Updated: Mar 5, 2021
It is virtually impossible nowadays to open any social media platform without coming across a sponsored post by at least one influencer you’re following. This example of influencer marketing is extremely common, making it a topic that everyone should have some understanding of. However, before delving deeper into how influencer marketing works and why it has become so prevalent in our lives, we should first define it. Influencer marketing refers to strategies that use influencers to convey marketing messages on behalf of corporations and brands.
Today, influencer marketing is a multi-faceted tool that exists in different forms. However, at its start, it was almost exclusively done through sponsored posts where an influencer promoted a brand’s products through a post, or multiple, on their feed. As it grew, it has developed to include different categories, with different price tags, including stories, brand partnerships and has culminated in some businesses making influencers the face of their brand. As the industry developed, it became more regulated with influencers having to announce when their content is sponsored, to ensure transparency. This regulation is necessary since lines are blurred on social media, and it is hard for followers to identify organic content in the midst of advertising. This problem does not exist in the traditional marketing landscape, particularly because traditional celebrities generally have a profession that is separate from their paid promotional work.
The question that remains is why has influencer marketing grown to such a large scale? A big reason behind this is the difference between what influencers offer us as an audience or as consumers and what other traditional celebrities offer. In general, influencers are trusted figures who have a loyal following within a specific community. And while celebrities have fans who admire them and who may be influenced by what they like or what they promote, the relationship between an influencer and their followers tends to feel much more intimate. This is likely due to the fact that influencers gain their following on social media platforms where they share so much of their lives. So, we, as followers, get to feel like we know these people on a much more personal level than we would ever know an actor or singer. Therefore, recently brands have been using influencer marketing increasingly because this intimate relationship seems to be more trusted by consumers, and thus, more effective.