What is an influencer?

What is an influencer?

An article caught my eye the other day thanks to a very eye-catching headline. It read: “Influencer Marketing is Bulls***” (I think you can work out what the last word is!)

As clickbait goes, this was a pretty well executed headline and it prompted me to read the entire piece. But is the author of the article, a certain Matthew Hughes, actually right about influencer marketing?

Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Firstly, let’s determine what an influencer actually is.

If you open up an app like Instagram on your phone right now and start scrolling, you’ll find a bucket load of posts featuring some form of influencer marketing. That is, products, services etc. that are marketed in some way by an influential person.

These so-called influencers help to drive conversation and engagement around a brand’s products and message. They can have anywhere from hundreds of thousands to tens or hundreds of millions of followers; and they are just about everywhere.

Whether or not their posts have somehow influenced your decision to purchase something is not the point. The fact that these brands have grabbed your attention and made a positive impression that is perceived as genuine, is what counts.

Perception plays a huge role in shaping the image of a brand. Strong brand perception equals strong brand. The reality is, influencers have fast evolved into an effective and scalable marketing channel that brands can no longer afford to ignore. But to understand ‘how’ or ‘why’ we now have these people clogging up our social media feeds, we need to look at the ‘who’ and ‘what’.

Millennials and Generation Z are now the biggest consumer demographic (i.e.) young people under the age of 35. Young people aren’t as influenced by adverts on TV and see influencers as more authentic than actors, athletes and musicians. So instead of Leonardo Di Caprio trying to sell you a can of Coke, it’s more believable if it comes from an influencer that young people can identify with.

Consumer behavior, whether we like it or not, is shifting away from television and mainstream celebrities — toward social media channels and influencers who drive content within those channels. So whether it’s nonsense or not, it’s here to stay and we need to get used to it.