Defining An "Influencer"
Words & Analysis by Fashion Beauty Monitor
Influencers have been around for as long as marketing has been, but historically, they would have been the press, owned media, celebrities and other well-known and well- respected figures. Today, the social media space, and particularly the blogosphere and YouTube, are nurturing the talents of a new breed of influencer, who can very often come from nowhere, and over a fairly short period of time, amass thousands, to millions upon millions of followers.
These ‘new’ influencers are, in a nutshell, content creators, who wield their influence through their independence of opinions and personality, and ultimately their social clout. While they might be collaborating with a brand, and nowadays often be receiving substantial payment or incentive in order to write or talk about them, they ultimately have final say over what they create and publish.
As one might expect, the millennial generation is nurturing many of these new ‘influencers’. Wishing to understand more about the media consumption habits of this generation of consumers, The Economist worked with Bloom Worldwide to survey nearly 90,000 millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers (who fell within the 18-35 age range). The research found a high ratio of this generation to be active, interested and entrepreneurial. Nick Blunden, global managing director of The Economist, calls this subset “Gen-Narrators”. Speaking in an interview with Adweek, he describes them as “a cohort of influencers who both are sophisticated media consumers whose reach is coveted by not only media companies but also brands...They curate, they consume and they create. And that’s what makes them influencers,” Blunden explains. “They don’t just take on broad information, they DJ with it. They remix it and send it out.”
When talking about such influencers, often it’s the top tier bloggers or vloggers who find themselves central to the conversation. Just as any fashion or beauty brand would like to find themselves on the front page of Vogue or Esquire, within the Influencer Marketing space there’s often the desire to be connected with influencers such as Zoella, The Londoner, British Beauty Blogger or those of similar calibre. But this is a myth that needs to be debunked, particularly as it may be deterring some brands from embarking on an Influencer Marketing strategy.
Increasingly, brands are recognising that Influencer Marketing isn’t just for those with deep pockets. There are different kinds and scales of influencers, and it doesn’t necessarily follow that the biggest influencers will reap the best rewards for a brand. Even if they are A-list, the impact an influencer can have on one brand will be different from the next depending on how good the fit is. For some smaller brands, the best opportunities might lie with those who represent an uptapped genre of influence, such as industry experts, journalists, professors or simply new bloggers who haven’t yet reached the point of earning a living through their influence.
Anna-Marie Solowij, founder of online beauty retailer BeautyMART, says “an influencer is anyone who has the power and profile to make a difference to our opinion or that of our customers. She explains, “credibility is of ultimate importance. Someone may have a million social media followers but if they don’t know what they’re talking about or they’re irrelevant to a brand’s followers then those numbers have very little real value. We have seen big numbers in social media campaigns where the uptake in terms of sales conversion has been very low. Many influencers have teenage audiences who are not necessarily active consumers.”
Moving forward, as Influencer Marketing matures, we’re likely to see brands moving away from commercial objectives, to focus more on the quality of content being produced. This will require true collaboration between the influencer and the brand, and a two-way stream of content across social channels. While it’s understandable that the majority of marketers see product launch as a key benefit of Influencer Marketing right now, it’s not always what an audience wants to hear, or what an influencer wants to work with. As priorities evolve, it also seems likely that influencers will increasingly reach out to brands too, initiating the opportunity to work together.
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Binzento Vincente: A Fashion & Lifestyle Blog
Binzento Vincente: A Fashion & Lifestyle Blog