What is influencer marketing?

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In-flu-en-cer: perhaps among the most commonly used terminology in the social media world, particularly throughout the last few years. In recent years, public figures of all walks of life have become part of a network in which their career is derived from their social media presence. They promote products, services, ideas, and other messages on their platforms that have substantial followings. Primarily, an influencer does EXACTLY what the word implies: he or she influences his/her following, promoting brands that resonate with the demographics within his or her audience.

So then, what is influencer marketing? Influencer marketing is a social media marketing tactic that influencers take to their platforms to generate awareness of the brand they are promoting. Depending on the social media channel, a sponsored post by an influencer could be a photo incorporating product placement, a video discussing the brand, or a tweet explaining the brand.

Influencer marketing is much easier to digest when you realize the concept itself has been around for ages in the advertising industry, but on other channels and with different kinds of people. For instance, the highly renowned General Mills breakfast cereal known as “Wheaties” has been around since the 1920s, and during that century, it would receive credibility through celebrity endorsements from athletes specifically, and still does to this day with people like Serena Williams and Michael Jordan. Commercials use celebrities—an “earlier” form of influencer marketing.

With an overwhelming variety of ways for users to consume media, and therefore an abundance of channels to promote advertising and marketing, influencer marketing has turned into its own industry. It’s a full-time career path for people on the Internet. The internet influencer population began predominantly with content creators who already existed on the Internet for particular reasons. These creators came from places like YouTube, where they had accumulated a large following through their videos, often with a specific niche. So brands would pick and choose which YouTubers they felt would be an ideal face for their product or service. These content creators would then take to their YouTube videos and insert clips promoting their brand sponsor, and then post about it on their other platforms like Instagram as well—it was a mutualistic relationship because the YouTuber’s videos would get monetized, and the brand would reap the benefits of that YouTuber’s audience. 

These days, anyone can be an influencer as long as they have a large following, and therefore a significant influence on a particular crowd. For example, a female college student who posts trendy photos in fashionable clothing and has more than 8,000 Instagram followers might get approached by a boutique whose target audience is college-aged women. That student would then get paid to post influential photos in that boutique’s clothing to promote its goods. She would be considered a “micro-influencer.” 

Influencer marketing can be a great tool for your brand, and actually, take away a lot of the execution from you. You can provide your influencer with however few or many criteria that should be included in the post. Still, then they can take the reins on the creativity that goes into it to make it fit seamlessly into their own personal brand. Consumers also spend more time on the Internet these days amid the rampant digital age, so they cannot help but stumble upon these brand promotions and interact with them somehow. Before you embark on the compelling journey of influencer marketing, as with any other business endeavor, be sure to do an ample amount of research before selecting your ambassadors. These people will be embodying your brand. Not only do you want to make sure you are putting your media dollars into people who fit into your desired demographic, but you also want to make sure that they express themselves in a pleasant, professional, appropriate, and sightly way. 


Grova Creative is a minority and veteran-owned agency headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, and works with clients all across the United States. If you are a business or organization seeking help with advertising, marketing, branding, messaging, marketing, strategy, website development, or other creative assets, email Grova Creative at [email protected] or visit grova.com.

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