In the world of beauty bloggers, lifestyle accounts, and viral videos, a new celebrity has been born in the 21st century: The Influencer.
Kim Kardashian West, Huda Kattan, PewDiePie, Christiano Rinaldo, and thousands of other Social Media Influencers have shaped the future of marketing. What was once “the next big thing” is here to stay, proving its relevance and effectiveness in engaging a loyal audience.
But what is Influencer Marketing?
Simply put, it’s a hybrid between old and new marketing styles. Taking the age-old idea of a celebrity endorsement and combining it with the power of Social Media. But instead of using a famous actress or singer, online influencers are used.
Influencer Marketing is a common practice for internationally known brands. In fact, the rise of Influencer Marketing has enabled influencers to become celebrities in the traditional sense, gaining endorsement deals. Pepsi, partnering with Kendall Jenner, Sprint collaborating with influencers—like Lele Pons and Gerard Adams—and Stride Gum teaming up with The King of Snapchat, DJ Khaled, for a takeover campaign on the platform. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and almost every other social media platform are being utilized by brands to engage audiences and gain loyal customers.
So, how do we define who an Influencer is?
Well, there’s no clear-cut definition. The Urban Outfitters Halloween Costume, though a parody of the trend, was a clever and insightful play on what it takes to be an Influencer. Influencers encompass all facets of the social spectrum. Whether it’s beauty guru Huda Kattan or YouTube sensation PewDiePie, influencers can be anyone, anywhere, at any time. There is one common denominator these people all share: followers. The rise of Social Media has enabled anyone with a smartphone to become an Influencer capable of reaching millions.
And the followers are exactly who advertisers want.
The adage of “famous for being famous” is something reality celebs have taken to the bank… a few MILLION times. Influencers are the reality TV stars of the Internet Age. This attitude may seemingly fit, but these “celebs” have accrued a faithful following. Not only gaining popularity but more importantly, trust. Influencers put time, energy, and thought into every post, tweet, and snapchat. So, when they decide to endorse a product, it must be one they would actually use and feel would resonate with their following.
Influencer marketing is far more complex than a celebrity endorsement deal.
It’s not just attaching a famous name to a well-known brand. It’s cultivating a relationship and analyzing a very niche audience. This affords more quality leads and can even get the brand a more faithful following.
Perhaps the best—and most infamous—example of Influencer Marketing is the tragic Fyre Festival. What was marketed as a Luxury Music Festival quickly unraveled into one of the biggest event coordination blunders. Soaked tents, dirty mattresses, no water, and bread with salad dressing is the legacy of this once highly anticipated festival. But how did it get here? Well, through the help of Influencers like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Hailey Baldwin, Fyre Festival quickly became the most anticipated event of 2017. All it took was one photo posted to each model’s account. The post linked to a promotional video promising “…an immersive music festival…two transformative weekends…on the boundaries of the impossible.” The weekend was anything but. A genius Influencer Marketing campaign, but arguably one of the most poorly executed events in recent history.
Social Media Influencers have millions of people at their fingertips, and this new power has people asking the question: when a picture is worth a thousand words, why write more than a caption?