What is an Influencer? Influencer Marketing Explained (2021)

What exactly is an influencer? An influencer is anybody who has the capability to sway the purchasing decisions of others because of his/her knowledge, expertise, authority, or relationship with his/her audience.

They say that as long as you have a camera and a good following on Instagram then you can be an influencer. 

However, influencers are more than just people with huge followings on social media.

Contrary to popular belief, influencers have long existed even before the digital era.

Ever since the beginning of marketing and advertising, companies were already working with people in positions of power to promote products and services to people. 

According to the history of advertising, the Pope and the Queen used to campaign for the use of medicine by common people during times where the masses were skeptical about medical interventions. 

Today, influencers have evolved with time and technology. We see them in various digital platforms penetrating every niche across multiple industries.

And people love them and trust them more than they do brand advertising alone.

Because of this, influencer marketing is one of the most important digital marketing strategies you need to have. However, you can’t just tap into any influencer. 

There are different kinds of influencers and it’s essential to know which type is best for your business. But before we discuss the different types of marketing, let us first answer the most frequently asked questions about them. 

What is an Influencer?

Influencers can be anybody who has a significant impact on the actions and opinions of others. They can be regular people, journalists, thought leaders, celebrities, etc. 

It’s important to keep in mind that influencers are not merely marketing tools, but rather social relationship assets you can work with to help you achieve your marketing goals. 

Influencers are highly effective at what they do. They’re great communicators, trustworthy, persuasive, highly engaging, and are considered as though leaders. 

What is a Social Media Influencer?

Social media influencers are people who have established their credibility in a specific industry because of their knowledge and expertise. They have a relatively large following on social media with whom he or she actively engages with. 

Their followers see them as persons in authority who can help them make better purchasing decisions. 

Social media influencers constantly share content with their followers on social media, which their followers pay close attention to. 

They’re also updated with the current happenings in their respective industries. In fact, most of them start trends.  

What Do Influencers Do?

It might surprise you that influencers do more than just take photos of themselves. Influencers put so much work into curating content for the benefit of their followers. 

From deliberating what topics to discuss to researching the subject to taking on photo or video editing and publishing.

They need to be very careful in whatever it is that they produce or publish because people are looking. 

Their followers trust them and depend on them.  

What is an Influencer’s Role in Marketing?

Influencers play an important role in marketing. 

They promote products, services, and businesses through social media, a community, a consumer group, or an organization. 

Brands love them because they can persuade their followers to buy their products and services by simply recommending the brand, sharing brand content, providing testimonials, writing reviews, telling stories about the brand, and starting conversations with other consumers about the brand.  

Now that we’ve answered influencer FAQs. It’s time to discuss the different types of influencers. 

What are the Different Types of Influencers?

You can differentiate influencers based on the number of followers they have, the kinds of topics they talk about, the niche they operate in, and their level of influence. 

1. Based on the Number of Followers

1a. Mega-Influencers 

Mega influencers are people who have more than 1 million followers on at least one of their social media channels. 

Usually, mega-influencers are celebrities who have gained their popularity offline, like sportspeople, musicians, movie stars, and other TV personalities. 

However, many influencers with more than 1 million followers are not celebrities. They’ve gained their vast following from their social and online activities. 

Mega-influencers can charge more than $1 million per post. So, basically, only big brands and mega-corporations can afford their services. A lot of mega-influencers are extra-careful about who they partner with, and they usually have agents to negotiate for them. 

Mega influencers have a vast diversity of followers, so they’re perfect for mega-brands who aim to target the masses. But if your products are very niche, then they’re not the best people to collaborate with.

Examples of mega-influencers are Kevin Hart, Christiano Ronaldo, Kylie Jenner, and Beyonce.

1b. Macro-Influencers

Macro-influencers are social media influencers who have a following of between 100,000 to 1 million. 

They differ from mega-influencers based on the fact that they earned their popularity online through vlogging or blogging.

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Macro-influencers are considered to be experts in their field and can produce high-quality content regularly. 

They generally have a high profile, so they’re great for raising awareness and educating the public. 

Although macro-influencers are more targeted they still appeal to a large part of the population. They’re also more affordable, so they will make a great ambassador for your brand. 

1c. Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers have about 1,000 to 100,000 followers. 

They cater to a group of people with specific interests. Although they have fewer followers compared to macro and mega-influencers, they are still considered to be thought leaders in their field. 

They have a huge level of influence over their devoted followers because of their relationship and close interaction with them. People also see them as regular people so they come across as relatable and believable. 

They’re great for you if you’re a start-up or a new brand.

1d. Nano-Influencers

Nano-influencers have less than 1,000 followers. 

They cater to a very specific group of people with very specific interests, thus their small number of following. 

They’re considered to be thought leaders in their field and have a strong influence on their immediate community, friends, family, and other people who have the same interests.  

If your product or services are highly niche, then nano influencers are the right type of brand ambassadors for your business. 

But if you want to be able to reach a broad audience, then you may have to work with several of them. 

2. Based on the Type of Content they Produce

2a. YouTubers

In this digital era, video is king! 

More than 500 million hours of video are being watched each day on YouTube. 

This doesn’t include the number of hours people spend watching videos on Facebook, Instagram, and other video streaming apps. It just shows how much people love watching videos! 

Youtubers are content creators that focus on providing valuable information or entertainment through video. 

The most popular types of YouTube channels have something to do with food, travel, gaming, beauty & fashion, entertainment, science and technology, and sports. 

Some of the most famous YouTubers are PewDiePie, James Charles, Smosh, and Ryan’s Toys Reviews.

Collaborating with YouTubers who your audience is an avid fan of can help your business in many ways. It can get your products or services in front of a larger audience, which can increase your reach. 

By creating a review of your products or services and recommending them to their followers, YouTubers can help you build trust with your target audience, generate high-quality leads, and boost your sales. 

2b. Bloggers

Bloggers are predominantly micro-bloggers who produce relevant content regularly. 

A lot of people find bloggers trustworthy and relatable because their content is informational yet conversational and personal. Because of this, they have the most authentic relationships with their audience. 

Fashion, food, lifestyle, travel, fitness, music, DIY, and sports blog are the most popular types of blogs that exist. If a popular blogger in your industry mentions your brand in their post, it can lead to their followers buying from you. 

To be able to get a blogger in your industry to recommend your products or services, then consider buying a sponsored post on their site or guest posting. 

If they like your article, they’ll publish it on their blog and they might even make a blog post featuring you. 

Guest posting is a great opportunity to get your brand in front of a bigger audience. Plus, you get to control the content and you can put a link to your website in the author’s bio section. 

What many people don’t realize is that even though we live in the era of video, blogs are still able to generate leads effectively. 

In fact, businesses that use blogging as a marketing strategy see 13 times the ROI of companies that don’t. 

However, many people fear that blogging will soon be dead given how other forms of content are more popular with the masses, like video and infographics. 

Although you’ll need to try a little harder to get people to read your blogs because of all the other ways they can access this information without reading, it doesn’t mean that blogging will lose its effectiveness. 

Blogs will stand the test of time because there will always be people who prefer to read blogs to learn something new, to be entertained, and to learn trends related to subjects they’re interested in. 

You want to maximize every potential customer on every platform, so go ahead and partner with a blogger or start writing yourself!

Some of the most famous bloggers are Brian Dean of Backlinko.com, Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com, and Harvey Levin of TMZ. 

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2c. Podcasters

A podcast is the digital version of a radio broadcast. 

Podcasting is becoming increasingly popular even among Gen Z. In fact, 32% of Generation Z categorizes themselves as regular podcast listeners. The top 3 most popular genres of podcasts are comedy, news, and true crime.

You can partner with podcasters to reach out to new audiences. They can get you new leads too! 

According to statistics, more than half of podcast listeners are more likely to consider buying from a brand after hearing their ads on a podcast episode. 

Some of the most famous podcasters are Jillian Michaels, Michael Rapaport, and Joe Rogan, and Freddie Prinze, Jr.

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2d. Instagram Influencers

Most, if not all, YouTubers, bloggers, and podcasters have social media accounts with large followings. 

However, some influencers focus on social posts only, specifically on Instagram. They’re social media influencers dedicated to curating aesthetically pleasing and stunning visuals. 

They don’t have a YouTube channel, blog, or podcast channel, yet they still have a relatively large number of followers.

Instagram Influencers are content creators who share visual content on Instagram, which builds communities around topics and niches.  

They usually cover subjects like photography, travel, food, fitness, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. 

Tapping Instagram influencers to promote your products and services can help you big time, especially if you’re a startup. These influencers post curated content regularly. 

Users see them as authentic because they know that they’re not paid millions to endorse brands or products and services.

Examples of Instagram Influencers are Zo Suen, Jay Alvarez, and Savannah Montano.

3. Based on Their Level of Influence

3a. Advocates

Advocates are social media influencers who can help you get new customers by talking positively about your brand, by doing a product review, or initiate conversations around what you have to offer. 

Partnering with them is strategic because they usually have a close relationship with their followers. So, when they advocate for you, you just know that their followers will most likely buy from you. 

An example of an advocate influencer is Hayley, founder of The Gentle Mama.

She is a blogger influencer with a sizable community that advocates for gentle parenting and respectful sleep coaching. 

As a mom herself, she believes that instincts are the most powerful tool as parents and that following a baby’s cues leads to a happier and healthy baby.

Not only does Hayley educate parents about infant sleep through her blog, but she is also actively advocating attachment parenting in her community.

If your brand has something to do with infant products, then collaborating with her can increase your reach and sales!

3b. Referrers

Referrers are influencers who drive people to your site, social media pages, ecommerce store, or physical store.

They are trusted in the industry, so when they make a recommendation for your products or services, people will immediately try them out. You can capitalize on this by negotiating with them so that you’re the only brand they will recommend. 

A great example of a referrer is Cassey Ho of Blogilates. 

She is a YouTuber with a massive following on YouTube and Instagram. When it comes to fitness, she has all the workout routines you need to get fit! 

She can motivate her followers to get up and workout. Her followers love her because her workouts are quick, effective, and doable! She also interacts with her followers regularly. 

Imagine if your business was fitness-related and you asked her if she could recommend your latest protein bar snacks. For sure, her followers will switch out their snacks with your health bars!

3c. Loyalists

Last but not least are the loyalists. 

These people love you, your products and services, and everything you have to offer in-between. 

These people have seen you grow as a brand, supported you through ups and downs, and believe in you completely. Loyalists can be anyone, from your fans to customers up to employees. 

Are You Looking for Social Media Influencers to Work With?

In this digital era, social media influencers play an important role in the success of your digital marketing campaigns.

Tapping into the right influencers can help establish trust in your audience, get your brand in front of the right people, and boost your sales. 

This 2021, consider collaborating with an influencer in your industry to help your business grow!

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