibility. Higher levels of trust and credibility enhance your company’s reputation, especially if you back your influencer’s endorsement with excellent product or service delivery.
When people begin to trust your brand’s reputation more, brand followership and loyalty are bound to increase, and with time, you are likely to become an influencer as well.
Higher Search Engine Rankings
In addition to its several other benefits, influencer marketing can improve your rankings on search engines such as Google, which means even more visibility for your website.
How? When you increase awareness for your brand through influencer marketing, you tend to attract more traffic to your website. Also, as you share your content on social media and other mediums, you are likely to increase your number of high-quality and authentic backlinks. Moreover, there is also the tendency that the quality of your content will improve when you collaborate with an influencer (since they are reputed to be knowledgeable or authoritative).
All these can help improve your search engine rankings and accelerate the growth of your business.
Greater Audience Engagement
It can be herculean to increase the number of likes and comments on your social media posts. However, without the right level of engagement, even a million followers will not translate into much. Influencer marketing can also be very useful in this regard.
For one, it has already been noted that collaborating with influencers can enhance the quality of your content, thus making it more user-centric and increasing the likelihood of more engagement. In addition, as your influencer shares your content on his social media profiles, his audience will also engage with it and share it even further if they like it. All these imply increased reach for your brand and a potential for more revenue through conversions.
Influencer marketing is an ancient concept that has witnessed a modern revival with the emergence and popularity of digital technologies such as the Internet. Because of the relatively higher costs of conventional advertising, online influencer marketing can be a cost-effective way of creating brand awareness and attracting the necessary patronage to your products and/or services. Indeed, the several benefits derivable from influencer marketing mean that it will continue to be an important component of marketing in 2023 and beyond.
However, like many other related concepts, influencer marketing is not something to be applied arbitrarily but is guided by rules that all interested parties are expected to follow. These rules are often country-specific. In the US, they are overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).