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Influencer Marketing: What Is It and Does it Work?


Weslie Oeftering
Influencer Marketing: What Is It and Does it...

If you’re a human living on Planet Earth, you probably have noticed the rise of influencer marketing. It’s a relatively simple idea that has generated lots of traction in the content marketing world in a relatively short amount of time. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so it will help you to know what it is, and why it works.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Essentially, influencer marketing is a celebrity endorsement on the digital level. That is, instead of seeing them in stores on a box of cereal, you’ll see them posing with, talking about, using, or wearing a product on social media (Instagram and YouTube are the examples I’ll be using for this post, but influencers appear on all social media sites under the sun). Beyond the fact that you’ll primarily find influencers online, there are a few more key differences.

Celebrities vs. Influencers

First of all, celebrities are people that almost everyone knows about. Think Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Hugh Jackman, Robert Downey Jr., etc. Celebrities usually partner with B2C products like shampoo, skincare, athletic wear, perfume and sometimes even alcohol because those products appeal to a wider audience – just like the celebrity does.

Unlike celebrities, influencers usually have micro-audiences. Therefore, an influencer is anyone that has a large (but not massive) following who orients all their content around that micro-audience. For instance, travel bloggers wouldn’t post content about their trip to the hair salon, and a make-up guru wouldn’t post content about their hike in Yosemite. Contrastingly, celebrities usually just post about their day-to-day with the occasional branded post.

Additionally, whereas celebrities are usually in the entertainment business, the same is not necessarily true for influencers. Former contestants on “The Bachelor,” professional trainers, and even dogs, can all be influencers. With enough knowledge and time, anyone can be an influencer.

For example, Lewis Hilsenteger is a YouTube creator that unboxes and reviews different tech gadgets. He has over 8 million subscribers, an estimated net worth of over $2 million, and has done reviews for companies like Microsoft, Intel, and Canon – but most people have never heard of him because Lewis is a micro-influencer. That is, you only know about him if you operate in the B2B space that he operates in. Otherwise, why would you care? Personally, I have no interest in watching Lewis’s unboxing videos but many in the tech industry do.

There are micro-influencers like Lewis in every single B2B industry that cater to these niche audiences; Healthcare, real estate, finance, education – you name it, there are micro-influencers out there.

Why Does Influencer Marketing Work?

The reason that Lewis is able to earn money from some of the world’s largest tech companies simply by talking about their products is that those companies know how effective influencer marketing can be. Paying Lewis to review a product means that they reach their target market much more directly than they ever could with a TV or print ad.

Partnering with an influencer also provides a company with more credibility. Unlike traditional celebrities, influencers often use their platforms to build relationships with their followers. As a result, followers often feel like they can trust their favorite influencers because its almost as if they know them in real life. A follower thinks, “If Joanna Gaines uses this brand of paint for her interior designs, then it must be good…Maybe I’ll use it whenever we finally remodel the kitchen.”

If you understand your target market, then you are on your way to finding an influencer who fits that audience. As long as you make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to your brand’s image, a partnership with an influencer can help you build credibility and increase sales.

Hiring a PR firm is an excellent way to ensure this, especially if you’re in the B2B space where the rules are sometimes not as well-defined as they could be.

About Weslie Oeftering: Weslie is a communications student at The University of Texas at Austin and Swyft’s resident PR and marketing intern. She supports clients with social media, blogging, and tech PR activities. Swyft is a digital marketing agency in Austin with offices in Denver, Houston and Antwerp that provides digital marketing services and trade show lead gen support for tech companies around the world. Some of their services include media relations, content and inbound marketing, CPC campaigns, and marketing automation consulting.

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