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The Rise Of Influencer Marketing


Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, 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.

The first approach to that theory comes from a communication classic, The People´s Choice (Lazarsfeld and Katz), a 1940 study on political communication that was also known as Multistep flow model, that claims that the majority of people are influenced by secondhand information and opinion leaders.

The two-step flow of communication model says that most people form their opinions under the influence of opinion leaders, who in turn are influenced by the mass media. In contrast to the one-step flow of the hypodermic needle model or magic bullet theory, which holds that people are directly influenced by mass media, according to the two-step flow model, ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders, and from them to a wider population.

Social influence which has be gaining mass traction in recent years occurs when one's emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by others.Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales and marketing. In 1958, Harvard psychologist, Herbert Kelman identified three broad varieties of social influence.

1- Compliance is when people appear to agree with others, but actually keep their dissenting opinions private.

2 - Identification is when people are influenced by someone who is liked and respected, such as a famous celebrity.

3 - Internalisation is when people accept a belief or behavior and agree both publicly and privately.

Social Influence is a broad term that relates to many different phenomena.

Most discussion on the generic topic of social influence centers 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.

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.

Some marketers use influencer marketing to establish credibility in the market, others to create social conversations around their brand, others yet to drive online or in-store sales of their products. Therefore, the value that influencer marketing creates can be measured in multiple ways.

Some marketers measure Earned Media Value (EMV), others track impressions, and others track Cost Per Action (CPA).

Influencer marketing derives its value from 3 sources:

Social reach: Influencers are able to reach millions of consumers through their social channels and blogs.

Original content: Influencers produce original, and oftentimes effective, marketing content for the brand.

Consumer trust: Influencers maintain strong relationships with their audience, who have a certain level of trust in the influencer’s opinions.

Influencer Marketing, as increasingly practiced in a commercial context, comprises four main activities:

Identifying influencers, and ranking them in order of importance.

Marketing to influencers, to increase awareness of the firm within the influencer community. Marketing through influencers, using influencers to increase market awareness of the firm amongst target markets. Marketing with influencers, turning influencers into advocates of the firm.

Exactly what is included in Influencer Marketing depends on the context (B2C or B2B) and the medium of influence transmission (online or offline, or both). But it is increasingly accepted that companies are keen to identify and engage with influencers.

Market research techniques can be used to identify influencers, using pre-defined criteria to determine the extent and type of influence.

For example, attributes of influencers:

Activists: influencers get involved, with their communities, political movements, charities and so on.

Connected: influencers have large social networks.

Impact: influencers are looked up to and are trusted by others.

Active minds: influencers have multiple and diverse interests.

Trendsetters: influencers tend to be early adopters (or leavers) in markets.

Educators - Thrive on helpfulness and insightfulness.

Coaches - Thrive on helpfulness and engagement.

Entertainers - Thrive on engagement and inspiration.

Charismatics - Thrive on insightfulness and inspiration.

Not all business influencers are equal. Some have more influence than others, and some mechanism of ranking is required, to distinguish between key influencers and less impactful people.

A model for ranking business influencers has been developed by Influencer50, thus:

Market reach – the number of people an individual has the ability to connect with.

Independence – whether an influencer has a vested interest in promoting a particular point of view.

Frequency of Impact – the number of opportunities an individual has to influence buying decisions.

Expertise – how much of a subject matter expert is the influencer.

Persuasiveness - the degree of consequence in ignoring an influencer's advice.

Thoroughness of role - the extent to which influence is exerted across the decision lifecycle.

There are at least 70 companies offering online influence measurement. Advocates of this online-only approach claim that online activity reflects (or pre-empts) the trends in offline transactions.

There many types of companies offering influencer marketing services and software.

The influencer marketing landscape is a fragmented space with 133 providers. The providers can be broken down into 3 distinct types.

Managed campaigns: These are companies that run full-service campaigns. They act as a middleman between buyers (usually agencies or brands) and influencers, although they mostly do not have exclusivity with influencers. They have no proprietary technology and charge a flat fee for the campaign, from which they take a commission fee.

Marketplaces: These companies have a network of influencers that can be hired through their online portals. They have some proprietary technology and charge a commission on each influencer payment.

Software as a Service: These companies provide software for buyers (usually agencies and brands) to manage their own influencer relationships and programs. With SaaS companies, the buyer owns the influencer relationships. These companies charge a software license.

The term celebrity has changed since I was a child. Celebrities where famous for a skill or a talent but this has diversified. Where once only movie stars, singers, comedians or sports stars represented by agents that would fit under this classification, social media influencers are now working their way to the forefront. My children's generation turn to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in search of their social influencers.

These influencers are the fashionistas, bloggers, trainers and influencers who have become famous amongst this generations social circles.

Unlike TV that suffered from fragmentation years ago. This channel starts from a position of fragmentation, there are thousands of influencers and micro influencers to choose from if you wish to leverage their audience.

It will be interesting over the next few years to see how influence marketing changes and evolves.

Grant Saxon Rowe

General Manager – Submission Technology Ltd

General Manager –


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