Not sure how to define Influencer Marketing? Let’s play a little something called the word association game. Have you heard of it? When you hear (or in this case, read) a word, say the first thing that comes to mind. (Example: if I said “dog”, you might say “cat”). Alright, let’s go:
(climb; on; music)
(inspiring action; authenticity;
Alright, thanks for playing. Now, let’s cut to the chase: The Kardashians, Beyonce, etc., should not be associated with “influencer marketing”. Why not? Scott Monty explained it best: “Social media influencers typically have a closer relationship with their audience than celebrities do. They’re expected to be authentic and therefore are more trusted.”
So, if Kim K. doesn’t define influencer marketing, what does? In this post, I’ve included some of the key words (and definitions) that are often associated with influencer marketing. But before we do that, let’s go over what influencer marketing is not.
What it’s not:
Influencer marketing is not only rapidly growing as an established marketing strategy, it’s here to stay. Influencer marketing isn’t a fad and it’s not going away. It’s not about hiring celebrities to talk about your brand. Influencers are not just people with large followings, they’re individuals who may already be your fans; your biggest advocates. Sure, Kim K. and Queen Bey have massive reach, but influencer marketing is more than broadcasting a message to a bunch of people, hoping someone will bite. *fingers crossed*
Vincenzo Landino describes it well:
Brian Solis coined the term ‘Pillars of Influence’ describing it as reach, relevance and resonance. Influencers are more than just popular people, they incite action. Did you buy Pepsi because Beyonce is associated with it? You thought about it. Did Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods cause you to think you can play basketball, or golf, and buy Nike? What these individuals possess is CELEBRITY. Celebrity, in turn, gives them reach and relevance and the right deal will create resonance with the audience. They are inspiring people to take action, therefore, have influence.” Key words: inspiring people to take action.
What it is:
Influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to their own following or tribe. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers via a spray and pray method, you hire influencers to get the word out for you. Influencers are passionate about your product and/or service and want to share why they love you with their followers.
Influencers typically have solid followings and a notable impact within their online communities. It’s common that influencers are able to mobilize opinions, create reactions, and amplify messages to their followers—people who support, believe in, and trust their viewpoint. That being said, it can be difficult for brands to adapt because they have to completely give up the steering power and let the influencers do the driving.
Influencer Marketing Terminology
#ad* – Hashtags that are used to call out a sponsored social media post. They are recommended by FTC guidelines for ensuring advertising truth. (Pro tip: Not to worry. The Tap FOFU guide is here to help, it’s the quintessential guide every social media savvy marketer needs to CYA when it comes to influencer marketing.)
Advocates – Customers and employees of companies who promote the business without being formally contracted or asked to do so. Advocates have genuine love for a brand and its offerings, so they’ll speak highly of them to show their appreciation.
Authenticity – The act of being genuine, original, and real. It’s important for brands to allow influencers to talk about their product or service in their own authentic voice. Consumers see right through the bullsh*t.
Brand Ambassador – Ambassadors are hired by brands as part-time or full-time employees to be the consumer-facing extension of the company. They live and breathe branded messaging. #preach
Content Creator – A subset of influencers. These people use the internet to craft and share their work. From YouTube vloggers and Instagrammers to bloggers and Snapchatters, their focus is on creating, informing, educating and/or entertaining.
Influencers – Consumers who have built a trusted tribe by providing meaningful, relevant content in their own voice. They inspire action.
Influencer Marketing – A type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you.
Influencer Network – An organization, often backed by a larger media company, that manages the careers of social media influencers and facilitates larger brand collaborations than might be possible for individuals to manage on their own. These are often platform specific, for example, designated networks for YouTube influencers or Instagram influencers.
Macro-Influencer – Influencers with 250,000+ followers. They have built large audiences and provide significant reach to brands. They may not be able to create the same level of engagement as an influencer with a smaller following due to the size of their audience.
Micro-Influencer – Influencers with less than 10,000 followers. Many of them are focused on niche areas either by interest or geography. Because of the smaller audience size, ‘micros’ tend to be highly engaged, creating a high degree of loyalty.
Native Advertising – Online content that it is created for paid promotion on a media site that doesn’t use a traditional ad format such as a banner ad, but includes editorial content (i.e, blog post or infographic).
Organic Social – Social media engagement that isn’t paid. #AuNaturel
Paid Social – Most social platforms allow marketers to pay to play—i.e. pay to promote their posts, making them visible to a larger audience than they would reach naturally. (Note: Paid influencers could also be considered paid social since brands are exchanging money for shares and engagement.)
Passion Brands – Brands that already have large consumer engagement and awareness, such as Nike, Disney, and Apple.
The Power Middle – The emerging majority of influencers, with followings of 10,000 – 250,0000. These influencers are considered subject matter experts in areas of mass appeal such as DIY, recipes, fashion, parenting, etc.
Social Celebrity – The 1% of influencers who have become household names among millennials and centennials. These influencers are much like traditional celebrities in that they tend to be significantly more expensive for brands to engage, and more endorsement-focused from a consumer perspective. Example: Emily Schuman of Cupcakes & Cashmere and Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam
Social Reach – This refers to the combined audience size of an influencer across their blog and social channels. This is the number many marketers are looking at when they’re considering which influencers to engage. But remember: reach isn’t always key. Focus on relevance as well.
*Sponsored Content – Content from influencers that brands have paid to have produced. It is a form of paid advertising, but in a format that is native to the channel in which it is featured. #ad
Influencer marketing is a phrase that has been thrown around quite a bit lately, but many people are quick to admit that it’s a newer concept they don’t fully understand. What industry professionals do know is that it’s gaining steam and now is the time to figure out how to incorporate it into your marketing strategy.
Oh, and one more thing: If you want to sound like you know your sh*t when it comes to influencer marketing, keep Kim K and Queen Bey outta it.
Michelle Dziuban (Joo-bin) is the Manager of Marketing Communications at TapInfluence. A recent transplant from Chicago, you can find her enjoying all that Colorado has to offer or on her yoga mat (#Namaslay). Follow her on Twitter @dziubs.
**Want a more in-depth look into influencer marketing? Check out our Ultimate Influencer Marketing Guide.