Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole on social media. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.
Influencer content may be framed as testimonial advertising where they play the role of a potential buyer themselves, or they may be third parties. These third parties exist either in the supply chain (retailers, manufacturers, etc.) or may be so-called value-added influencers (such as journalists, academics, industry analysts, and professional advisers).
Most discussion on the generic topic of social influence centres on compliance and persuasion in a social environment. In the context of influencer marketing, influence is less about argument and coercion to a particular point of view and more about loose interactions between various parties in a community. Influence is often equated to advocacy, but may also be negative, and is thus related to concepts of promoters and detractors.
The idea of a “two-step flow of communication” was introduced in “The People’s Choice” (Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet, a 1940 study on the decision making process of voters). This idea was further developed in “Personal Influence” (Lazarsfeld, Elihu Katz 1955) and “The Effects of Mass Communication” (Joseph Klapper 1960).
Influencer marketing tends to be broken into two sub-practices: earned influencer marketing and paid influencer marketing. Earned marketing stems from unpaid or preexisting relationships with influencers or third party content that is promoted by the influencer to further their own personal social growth. Paid influencer marketing campaigns can take the form of sponsorship, pre-roll advertising or testimonial messaging and can appear at any point in the content. Budgets vary widely and are usually based on audience reach. Most influencers are paid upfront before a marketing campaign while others are paid after the execution of the marketing campaign.
Influencer marketing, in a commercial context, comprises four main activities:
Influencer marketing is continuously improved by constant evaluation done simultaneously with the four main activities.
In order to achieve the purpose of the business clients, influencers should deliver a change in attitude towards the client’s brand or product. The change of the attitude from the viewer takes places from the contents that influencer produces. The change itself is believed as a psychological process in human mind. The psychological process can be explained under the RACE model (reach, act, convert and engage). These four steps are designed to help brands engage with their customers throughout the customer lifecycle.
The first step in influencer marketing is to identify influencers. They are specific to discrete market segments, and are used as conduits to the entire target segment. While there are lists of generic influencers (such as the Time 100), they have limited use in marketing programmes targeted at specific segments.
Market research techniques can be used to identify influencers, using pre-defined criteria to determine the extent and type of influence.