Marketing always has a trending buzzword. Couple of years ago, it was Content Marketing. Before that, it was Social Marketing. Regardless, as soon as the buzz grows, so does the number of brands investing in it.

So what is the buzz word today – Influencer Marketing? And what is it – a non-promotional approach to marketing in which brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders, as opposed to direct target market touch points like mainline Advertising.

As defined by Wikipedia – Influencer marketing, (also Influence Marketing) is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers , and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

Influencer content may be framed as testimonial advertising where they play the role of a potential buyer themselves, or they may be third parties. These third parties exist either in the supply chain (retailers, manufacturers, etc.) or may be so-called value-added influencers (such as journalists, academics, industry analysts, professional advisers, and so on)

Influencer marketing involves marketing products and services to those who have a sway over the things other people buy. This market influence typically stems from an individual’s expertise, popularity, or reputation. Marketing to an audience of influencers is similar to word of mouth marketing

Basically, influencer marketing is about providing product context and expertise through an inspirational person.

Any person, group, brand, or place could potentially be an influencer. For example, celebrities are often used to market products because they are highly respected and highly visible. When a celebrity uses a product, the maker of that product gets exposure and the respect that comes from a celebrity endorsement

Bloggers have become important influencers because they are seen as authentic and have loyal followings. When a blogger recommends a product it seems more trustworthy than traditional advertising. By using influencers, companies can avoid much of the cynicism and skepticism that is directed at straight forward marketing messages.

This form of marketing is unique because it appeals to the needs of the influencer rather than the customer. Companies must give influencers respect and form open and organic relationships for the influencer to endorse a product. This might include giving the influencer access to a soon-to-be released product, or inviting the influencer to visit the company in person.

Who Should Employ Influencer Marketing?

Small businesses might use inexpensive online strategies to connect with influencers. A new restaurant can encourage patrons to write reviews online. A landscaping company could set up a helpful gardening blog. Influence is just as powerful at the local level as it is on the national level.Larger companies develop comprehensive influencer marketing strategies that stretch across platforms. They could form expensive partnerships with celebrities or other brands to help position their products. Consider an energy drink company that wants to market to a younger audience. They could sponsor a snowboarder and hand out free drinks at competitions. This is a way of appealing to a young audience that has influence over their friends and classmates. For larger companies, influencer marketing should be an exhaustive and ongoing effort as they maintain existing influencer relationships.

More on Influencer Marketing in my next post.


Author: Ganesh Iyer