What is an influencer? An influencer is someone who has the power to influence the decisions of others. Their recommendations may influence people to buy specific products or follow specific ideas.
Influencers also have large social media followings. They often use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media platforms to grow their audience.
The biggest influencers have the potential to reach millions of people and affect their decisions, which makes them a powerful marketing tool. However, there are many types of influencers.
Types of Influencers
You can separate influences based on a variety of criteria, including the types of content and level of influence. The following four categories separate influencers based on their role:
- Industry experts
- Social media influencers
- Content creators
Celebrities are often the biggest influencers. This group includes artists, athletes, actors, actresses, and pop culture icons.
Many celebrities are also considered mega-influencers, due to the sheer size of their audience. The top 10 celebrities on Instagram have over 100 million followers each.
Industry experts and thought leaders are those that people turn to for helpful information. This includes entrepreneurs and executives at successful companies. They use their industry knowledge to provide followers with effective advice.
Industry experts can offer deep insight thanks to their direct experience with the topics they discuss. They are especially common in technical industries, such as information technology (IT) and online marketing.
Social Media Influencers
Social media influencers are members of the public with large followings. This includes individuals who may not have worked in a specific industry but have experience with it. They have built their reputations based on their knowledge and expertise on specific topics or industries.
Examples include beauty bloggers and mommy bloggers. Social media influencers tend to share helpful tips, product reviews, and recommendations.
Content creators are individuals that focus on the creation of high-quality content for digital platforms, such as social media sites or YouTube.
Many content creators are skilled professionals. They are often photographers, videographers, and artists with years of training or education.
Type of Influencer by Content
Along with separating influencers based on their roles, you can separate them based on the type of content they produce:
- Social Media
Bloggers are individuals that write blog posts. They typically post their blogs to their own personal websites.
Some of the first influencers were bloggers, often in the self-help field. Blogs about health, parenting, finance, travel, and fitness are among the most successful.
Bloggers frequently try to showcase their unique personalities in their content. This helps them build a rapport with their readers, which keeps visitors coming back.
YouTube is one of the most visited websites on the internet. Across the world, viewers watch over one billion hours of content on YouTube each day.
YouTube content creators often incorporate multiple elements, including video, animation, special effects, and sound. They may devote a significant amount of effort into the production of their videos.
Some of the top YouTubers have 100 million or more subscribers. The channels with the most subscribers are often in the comedy, entertainment, and gaming genres.
Podcasters are content creators that produce podcasts. Podcasting is relatively new compared to the other categories. The most popular podcasts receive around 10 million unique downloads, which makes it a smaller category compared to social media.
As with YouTubers, podcasters often use professional production equipment to record high-quality content. Comedy and entertainment are also the most popular genres.
Social Media Stars
Bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters rely on social media to build their audiences. However, some influencers exclusively post content to social media. This often includes celebrities, fashionistas, and photographers that love to share their photographs on Instagram.
The entertainment industry belongs in its own category. Actresses, actors, and musicians may focus more on their craft instead of writing blogs or creating YouTube videos. However, they still tend to build loyal fan bases who want to follow everything they say and do.
Type of Influencer by the Following Size
The number of followers directly impacts an influencer’s influence. Someone with 150 million followers on Instagram has more reach compared to someone with a few thousand followers. The main categories based on follower numbers include:
Mega-influencers have at least one million followers on at least one social media platform. An overwhelming majority of mega-influencers are celebrities that gained fame offline, such as in the entertainment industry.
Mega-influencers are also costly to work with. A contract with a mega-influencer can easily cost $1 million or more. As they need to protect their reputation and celebrity image, mega-influencers are pickier about what they promote.
The number of followers needed to become a macro-influencer depends on who you ask. However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) defines anyone with at least 30,000 followers as an online “celebrity.” After they reach 30K followers, influencers need to follow specific regulations when endorsing products or services.
Based on the ASA definition, 30,000 followers should be considered the cut-off between “macro” and “micro” influencers. These influencers are often industry experts, thought leaders, and minor celebrities. Many successful YouTubers and bloggers belong to this category.
Micro-influencers are members of the public who have gained followers due to their knowledge about a specific niche topic. This may include mommy bloggers and hobbyists who want to share their advice on topics they love.
Micro-influencers typically have more than 1,000 followers and less than 30,000. They are among the easiest influencers to work with as they are often happy to promote a quality product for free.
Nano-influencers are people with a few hundred followers. They do not have a lot of influence. However, they are often useful for spreading the word when launching a new product or brand.
How to Identify an Influencer
The first step in identifying an influencer is to look at the number of followers. To be a micro-influencer, they need at least 1,000 followers.
Use your preferred platform, such as Facebook or Instagram, and search for a topic related to your industry. Look at the profiles with the most followers.
Along with follower size, look at the frequency of their posts. To stay relevant, an influencer should actively release new content at least once per week.
After identifying a few potential influencers, start reading the posts on their social media feeds. Look at the number of times each post is shared or liked. Read comments from followers. These details help you determine the level of influence the influencer has.
How to Work with an Influencer
When you find a suitable influencer, you need to reach out to them on their preferred platform. Submit an inquiry asking if they would be interested in reviewing or promoting your product or brand.
Make sure you do your research and find an influencer that matches your niche market. They are more likely to work with you if your product or brand aligns with their image.
When working with an influencer, assume that you will have limited creative control. Influencers do not enjoy being told how to create content and prefer to use their own methods for showcasing your product.
The Benefits of Working with Influencers
Some of the main reasons to consider working with an influencer include:
- Quickly build trust
- Increase brand awareness
- Reach your target audience
- Enrich the quality of your content
- Provide more value to your audience
Influencers help you sell your product. As with other forms of advertising, the benefits of influencers depend on their reach. Mega-influencers may expose your product to millions of people. Macro-influencers and micro-influencers can help you reach tens of thousands of people.
How to Become an Influencer
The first step in becoming an influencer is to choose your niche. Decide what topic you want to discuss. You then need to decide how you want to discuss it.
For example, do you want to write blogs, create YouTube videos, or record a podcast? Are you an industry expert or an amateur? These details help define your personal brand and the focus of your content.
You also need to choose a platform. As you will need to release content frequently, it helps to focus on one social media platform, such as YouTube or Instagram.
The next step is to create content. No matter the medium, you should produce the best content that you can with your available resources. Take the time to revise your content until you think it can compete with the content that is already online.
After you start releasing content, look for influencers in your niche. Share their posts and build relationships with the leaders in your industry.
Continue to consistently release quality content and your follower base should slowly rise. When you reach at least 1,000 followers, you can consider yourself a “micro-influencer.”
Influencers have become an important marketing tool for building brand recognition and gaining the trust of consumers. When an influencer recommends a product, their followers are more likely to buy it. They use their influence to persuade others.
No matter your industry or business size, you can benefit from working with an influencer. Remember to look for influencers that are the right fit. Focus on influencers in your niche market or industry.
If you want to become an influencer yourself, creating quality content is the most important factor. Pay attention to feedback from your followers and continually strive to release better content.