The marketing landscape has changed drastically in the past few years. While traditional approaches like TV spots and magazine ads are generating less and less traction, digital-based advertising has turned into a booming business. These digital advertising methods include social media posts, pop-up advertisements and advertisements the play ahead of a video on Youtube or some other channel. However, one of the more recent marketing trends -- and one that has exploded in only a short time -- is that of the online influencer.
What Is an Online Influencer?
An online influencer is just that -- someone who uses their online presence to influence their followers to buy a certain brand or shop at a certain store. These influencers are typically famous people such as celebrities and popular bloggers, and due to this fame they have garnered a huge following on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
Using this online fame, these personalities “influence” their followers by promoting certain goods and services. Sometimes these promotions happen organically, like when the influencer just uses a product, likes it and decides to talk about it. However, more and more these promotions are coming in the form of a paid influence, where the influencer is basically a paid spokesperson who is advertising this product while receiving some form of compensation.
Either way, it can be a very effective way to push a product. Some of the biggest influencers on social media are responsible for millions of dollars in sales, and companies everywhere are waking up to the fact that this is a useful way to promote a brand and product to a younger, more digital-savvy crowd.
Why Pay an Influencer?
Even though we call them by different names, an influencer is really nothing more than an updated form of celebrity endorsement -- an advertising strategy with a long history of success. Many brands have benefited over the years from finding and forming a partnership with just the right spokesperson. Michael Jordan and Nike (and Hanes, too!). Peyton Manning and Nationwide. Alex Trebek and Colonial Penn.
Of course, a social media influencer isn’t exactly the same. They aren’t reading from a script or being featured in magazines ads. Still, the public places a lot of stock in what their favorite celebrities have to say, which means that these influencers are becoming a major player in future marketing strategies.
How Do Influencers Work?
The effectiveness of a social media influencer varies depending on a number of factors, but in general, there are many things an online influencer can do, depending on the platform being used.
When we think of online advertising, we probably don’t think of blogs right away. The truth is, there are a LOT of blogs out there (it’s estimated that the total number of blogs is somewhere between 450 and 600 million!), and with that many blogs very few of them every gain any sort of actual traction. Most are nothing more than personal musings -- fine in their own right, but not the sort of thing you want to throw advertising dollars at.
However, many blogs do rise above the masses, so to speak, and start to stand out in terms of both quality and popularity. In fact, there are some blogs (and bloggers) that have gained world-wide fame, including such well-known names as The Huffington Post, Mashable and Gizmodo. Of course, those sites might have started off as humble blogs, but they’ve grown well beyond their initial scope.
When it comes to more down-to-earth blog success, you typically find that the ones that get the most views tend to occupy a niche. They don’t just give general information and opinions; they are focused on one specific topic, like food, travel or fashion. These are the sorts of blogs where you can typically find the most effective influencers.
Why? Because they are seen as someone with authority. Someone who spends their day writing about food is often asked to endorse restaurants or kitchen gadgets, and their knowledge with the food industry gives them an authority that their readers respond to.
Of course, you have to worry about over-saturation; with thousands, if not millions, of niche blogs it’s easy to find that a market has become too full to support its audience (as with the over-saturated fashion blogger audience). But still, finding the right blog can definitely help put your brand name on the map
Social Media and Instagram
When it comes to social media these days, there are many platforms. However, only a handful of platforms are really seen as global players, and without a doubt the one that is most associated with social media influencers is Instagram.
Instagram influencers are a huge part of the platform’s draw. Celebrities (including those who are famous only on Instagram) post pictures that draw thousands and thousands of views, and these pictures often change how a following feels about a brand. For this reason, social media influencing is a huge business. It doesn’t take much more than a shout-out from one of the many Kardashiasn, Selena Gomez or Cristiano Ronaldo to bring a huge boost in sales for a long time to come.
Not quite a social media platform, but every bit as influential, YouTube exploded on the scene in 2005 and quickly changed everything. Over the years it has adopted an advertising model that allows brands to run what seems like more-or-less traditional advertising spots. However, many of the most popular YouTubers have turned into influencers themselves, using their YouTube channels and their hundreds of videos to sell products all over the globe.
One of the biggest draws of YouTube is the sheet number of people who are constantly watching videos, hopping from one video and channel to the next, in a constant search for content. Typically younger, these teenage YouTube subscribers watch at least 40 minutes of YouTube during a session, and those minutes are often full of people directly or indirectly advertising some sort of product.
This means big money to YouTubers, who get paid to sell, and the brands that choose the right influencers to do business with.
All in all, it’s clear that online influencers are the face of the next generation of digital advertisement. While standard marketing avenues will never completely go out of style, a changing digital landscape demands new and innovative solutions. These influencers are available for any brand willing to take the risk, ensuring that their names will be able to reach the next generation of consumers. At PTPA Media, we specialize in helping brands do exactly that. Why not contact us today?