Who are the Influencers and How do they Operate?
Our first article in this series provided a Quick Guide for You to Start Your First Influencer Marketing Campaign. But there are a few fundamental questions you need to ask before you start any influencer marketing campaign. In particular, what makes somebody an influencer? Who are the influencers, and how do they operate?
In the previous article, we described an influencer is “somebody who has built up enough authority in a topic or niche, that people go to them. The person is respected to such a degree that he or she can easily influence the purchasing decisions of others in the field.” You can’t become an influencer overnight. It takes time to build up the necessary respect and authority.
Many have tried to take short-cuts to become an influencer, effectively cheating. It doesn’t take long, however, before these people are unmasked as charlatans. You can’t buy influence. You can only earn influence, usually through consistently creating high-quality posts over a period and active engagement with your online followers.
Whether somebody is an influencer is not solely dependent on the number of followers they have. It all depends on the social network they favor, and the nature of their niche. An online expert on Greek mythology will have significantly fewer followers than a well-known fashion model. However, our Greek mythology pro may be more passionate about his or her field and have a better reputation for subject-related expertise. There are far more fashion experts online willing and able to answer questions than there are Greek mythology authorities.
How Can Influencers Help Your Business?
The degree of help you can expect from an influencer will very much depend on the type of working relationship you build with him or her. If you try to build relationships with influencers organically you can expect far less help than you can get from influencers you pay to undertake a campaign on your behalf.
Obviously, there will be a relationship between the amount you pay and the amount of publicity an influencer gives you in return.
In the early days of influencer marketing, businesses had to do all the hard work themselves, trying to determine who the experts in their fields are. Obviously, this was easier for business people who already spent time in forums or on social media, and already know the important names in their niche.
With the development of platforms, such as SocialBook it is now much easier to find suitable influencers in your niche.
Some of the ways that influencers can help your business include:
- They create an article. blog post, visual post, or video that emphasizes your product or service.
- They promote your social accounts or blog on their social accounts. This has the effect of increasing the reach of the business accounts.
- They may let you write a guest post to go on their page/site (or a guest video to go on their video channel)
- They use your product and demonstrate this use, for example, Ryan ToysReview shows a young boy, Ryan, reviewing his favorite toys. The numerous YouTube unboxing channels, e.g. UrAvgConsumer, follow a similar principle.
Remember, Influencers are More Important than Brands to Consumers
A common mistake that many firms make is to think of themselves as the most important part of the influencer marketing equation. No. The influencer is the powerful person. People come to the influencer’s channel, site, or page, to learn from or be entertained by the influencer – not your brand. They would not care less if your brand was not there.
Therefore, don’t fall into the trap that many other firms have. Don’t think that an influencer will simply be happy with free product. influencers know their power and expect to be paid for their promotional activity.
Paid influencers have an incentive to promote your brand, so will be more proactive. They will create tailored posts/videos, designed to show your product at its best. They do this because they know that they will be paid to help your marketing campaigns succeed.
They also know their audience better than anybody. It is the influencer who knows the types of content that resound with the audience. No brand will succeed if they try to keep tight control over influencer content, because brand-sourced content will be written in a different “voice” to what the influencer’s followers expect to hear.
Of course, there may be times that influencers don’t come across as enthusiastic about your product. In that case, you either have a problem with your product, or the influencer is not a good fit for your brand. In both cases, the influencer will choose to remain loyal and authentic with his/her audience.
How Somebody Successful in Social Media Can Take the Path to Become an Influencer
We will look at the most common social networks for influencers in a future article, but you will find influencers on most social networks, YouTube, and on popular blogs. If somebody feels that they are building up a good following and regularly engages with them, then they have a good chance of becoming an influencer.
Some of the social networks have a clear-cut path for earning money – YouTube’s advertising system is one example. Others, such as Instagram, require more work by somebody to earn an income as an influencer. With networks like Instagram or Facebook, potential influencers either need to connect with brands to make themselves known or brands (using a platform such as SocialBook) contact people they believe would make potential influencer partners.
Most people begin their social media accounts as a hobby, or maybe even just a way to keep in contact with their friends and families. Over time, though, they start sharing videos, images, and stories about the topics that interest them and they feel passionate about. Others notice these posts, like them, comment on them, and share them with their friends. The success of particular posts may spur the original poster to create even more fresh and interesting posts on a similar topic.
That person, perhaps unwittingly at first, starts to become a specialist on a certain niche. More and more relevant people begin to follow or subscribe to their account. Over time, they may well become a “go-to” person for their topic of expertise.
Eventually, the potential influencer will begin to appear in influencer searches on SocialBook and the other platforms. Early collaborations are likely to be small and cheap, but it’s a starting point.
How Influencers Can Organize Themselves
As influencers grow in importance there are several ways, they can improve their chances of gaining influencer deals.
Influencers without Managers or Official Connections
Beginning influencers are unlikely to have any form of management or official connections. They won’t yet have attracted many if any, brands wishing to work with them.
Longer-term influencers may also lack management because they are too unique. They may be highly respected and knowledgeable in their field, but it’s not a topic that generates much interest. Influencer marketing is beginning to expand into these really niche subjects, however, where firms are happy to work with nano- influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers.
These influencers should very much be treated as amateurs; they have not been given the opportunities to learn to act professionally. Firms wishing to work with them, should approach them and talk to them in a similar way they do their friends.
Influencers Working with Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs) and Talent Agencies
Eventually, an influencer may reach a level of popularity where others recognize their influential status. This gives them options for organizing themselves and becoming more professional when working with brands.
The first of these were YouTube multi-channel networks (MCNs). These first emerged on YouTube to leverage the power of the most popular channels. The MSNs provide influencers with assistance in areas such as digital rights management, monetization, and funding, audience growth and development, as well as collaborations/partnerships with brands. Quite a few of YouTube’s superstars are under contract with one of the MCNs.
MCNs are sometimes called multi-platform networks (MPNs).
Studios and talent agencies grew out of the MCNs. Some of these specialize in a particular niche and happily accept anyone of influence in that niche.
Influencer Marketing Agencies
Some brands and influencers work in a different way. influencer marketing agencies are predominantly specialist agencies that can help brands carry out their influencer marketing campaigns. Many are like a hyper-specialized advertising agency. It is common for large brands wanting to collaborate with influencers for a large-scale campaign to work with an influencer marketing agency.
Although some agencies work with platforms like SocialBook to find their influencers, others build up their own roster of influencers. Potential influencers can apply to these agencies to be part of their team and be considered for relevant campaigns for the agency’s clients.
Influencers with Managers
As influencers become more experienced at working with brands, they’re likely to want to improve the levels of money they can generate. Many decide to become more dedicated and work with professional management. This is particularly the case with high-level influencers, who have become too popular to handle the deals themselves.
Top influencers are genuine celebrities. Just as off-line celebrities have their own agents and managers, online influencer celebrities do too. Once an influencer gets too many approaches for assistance, they need help, otherwise, they get bogged down in administration, rather than making content for their social sites. YouTuber Unbox Therapy, who with 14 million subscribers is definitely a mega- influencer, regularly gets more than 1,000 emails from brands asking for collaboration. Without a manager, he would have no chance of coping with them alongside making his videos.
Obviously, it costs money to hire a manager (usually a base salary, possibly topped up by commission from successful deals), but top influencers can easily afford this sum.
Many talent agencies also represent celebrity talent, so influencers may rub shoulders with noted athletes, actors, and musicians.
Here is a separate blog explaining the accuracy of our algorithm in case you are interested.
If you want to take a look at our sample Instagram influencer profile.