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What Makes You An Influencer?

“Individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship. In consumer spending, members of a peer group or reference group act as influencers. In business to business (organizational) buying, internal employees (engineers, managers, purchasers) or external consultants act as influencers.” – Business Dictionary

An influencer is an individual who has above-average impact on a specific niche process. Influencers are normal people, who are often connected to key roles of media outlets, consumer groups, industry associations or community tribes.  Influencers may or may not be aware of your company, but represent control of an audience segment that is important to your business.

Influencers are vital in any industry, niche or relationship. How do you spot one, be one or how do you know if you are already one?

Such individuals are not simply marketing tools, but social relationship assets. If you are an influencer, you may be the person responsible for affecting key contracts, supporting new product releases you may have, or be a  part of a resource pool that increases market awareness and industry shifts before they happen.

Perhaps the key to being an influencer, as far as influencing or influencer marketing is concerned, is that you have a solid following in a particular niche, which you actively engage with. The size of your following will depend on the size of your niche. For instance, an influencer in fashion would normally have a much larger following than an influencer in stamp collecting.

Influencers may be a part of any of these:

  • Journalists
  • Academics
  • Industry analysts
  • Professional advisors
  • Celebrities
  • Individual brand advocates
  • Family Members
  • Advertising supporters
  • Best friends
  • Boards of advisers
  • Internal employee leaders
  • Enthusiast group leaders
  • Social connectors
  • Broadcast media (TV, radio)
  • Personal blogs

    This of course implies that the editor of say, a known media outlet or even a  national newspaper is arguably as much an influencer as a celebrity, as is a political activist  or a highly viewed YouTuber who wows followers and fans. Therefore, the definition of an influencer often needs to be clearly defined for each instance, in order to establish the presently viewed objectives and to focus on which individuals, fit into the what is being considered to be a social influencer. This can differ for each niche,brand, campaign or even conversation.

In the end, influencers are a key type of evangelist for companies. Do you have a following of people who respect your opinions on certain issues, products or services? you may be selling yourself short if you haven’t been cashing in on it. In marketing, people like you can be used in a variety of ways to promote a brand.

Like an endorser? Yes and no.

Yes, because you do end up using a particular product or service and letting people know about how good it is. No, because endorsers are valued for their overall celebrity and not their particular expertise and rhetorical clout within certain limited circles.

An endorser would be Rita Dominic selling a Zaron lipstick. If you think about it, why would you trust Rita Dominic when it comes to lipsticks? She doesn’t make lipsticks and niether is she a known lipstick enthusiast. She would have been chosen merely because she’s a celebrity, one that is popular among the target market of Zaron lipstick lovers, but this popularity only goes as shallow as knowing her as a celebrity, not necessarily in engaging her personally to get her opinion on lipsticks.

Influencers are actually known by their audience, as much as one can know someone from talking to them over a computer screen or smartphone. Influencers know particular products because they use them in one of the main aspects of their lives. For instance, mothers know baby food. Athletes know sports drinks. Stylists know clothes. So when one of these individuals start talking about these products, and have people pay attention, then they are influencers.

Another important facet of being an influencer is that you have leverage within a certain community due to your personal engagement with these people that allowed you to build a rapport. Essentially, this means that you could communicate regularly with your fans—the target market of these brands—to the point of knowing some of them by name.

That is why many brands engage influencers simply by partnering with them, by doing this, you allow them to reach the same people you reach on a regular basis without the trouble of building their own fan base as you would have already done it for them. This is especially important when you consider that very few people actually want to constantly engage with a brand. They would much rather engage with a human being who shares their interests. This is why influencers can potentially create better brand equity. It is as if a brand is directly engaging with these people, it’s just that instead,  the brand is represented by an influencer- you.

Bloggers and social media influencers with millions of followers on their accounts are  flown around the world by designers and can charge thousands for an Instagram post. That’s how important social influencers are these days. As The Committee of Advertising Practise releases new guidelines for social influencers, Vogue‘s Sarah Harris investigates how today’s fashion bloggers and Instagram starlets make it work, as published in the March 2017 issue.

For a successful influencer, integrity is everything. “I won’t compromise,”  says one of the most influential bloggers, Camille.  The projects that are turned down are perhaps more crucial than those agreed to. A good agent will see past dollar signs and help strategise. “Tiffany could come along with a great offer, but if your dream is to work with Cartier, then maybe you say no to Tiffany,” explains Camille.

Maybe when you’re spoilt for choice? but before then, proving to be the kind of individual your followers can listen to and depend on for honest straight forward reviews and answers to their questions on your preferences in products and services has a price on it and should not be taken for granted- and that is what makes you an influencer.





Research:vogue.co.uk, influenceranalysis.com, social.ogilvy.com, influencermarketinghub.com, hyprbrands.com