The latest buzz word in marketing is “influencer.” It may seem that anyone with two thumbs, a semi-artistic eye for photography and a smartphone can be in influencer, but it's actually a multi-million-dollar industry – one marketers need to pay attention to.
Gone are the days of the Paris Hilton “it girl” types. Now, anyone with a blog, Instagram or social media account can make a name for themselves in the personal branding phenomenon that oftentimes baffles marketers.
Social media isn’t just a place for millennials and their trendy food pictures anymore.
In 2016, a reported $31 billion was spent on social media advertising alone. So, if you’re still stuck in the 2000s, it’s time to stop looking at social media from a consumer standpoint and start looking at it as a digital billboard for your brand to reach thousands of potential new customers every second.
What started as an online platform for family and friends to chat has transformed into one of the largest moneymakers in the world, forcing brands to either sign up or sign out completely.
Over time, marketers abused their privilege and burned out the digital world with an influx of ads that left consumers feeling unengaged and unimpressed with ads altogether. In an effort for brands to regain credibility and authenticity with their desensitized audience, the "influencer" was born.
Reinventing the classic word-of-mouth advertising, bloggers, social media mavens and thought leaders, aka influencers, from all over the world and the Internet are now leveraging their follower counts to sell thousands of dollars' worth of product by simply snapping a picture.
What started as a free form of advertising now costs marketers some serious cash, paying thousands to simply be mentioned by some of the bigger names.
Just think of an influencer as an “in-the-know” friend. They’ve always got the trendiest product suggestions and know where to get the best avocado toast. Consumers trust their judgment because they produce authentic content. They are the Madonna’s of the social media world and the youngest entrepreneurs the world has ever seen.
More importantly, consumers look to these trendsetters in fashion, beauty, fitness travel, etc. when making a purchase. Influencers even have the ability to shift a consumer’s buying power from one product to another.
If this concept makes no sense to you, that's OK. You’re in the majority.
But, getting caught up in the "why" will set your brand behind. Consider the fact that advertisers spent more than $570 million dollars in influencer marketing on Instagram alone in 2016. This is one marketing tactic that’s sure to stick around for a while.