For many it is the job of the future: some have been doing it for some time, others dream of becoming one. But who are they and what exactly do they do? The answer in this article: influencers, meaning of the term and types, as well as various ways they can earn money.
It is probably one of the most uttered words nowadays, even by those who do not really know what it means-or have a not entirely clear idea of it.
Actually, the work of influencers is nothing new; on the contrary: it is something that has always existed.
Try to think: If you are old enough to remember what the world was like before the arrival of the Internet, you may realize how the opinions of famous and considered more knowledgeable people have always been one of the best weapons in advertising and sales.
True or not?
Since time immemorial, so-called celebrities have always been asked to promote particular products or recommend their favorite brands: from radio to newspapers to television, it was easy to find well-known faces in advertising campaigns.
So what has changed?
Two words: social media.
Yes, because the emergence and growth of social platforms has allowed certain people to exert their influence like never before. Indeed, the connection and empathy they create with other users is something unique and innovative: the distance to the public has been reduced, giving them the opportunity to enter their own daily lives.
The result? A multibillion-dollar industry.
Yeah, because if thinking about influencers the first thing that comes to your mind is "but that's not a real job - those guys don't do anything and spend their day taking selfies," know that this is not really the case.
It's kind of the same mistake of believing that social doesn't play a crucial role in business...
Influencers are and will continue to be the future of advertising: nowadays they belong to the marketing mix of many large companies, representing a super effective way to increase the brand awareness (and sales) in a more direct, authentic and sincere way.
In fact, so many companies collaborate with them to promote products and services, choosing those who reflect the identity and positioning of one's brand and has a trusting relationship with its followers (who are obviously very numerous).
As a result, the days when being on social media was a mere pastime are well and truly over (or perhaps they never began?): among the Instagram stories, the posts of Facebook o i YouTube video it is almost impossible not to come across product sponsorship by those who have a following of a certain kind.
But what does "influencer" really mean? What does it do, how does it work, and how does it make money?
Continue reading the article-you will find all the answers.
Who is an influencer and what they do
An influencer is a person who shares part of his or her life through online channels, with one key characteristic: they have the power to influence purchasing decisions of those who follow him because of his fame and notoriety, his knowledge and expertise, as well as a very solid relationship with a large number of followers.
The term itself comes from the English word "influence," which means "to have the power to influence the way someone thinks."
Here, then, an influencer uses this ability to promote brands and brands of companies he or she identifies with; he or she usually does this where his or her community hangs out: social networks, websites or blog, video or other digital channels.
It has an image authoritative, he is considered an expert in something and has built a reputation in his target niche-sometimes even just by sharing his daily life.
Perhaps you might think that it is enough to spend all your time on social media, taking selfies and trying to look important, to assume this role.
In fact, what makes the difference from someone who does this work seriously is also the ability to create content of value. In fact, an influencer regularly posts on various digital platforms, creating trends and encouraging followers to purchase the products or services they promote.
Some of its activities generally include:
- Make images and videos to post on social media, regularly posting thematic or useful content;
- Research brands and their products to create promotional content;
- Write captions for the content they post to connect with the community;
- Interact with their followers, responding to comments and messages;
- Engage in collaborations or partnerships with other influencers or companies;
- Conducting promotional activities.
Once again, it is authenticity that makes the difference-along with choosing brands in line with one's identity and values.
It is definitely a marketing "tool" (pass me that term) for companies, but also and especially a social relationship resource with which brands can collaborate to achieve their growth goals.
Simply put, influencers shape public opinion and dictate trends. This is why influencer marketing, a separate type of marketing focused on working with this category of digital users, has appeared.
As I mentioned, perhaps in your mind the quintessential influencer is the young, famous girl who posts endless photos and videos about how she dresses or how she does her makeup.
In fact, there are many different kinds of influencers: from a wide variety of celebrities (artists, athletes, and pop culture stars), to industry experts and thought leaders, from micro-influencers to bloggers.
You can distinguish them based on several criteria, including the number of followers, the type of content or the level of influence they exert.
Let us therefore see the main types.
Types of influencers by number of followers
These are people with at least 1 million followers on a social platform. They are usually celebrities who have earned their fame offline: movie stars, sportsmen, musicians, and even reality TV stars. They often have agents who guide them to make marketing deals with brands.
They are a step down from the mega-influencers, with followers between 400,000 and 1 million. They are famous artists (not as famous as the former) or successful online experts. They generally have a high profile and can be excellent at raising brand awareness.
Micro-influencers are ordinary ordinary people who have become famous for their knowledge within a specific niche. As such, they have usually gained a considerable social media following among devotees of that industry and have between 1,000 and 40,000 followers.
This is the "newer" type, if we can call it that. These are people who have a much smaller number of followers but tend to be experts in a highly specialized field. You can think of nano-influencers as the proverbial big fish in a small pond. In many cases, they have fewer than 1,000 followers, but those followers are often enthusiastic and interested, willing to interact with them and listen to their opinions.
Types of influencers by content type
Bloggers often have very authentic and active relationships with their fans, over whom they exert no small amount of conditioning-not surprisingly, brands are increasingly recognizing and leveraging blogging among their strategies. So here they are, in one of their articles they may include mention of a product or write an entire post about the latest service they used.
It is quite common for content creators of popular videos to place sponsored products on their channel, perhaps by creating an idea specifically or by doing a review.
The podcasting is a relatively recent form of online content that is growing in popularity: again, the author can write an episode based on a specific idea and link it to the advertised brand, or place an advertisement at the beginning of his or her audio.
# Social networker
Of course, bloggers, podcasters and YouTubers in turn leverage social to connect with their community; however, there are also influencers who rely solely on Instagram or TikTok to do their work.
Types of influencers by level of influence
It all started with them: world-class athletes, international movie stars, and you name it. Of course, they are not cheap, but the reach of their word of mouth is vast.
# Thought leader
Thought leaders earn respect because of their qualifications, position, or expertise on their topic of expertise. They may be journalists, academics, professional consultants, as well as physicians or health care figures of various kinds.
Ps. About thought leaders I have discussed this in more detail. in my article here.
# Opinion leader
These are in this case more "ordinary" people, but with above-average influence on their audiences. They are similar to thought leaders, but have usually gained their reputation more informally through their online activity and the quality of the content they create.
How influencers make money
Here's another question you may have asked yourself more than once: but how is it that influencers make money?
Again, it is a job like any other, with very serious contracts and agreements.
Companies invest resources in promoting themselves through the image of others, and they do so only in exchange for real return.
That said, let's look at the main ways influencers make money.
Sponsored Posts: Sponsored posts are one of the most popular ways for influencers to make money. Simply post a photo or video on your profile linking it to a selected product or service.
Brand ambassador partnership: A partnership as brand ambassador is an agreement between an influencer and a company, whose products or services the influencer agrees to promote, often exclusively, in exchange for compensation (in the form of money, free products, or other benefits).
Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is a type of word-of-mouth promotion: a company rewards affiliates with commissions for each customer brought in by its marketing efforts. If you want to learn more about it, I recommend you read my article about it: you can find it here.
Merchandising: influencers can also sell via commerce branded and customized products, which can be physical goods, services, or digital products.
Traffic on other channels: Finally, a final but equally valuable way to earn money with social is to use your visibility on the platform to drive your audience to external channels (blog, website, podcast, newsletter, videos) that will be later monetized.
Influencer work is based on credibility and transparency: it is not enough to be cool on social media in order to exploit one's position and do business.
It is a role for which the quality of the relationship with one's followers (and yes, even the ability to deal with the notorious haters) is crucial: only if people trust you blindly will they then be enticed to follow your advice on purchases.
What do you think about that?
Are there particular influencers you follow whose opinion is relevant to you when it comes to researching or choosing a brand?
Let me know in the comments!