What Is Influencer Marketing? How Does It Work?

Influence is a common concept. As children, we have known it in the form of this classic rhetorical question, “If all of your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?” which implies the social influence of our circle. Cut to 2020, now we see it in the form of, “I have recently got my hands on this product and you should definitely check it out. Use my code for a discount” which implies influencer marketing.  

What is influencer marketing? 

Influencer Marketing is a part of social media marketing wherein brands partner with online influencers, professionals, or otherwise known as public figures to promote their product or service to their audience. Before social media, we had word of mouth for the promotion of business and now we have its hybrid version called influencer marketing. However, word of mouth still exists and they both work hand-in-hand.

We are familiar with TV advertisements, brand endorsements, and brand ambassadors. Influencer marketing takes it up a notch by giving a bigger reach, wider opportunities, and a progressive approach. It offers an upside of connecting straight to your target audience, unlike traditional marketing methods where the ads were exposed to all and the chances of reaching it to the right audience were fairly dicey. By reaching out to these influencers, you are reaching out to your target audience which makes the communication direct and clear. That’s a huge time and money saver. But wait.

Who are these influencers?

You would think if someone is famous with a pretty feed on Instagram then they are influencers. They aren’t but that could be a start of it. A social media influencer is someone who has the power to influence the purchasing decisions of their followers. Just merely marketing the product through an individual on social media with large followers will not make a good influencer. There has to be a relationship between influencers and their followers that is built over a period of time. It is necessary to gain trust and hence to drive the purchasing behavior of the followers. 

What are the types of influencers?

“Types! What do you mean by types? There are more than one?” Well yes, there are. And after you finish with this segment you will realize that you too have been following more than one type of influencer. 

By follower numbers, there are 3 types of influencers– mega, macro, and micro.

Mega-Influencers: These people are the ones with more than 500k of followership. Earlier, only actors, singers, and people from the same fraternity had that amount of followers. But now since the digital scene is booming, rags to riches have really happened for a lot of these influencers. 

Macro-Influencers: These people have approximately more than 150k followers who have a lesser reach than mega-influencers but an equal amount of influence. There are more macro-influencers than mega influencers. 

Micro-Influencers: These influencers can have a following of somewhere between 1k to 100k. They generally charge less than the other influencers. Although for brands this may be economically efficient, to target a large audience with micro-influencers, they will have to partner with a lot of them. 

Apart from this classification, the influencers are also categorized on the basis of their platforms. There are bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, and social media. Despite their choice of platforms, what we can generally see is that they all have social media platforms and they constantly use it for cross-promotions if not just for direct promotions.  

Another category of influencers is celebrities, journalists, advisors, and experts who have taken on the social media world too. And need we get into the bifurcation of styles, streams, and professions that these influencers have? Probably not, because the list is ceaseless. 

But how does influencer marketing work?

Do brands just spot an individual with a good amount of followers and promote their product? That’s it! But a little more complex and well thought out. “Customer is king” and we all agree with it. Everything they say matters, to the brand, about the brand, about the product, everything. And now with the comment section being the new review section, brands are even more careful and polished than before. So it’s necessary to keep it good with everyone. But as a venture, it is not always feasible to do so. And that’s where influencer marketing comes into the picture. 

Influencer niche

Niche is very important in marketing and all brands, as well as the influencers, have their own niche. As mentioned before, a large following is not all that an influencer needs. It’s the process that happens from being a social media user to a social media influencer. It takes time, effort, communication, and trust. They all have their own community built over time where their followers believe them because they have been their digital family for a long time now. As a brand, this is what is essential to market the product. Brands are looking to spread awareness and drive sales by targeting a bunch of audiences. Since the influencers have already built their niche and community, as a brand all they need is to pick the ones that align with their goals and ideology. 

For instance, a vegan brand wants to launch its new collection and it wants the audience to believe in its authenticity and values. They can start from scratch and build a community by themselves but why not just collaborate with an influencer who already follows the same ideology and has an influence over a large number of people who follow them? Content is what builds these communities and these influencers have poured in their heart over the years in it. People follow them for their content and the information they provide. May it be the shade of lipstick they recommend or something as unforeseen as Binod, influence does spread like a wildfire.

It’s because of the digital world that people know about the brands and their products way before they discover their website. When customers land on a website for purchase, they already know all about the product. Their favorite influencers have already used and reviewed the product and they already like your product. This phenomenon widely shapes their purchasing decisions. Hence, influencer marketing is the right way to promote a product and also to step up the social media game. 

How to get into influencer marketing?

As mentioned earlier, it is a little more complex and well thought out. Here comes that part. Influencer marketing is an entire journey that takes place beginning from research to strategy to execution to analysis. Numbers play a huge role in marketing. Right from the number of followers to the amount of profit, a brand has to consider all of it. 

  1. Goals: First, the goals are set which will make the influencer marketing work and do wonders. Goals can differ like raising awareness, funds, sales, launch, etc. These goals can be long-term, short-term, or seasonal. 
Influencer marketing research
  1. Research: Market research will give you an idea about the current scenarios which will also include looking at the potential influencers. Your criteria for selecting an influencer can be based on anything but a point to note is that they should cater to your domain and target audience. You can save your time by hiring an influencer marketing agency to do this for you.
  1. Strategy: Keeping your influencers in mind you have to build your strategy and campaign to promote your product. This will be your plan of action that will define your goal, communication, visuals, and content. 
  1. Execution: And here comes your final hour when you have to ensure that everything is done smoothly. Your content, your visuals, your timing everything has to be in sync. 
  1.  Analytics: Result time! Once your strategy is successfully executed, its time to see how it has done for you. Your metrics can vary like reach, engagement, sales depending on your set goals. 

Influencer Marketing tells us that technology rules! Data is important. Numbers are important. And it is the key to spike them up. Brands can consider using a reputed influencer marketing platform to save time and simplify the process of Ever since its introduction, the journey of marketing has always been uphill. When the pandemic hit the world, businesses were worried and they still are. But they are all somewhere dependent on the digital platforms and these influencers because we have understood now that although we have come so far, there’s still a lot more of its potential left to unfold. 

What’s the Psychology Behind the Influencing Industry?

A successful marketing strategy lies in cracking the human behaviour code. Marketing has always been a psychological process of understanding human perceptions, conducts, and practices. One of the spellbinding aspects of human behaviour is that it constantly changes with new-fashioned divulgences. While keeping up with these constant changes is the backbone of marketing, it has wheeled in a new line of thinking in the form of influencer marketing, where human behaviour practically drives its success. 

New-age audiences are more online than offline, like never before. Tapping into their online influence has been the greatest boon for influencer marketing. If you think about it, influencer marketing has always been a part of the digital market, but in the past few years, it has grown to become much more powerful because of people’s changing behaviour. An integral part of human psychology is that we always seek connections and similarities in the world we live in. It’s reflected in our online interactions and the way we consume information. Our cognitive biases make decisions for us every single second of the day and influencer marketing has made use of this. 

Our influence is, in a way, based on our cognitive biases. When we share the influence, we make connections around us. It’s common for people to aspire and like the influence they come across, which is how leading influencers in the digital ecosystem manages to garner a lot of response and engagements through their content.

The psychology of influence has paved the way for influencer marketing to become one of the greatest marketing tools the digital world has ever witnessed. If you’re interested to know more, here’s how influencer marketing works wonders, psychologically.

The More You Desire, The More Influenced You Are

We all follow prominent names in the influencer industry because we aspire to become like them. It’s as simple as wanting to become an actress because of Aishwarya Rai’s evergreen fandom and celebrity status. When we follow influencers, we gradually tend to look up to them as trusted sources or experts in their field. The decisions they make impact the decisions their followers will make.

person showing brown gift box

In general, people do tend to follow influencers way of living because of the authenticity they promise. Brands have understood the power of their influence. By making influencers their brand ambassadors, brands have found a single-shot way of talking directly to their customers – through influencer marketing. 

Halo Effect

Our impression about influencers directly (or indirectly) affects our perception about them. For instance, when we’re constantly consuming the content and the lives of a particular influencer, we subconsciously end up perceiving their behaviour as trustworthy. Very often, influencers change into role models. The followers of influencers legitimately change their behaviours and choices according to the influencer so as be part of their club. 

woman using brown phone

Marketers bank on this outpouring of positive emotions and behavioural patterns from audiences to spread their brand message. It’s a great tool to create brand awareness and earn their loyalty.

Closer The Better

A decade ago, we all looked up to celebrities for all kinds of inspiration. However, there was one thing that lacked – a proximal emotional connect. While celebrities have earned a great follower base, people are of the belief that they feel more connected with influencers because of the social distance.

man sitting on wheelchair taking selfie with woman and two men

Put differently, they don’t look up to influencers the way they look up to celebrities. Influencers ooze a very ‘people next door’ vibe. They make their followers feel comfortable and welcome by opening up their lives to them. Followers, therefore, are more engaging and want to know more of their influencer’s private lives.

Influencers have mastered the art of personalising and that caught on to become the cornerstone of influencer marketing. 

Social Proof

The difference between traditional marketing and new-age marketing is social proof. Traditional forms of advertising never really revealed an end-to-end utilization of their products or services. New-age marketing, on the other hand, has connected the dots of influence by employing people to promote products and services through product placements and usage videos. When influential voices promote brands, they’re contingently pledging for them. Their followers watch them utilize branded products and services, which they eventually try out. To see them in action makes them more believable. The social proof promised by influencers helps brands grow their business online and gain new audiences. 

woman in white long sleeve shirt holding magnifying glass

In people’s minds, influencers are connoisseurs in their field, highly knowledgeable of the content they share. This itself is a determining factor that affects consumer choices. Brands capitalize on their social influence and expertise to sell their story.

The business of influence is more about creating effortless connections and prioritizing people’s needs over anything else. Building relationships through stories have now become the best form of marketing and it all came down to people’s behavioural patterns. Influencer marketing has helped nurture it into a great form of communicating messages across people.