We run into the term “influencer” a lot and, you know, the more I hear the term the more I love to hate it.
“So you’re an influencer marketing company?”
“Oh you help people with a ton of followers, those influencers, get paid.”
“I have a couple followers, can I be an influencer?”
Today’s creators are different from the traditional celebrities consumers already worship. They’re more approachable, closer to a friend than a celebrity. Consumers understand that when Kim Kardashian or Shaq talks about a product, they’re usually getting paid for it. But when these consumers see brands creating content with these social influencers it’s more personal (their audiences come to expect it in exchange for quality content).
That’s because today’s best creators are far more than influencers. They’re independent media and production companies.
We discussed this in the Content Producers Landscape diagram:
But if we reexamine the term “influencer” and break down the three components, it looks something like this:
Look for audience size and diversity. Influencers generally have the ability to drive media impressions, and while this is certainly an important factor when looking at reaching scale with messaging, it’s not the only factor.
Today’s creators are truly talented, and lucky, thanks in part to the lowered barrier to entry in producing and sharing online. When you compare the millions spent creating commercials for tentpole events to the new features the prosumer with iPhones and digital video cameras has access to, you’re looking at a much greater return for the production time spent. It’s just plain efficient to work with producers who know their audiences of scale. It’s not free, but it’s generally more cost-effective.
Additionally, while many have basic skills, there are others with very unique talents, like magic or comedy, skills that make them invaluable for creating stories with photos, videos or other mediums that might not otherwise be achieved.
This is where influence comes in by standard definition: the capacity or power of people or things to be a compelling force on, or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, of others.
And we’re not just talking about the YouTubers and Viners who send teenage girls into flash-mobs at your local mall. Social influencers, in addition to being able to activate their core audiences, often inform tastemakers and early-adopters and hardcore fans, helping to spread that message outward. Influence isn’t always about providing the direct sale to a first-touch audience, but a crucial second touch through a combination of trusted content and word of mouth.
When it comes to identifying how to reach those influenced by these web “influencers,” look for the creators whose followers relate to your brand (through the conversations they have, they products or hobbies they talk about, or even through mining social data to discover the level of brand affinity they and their audience have).
Now there’s people who fit into one of these three buckets, and there are people who fit into all three. The more you’re able to overlap, the greater value a creator has overall.
More in our infographic below: