Influencer Marketing 101

| Aum Janakiram | - @axemanaum

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“A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising.” – Mark Zuckerberg

It’s no secret that people influence people. From the dawn of time, word of mouth has always been the best way to inform or find out if a product is as good as it says it is. Most times, people will blindly listen to a trusted source even when people are saying the product is bad. Such is the power of an Influencer. In this blog, I’ll briefly explain the concept of Influencer Marketing, how it began, its impact and the pros and cons.

Some of you may already know about the facts that follow, but rest assured that I will be covering more advanced topics in the future. For the sake of the newbies, here are the basics first.

 Definition

Influencer Marketing is a form of marketing which focuses on influential people rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies individuals who have influence over potential buyers and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

(Source: Wikipedia)

 History

The idea of a “two-step flow of communication” was first recorded in a 1940 study on the decision-making process of voters. (Source: Wikipedia)
It illustrated that most people decided based on a friend or family member’s referral. Meanwhile, in India, political party cadres wooed the voters with money, televisions, gas stoves and a quarter bottle of booze. So, in a nutshell, most were influenced or under the influence when making their decision.

Advertisers quickly jumped at the opportunity. Brands hired personalities who the audience would relate to and had them endorse their product for a lot of money. As a result, sales skyrocketed.

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Fast-forward 50 years, celebs take to social media to post regular updates which millions of followers connect with just as though they are actual friends. While 90% is genuinely about things that matter to their fans, the other 10% is usually some form of subtle advertising. And the fans just lap it up. Influencers get paid very handsomely depending on their follower base — I’m talking as high as 2 million USD per tweet. #JawDrops

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 Impact:

Now, don’t get me wrong; the people listening to the messages are not idiots. (Ok, maybe some of them are.) But, in an ideal scenario, buyers can make an informed decision based on fact and figures. They can research every brand out there, list out the pros/cons and, possibly, even test the product. But why go through all that hassle when someone you look up to and trust has already done that for you. It’s a no-brainer.

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If the product sucks, you can always tweet the influencer and tell him/her that. Why stop there, you can even raise hell on the brand’s social pages. So it goes without saying that brands and influencers alike have to be very careful not to lose trust by carefully evaluating the quality of the products. Else, it could lead to mass un-following. Which brings me to the advantages of influencer marketing.

 Pros and Cons

By now you must be thinking in one of two ways:

From the standpoint of a pure consumer:

via GIPHY

Or, from a marketer’s position:

via GIPHY

If you are like me, you will probably take the marketer’s standpoint. The truth is that it is a double-edged sword and there are no real certainties. That being said, the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages.

 Two sides of the coin

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As you can see, Influencer Marketing should be used as a tactical strategy along with consistently putting out engaging content.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article. In the following articles about Influencer Marketing, I will cover the different types of influencer strategies as well as ways to become an Influencer or engage an Influencer. So stay subscribed to Influx’s social channels — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. If you want to get the whole low down before that, contact us and we’ll show you how to do it like pro.

Until the next time, this is Aum Janakiram, signing off…

Aum Janakiram is Head of Social Strategy at Influx. With over 16 years experience in creating digital solutions and marketing products and services, he has successfully launched over 150 engaging campaigns using social media channels to reach the right audiences for brands including some prominent ones. While marketing is second nature to him, Aum is also a talented musician in love with rock ‘n’ roll and the blues.

 
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