What Is Influence Marketing?
Influencer marketing might be rapidly gaining popularity with the growth of social media but, this form of marketing isn’t something new.
Influence Marketing is the process of building connections with influential individuals or groups, who can better promote your product or service to potential buyers, to amplify your marketing efforts. By building relationships with personalities who have a greater influence on your target audience, you can effectively enhance your credibility, gain insider knowledge and successfully increase your brand’s awareness. “Influence marketing depends on your business having something great to offer your potential customers, and the audience of the influencer, and it also depends on your building a great relationship with the influencer as well.” (1)
How Did Influence Marketing Start and How Has It Evolved?
By the end of the 19th century, marketing efforts had evolved from face-to-face marketers and newspaper advertisements to promotional posters plastered with memorable slogans and fictional influencers; giving consumers a trustworthy figure to relate to. These imagined personalities were a symbol of the brand’s message and key values.
As the success of influence marketing kept growing, businesses wanted to come up with a simpler, much faster way of developing an influencer who could encourage the public to trust the quality of their product and ultimately, favour their brand. So, instead of creating fictional influencers to embody their brand, companies began hiring prominent celebrities who had inﬂuence over their target audience. In the early 1900s, this position was largely dominated by sports stars promoting tobacco brands.
For the rest of the 20th century, a large number of individuals who managed to make a name for themselves used it to promote a product. Advertisements featured a range of celebrities: sports stars, popular entertainers, political leaders and otherwise ‘national treasures’. More specifically there were figures like ‘Marlboro Man’ in the 1950’s and Santa Claus who promoted Coca-Cola. The truth is, people look to celebrities who have such “amazing” and “glamorous” lives and want what they have. By purchasing their endorsed products and services, consumers may feel just that bit closer to that celebrity lifestyle that they believe is so unachievable.
2000s To Present
As years have gone on, celebrity endorsements have become less and less popular as a new type of influencer emerged with the rise of the digital age. Currently, brands are choosing to hire popular internet personalities who are just regular people and can better relate to consumers; opposed to celebrities who live completely different lives.
As In the late 2000s and early 2010s, social networking evolved and everyday individuals like you and me finally had the ability to share content online and have a voice that can actually impact others. Unlike before when only celebrities had the reach to impact such an audience, now, an average individual can become a major influencer and voice their opinion to the world. Consumers don’t have to aim for that glamorous celebrity lifestyle anymore or look to such stars for which products to buy. “This is thanks to a new era of influencers, whose opinions consumers trust and lifestyles they feel are achievable because of their accessibility and, above all, relatability.” (2)
So, What’s the General Consensus? Does Influence Marketing Work?
Now that we understand how influence marketing began and evolved, its time to see if marketing experts actually believe this form of marketing works. The answer? Influence marketing can successfully amplify your marketing efforts if you pick the right influencer for your brand.
Influence marketing all depends on your business building a relationship with individuals who can influence your target audience to buy your product. If you build a relationship with an influencer who has the wrong target audience, influence marketing as a strategy probably isn’t going to work. By hiring an influencer who has a following of supporters who aren’t your target audience, your product won’t sell as successfully as the viewers won’t feel that the product is suited to them; which it won’t be.
My Thoughts on Influence Marketing
As someone from generation Z, I believe that Influence marketing towards my age group will be exceedingly more successful than any other. Generation Z grew up in the digital age and we never knew a time when there wasn’t technology that could tell us anything at the touch of a button. As a generation, we are constantly on social media, communicating and engaging with people who we find influential and trust the opinion of. This is a fantastic opportunity for brand’s marketing towards our generation. In my opinion, something that is promoted by someone I follow, and support would sway me towards buying the product. But, unlike celebrity endorsements of the past, I wouldn’t buy the product because I want to have that ‘glamorous lifestyle’, I would purchase the product because I trust said individual to produce an authentic view on the product; because they are an average person like me.
In the future, I believe more authentic influencers will rise as consumers, from generation Z, turn their attention to making connections and communicating; rather than being sold to. Influencers will be authentic individuals who can connect with consumers and make trustworthy reliable opinions; not ones they are just being paid to say. “Influencer marketing will be less about celebrities and more about real people who consumers can relate to.” (3)
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Junior Marketing Assistant