Influencer marketing isn’t new; it’s taken a number of forms over the years and is constantly evolving, but the concept remains the same: people are more likely to take an action if someone they are familiar with and someone they trust encourages them to do so. There are numerous types of influencers and ways to leverage them. Celebrity testimonials are some of the most obvious, in-your-face forms of influencer marketing, but they’ve been a longstanding fallback for brands for a reason. More subtle approaches include endorsements and product placement – when people see LeBron James rocking a pair of Beats by Dre (likely sent to him for free), or Kobe Bryant wearing Nikes through a shoe endorsement deal, they start to consider these purchases as well.
Where influencer marketing has really grown and evolved in the last decade is in the social space: some Instagram models are making thousands (or even millions) of dollars to feature clothing in their photos; popular cooking blogs often promote and recommend preferred equipment to readers; parenting blogs make endorsements for books, technology or other items parents can use. At Prosio Communications, we often partner with likeminded influencers to extend messaging and to help incite positive behavior change.
Endorsements work because they come from people the target audience admires or respects. This combats what people already know about advertising, which is: “Of course you’re going to tell me that YOUR product is great.” Instead, just like Amazon reviews, endorsements help people bypass their inherent skepticism of advertising.
Social influencer marketing takes this a step further: influencers tend to be people that aren’t just famous or admired – they often provide some kind of expertise to their followers. Instagram models are well-dressed and versed in the latest fashion trends; cooking bloggers provide tried and true recipes; parenting bloggers give tips and advice that work; social justice activists have a track record of mobilizing people. All of this cultivates a sense of trust that when an influencer endorses a product or behavior, it comes from an informed place and people are more likely to seriously consider the advice.
This isn’t to say you should go abandon all of your marketing and advertising efforts in favor of an influencer marketing strategy. Like all other communications efforts, influencer marketing works in tandem with your other efforts to give you a well-rounded program and reach people at every stage of the funnel. Advertising and marketing brings broad awareness to your products or programs and primes people for when you implement your influencer marketing strategy. And, counterintuitively, while people are generally skeptical of advertising, it still helps establish legitimacy. People may not be sold on a product just because they see it on TV or hear about it on the radio, or even when they see digital ads, but they’re more likely to be convinced that the company is legitimate and at least worth their time to look into them.
If you’re curious on how to begin leveraging influencer marketing, or whether that strategy makes sense for you, we’re here to help! Just shoot us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org