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What is an influencer?

Online influencers have become a huge part of online marketing strategies for many different sectors, especially for businesses that a targeting teenagers and young people. But what is an influencer?

An influencer is someone who can have an impact on other peoples’ opinions, behaviours and purchasing decisions. In the past marketing experts have used celebrities and sporting stars to advertise their products but the internet has led to the rise of another type of influencer – those that connect with the audience through blogs and social media.

From Youtubbers showing off the latest consoles game to Instagram stars flaunting their new beauty products, social media influencers have become big business. These individuals have a huge following and will often receive free gifts from companies wanting to reach out to their audience and in some cases influencers will receive money for reviewing products.

Utilising the marketing power of influencers can have a positive impact on a business. In fact, recent research found that social media influencers have as much of an impact on purchasing decisions as friends and family. In a survey around 40% of social media users said they had purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer.

With so many people using social media to talk about their daily lives, picking out top influencer can be difficult. While the number of followers does play an important role, a number of other things are equally as important. Firstly, the engagement they have with their followers is a good indication of how much influence they hold. Someone who has 300k followers but doesn’t connect with them is likely to have less authority than someone with fewer followers that are active.

How effective an influencer is will also depend on each brand picking the right ones for them. It’s important for brands to consider the audience each influencer attracts, how they talk about products and how enthusiastic they are about the item they are offered to promote. How they interact with their audience is also crucial, if they respond to questions, get their audience involved and create a conversation they will have a larger impact.

The shift towards this type of influencers demonstrates the central role that an online presence now plays in marketing. Social media influencers have already changed the way brands talk to their customers and reach out to them and as platforms continue to evolve so will marketing strategies.