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More than just an #Ad: Influencer Marketing Explained

We all had role models growing up. Whether they were actors, musicians, athletes, or even our own parents, it is impossible to go through life without having someone to look up to and emulate. As we grow older, that tendency stays with us, and marketers can use this to their advantage by implementing influencer marketing into their digital strategies.

An influencer is anyone with a significant following and authority on a social media platform. Unlike celebrity spokespeople, these influencers do not have to become famous through traditional means. The landscape of influencers has changed drastically over the past ten years, largely due to social media growth. While traditional celebrities still hold power, the rise of social media allows more people the possibility to create a platform to reach millions.

One of the greatest examples of this can be found on Instagram. Here, Instagram models can be found promoting anything from whitening toothpaste to streetwear. Although the majority of people would not recognize these models in person, their fans adore them and the aesthetic of their feeds. Unfortunately, one fault in Instagram influencing is the potential to come across as inauthentic. In an extreme example, reality star Scott Disick accidentally posted the instructions for his paid post for Bootea Protein Shake in the caption of said post last year. While Disick was not held in particularly high regard to begin with, this further ruined his reputation as well as that of the brand. Meanwhile, the other end of the spectrum has its own problems. If influencers forget to place “#ad” in their caption, consumers will not know it is sponsored and could feel deceived. However, when sponsored Instagram posts are between these two extremes, they help promote both the brand and the lifestyle that the influencer wants to portray in a genuine manner.

At the moment, though, YouTubers are the most engaging marketing influencers. From Tyler Oakley to Michelle Phan to Casey Neistat, YouTube influencers have a lot of clout in areas such as entertainment, beauty and gaming. Hiring YouTube influencers is particularly effective because it combines influencer marketing with video marketing. Since both trends are currently on the rise, this allows for marketers to be twice as influential. Combining these two techniques also emphasizes the humanity of the influencer, helping them avoid the inauthenticity of some sponsored Instagram posts.

What Instagram and YouTube influencers prove is that the humanity of influencer marketing is the most engaging aspect of the practice to consumers. When it comes to digital marketing, consumers distrust impersonal ads and celebrity sponsors, and view influencers as more authentic and trustworthy. And companies have noticed — 73% of marketers have a budget specifically for influencer marketing, and 84% of marketers plan to implement influencer marketing in the next twelve months.

Move over, traditional celebrities: the new generation of role models is here to stay.

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