In the last several years, influencer marketing has boomed into a multibillion dollar industry. It’s no surprise that it continues to attract hundreds of thousands of new creative people to join the market. As the creator economy continues to grow, it’s more important than ever that you think more broadly about who could be influential to your brand.
The truth is that everyone has some level of influence on their peers’ purchasing decisions — especially when they are real, passionate fans of the brand.
That’s why we’re seeing the world’s leading brands look beyond the traditional definition of the “influencer.” Rather than finding influencers based on the size of their following, more brands are redefining what “influential” means to them.
So, who could that be for your brand? Based on your goals, any of these 7 types of influential people could benefit your brand. Meet the new influencers:
Social media influencers
Traditionally, influencers have been known as social media micro-celebrities who create aspirational and highly engaging content in categories ranging from beauty, fashion, travel, food, tech, and so on. They have the ability to capture their audience’s attention with their expert storytelling skills and relatability. Because social media influencers tend to interact with their audience on a daily basis, they have built trust with their audience.
When choosing social media influencers to work with, look beyond their follower account. Instead, focus on influencers who create authentic content, are true to themselves, and work with brands that align with their values.
Look for a mix of nano-influencers (creators with under 10k followers) or micro-influencers (creators with under 60k followers) who have a high engagement rate, align with your brand values, and embody the persona of your target markets. These creators tend to have a lower CPA due to their knowledge about a speciality niche, or because they are just getting started.
Macro-influencers (creators with over 200k followers) are also great brand partners, especially if you’re entering a new market and looking to drive visibility. They have the kind of global reach that can really get you noticed — however, they will typically charge a higher rate than nano and micro- influencers.
Influencers provide more value than one-off social media posts. Because social media influencers have a certain level of fame online, repurposing their content across all of your marketing channels provides the ultimate social proof. Brands can also invite influencers to events to incentivize consumers to be a part of major brand moments, such as store openings and product launches.
Work with social media influencers if:
- You’re looking to increase brand awareness among niche audiences.
- You want to drive sales. These influencers can be an extension of your sales team.
- You want to source on-brand content that can be repurposed across all of your channels.
Have you considered building a network of talented photographers, visual designers, artists, musicians, and illustrators to help tell your brand story? Partnering with creatives is a great way to bring a fresh perspective to complement (or even offset!) the workload of your in-house creative team.
The creatives you work with don't even have to be famous to bring huge value to your brand. They just need to have a style that would suit your existing brand or take it to another level. At the same time, some creatives do accumulate a large following because of their unique artistic skills. Check out one of our favorite creatives, @escapingyouth, whose content is always original and eye-catching.
Work with creatives if:
- You want to produce creative, highly engaging content to fuel your other marketing channels.
- You’re looking for a fresh take on your existing brand assets.
Your customers are the people who already love your product, so who better to share your story than them? Customers do more than purchase products. They leave online reviews, spread word-of-mouth buzz, and sometimes even share your product on social media to tell their friends.
Brands today can engage with customers through user-generated content (UGC). UGC is highly organic content that customers post online without being asked. It allows brands to generate online buzz, interact with consumers, and collect authentic feedback. Not to mention, it doesn’t cost brands a single cent to produce UGC.
Work with customers if:
- You’re looking to gain that social proof to drive more sales.
- You want to source UGC that showcases real customers’ experiences and reviews.
- You want to boost customer lifetime value.
Ambassadors are people who are invited to become long-term brand partners, typically because they embody the brand they’re endorsing and have proven success in previous campaigns. Brand ambassadors could be anyone from “regular” people to celebrities. What matters is recruiting passionate fans, who can authentically promote the brand and implement its products or services into their lives.
Lululemon has an amazing brand ambassador program comprised of fitness instructors and elite athletes. To ensure that Lululemon ambassadors align with brand values, they select those who live a very active lifestyle and can easily incorporate the high-end activewear brand into their lives.
Ambassadorships are by definition long-term partnerships. Brands extensively train their ambassadors on their products and services, as well as on their company’s mission and values. Because of this, ambassadors become true brand experts who can educate their audiences on the products they promote. They can also provide a helping hand when launching a new product or giving honest feedback.
Work with ambassadors if:
- You’re looking to increase long-term sales.
- You want to increase brand awareness.
- You want to source evergreen content that is relevant all throughout the year.
Experts are people who have specialized knowledge in your industry. They’re especially valued in industries like health, beauty, and fitness (think: dieticians, makeup artists, professional athletes). Experts are consumers’ most trusted source when it comes to getting advice and recommendations, because they typically have legitimate credentials to back up their expert status.
Take a look at Rachel Paul — perhaps better known as @collegenutritionist — who dishes out well-balanced meal prep ideas everyday. Not only is she a Registered Dietician, but she also has a PhD in Behavioral Nutrition. Unsurprisingly, her Instagram and blog are flooded by questions about nutrition and healthy recipes.
Particularly in saturated industries like health and wellness, it is hard for consumers to differentiate between legitimate products and fads. To stand out, we’ve seen some brands work solely with experts in their space to educate consumers, provide transparency, and establish credibility in their industries.
Work with experts if:
- You want to gain a competitive edge and trust with your target audience.
- You want to instill confidence in consumers to drive sales.
Affiliates are influential people who promote your products or services and earn a commission depending on the number of conversions they drive. Typically, affiliates work with brands they like, advocate for their products across various social channels, and earn a piece of the profit from each sale they make. The sales they make from their promotion is tracked via affiliate links or promo codes from one website source to another.
Building an affiliate program has proven to be highly cost-effective. Brands get the boost in brand awareness and online conversions without having to set aside a budget to pay the affiliate unless they make sales. It’s a win-win.
Work with affiliates if:
- You’re looking to increase conversions, whether it be clicks, web traffic, or sales.
Have you ever considered giving your employees more opportunities for growth within your company? And we don’t just mean a job promotion. Whether they work in your corporate offices or in brick-and-mortar retail stores, each employee can bring immense value — especially when you incentivize them to promote your products and services. Employees go into work everyday to ultimately help drive growth and profit for the business. When you think about it, employees are some of the best advocates for any brand because their daily routine revolves around improving the brand and its products.
In fact, a recent study showed that all brands should tap into the power of employees through employee advocacy programs. It reported that audiences increase 561% when a brand message is shared by employees versus shared via a corporate channel alone. Additionally, it showed that 26% of employee influencer programs helped increase revenue year-over-year. That’s why brands like L’Occitane and Macy’s are featuring employees across their marketing channels.
Work with employees if:
- You want to provide consumers with behind-the-scenes insights to increase visibility.
- You want to source on-brand UGC.
Diversify your influencer pool
Leveraging the power of your brand community has never been more important. To do so, brands need to engage with a diverse group of influential people. Remember, brands no longer decide what the trends are or what consumers really want so it’s important to diversify who you consider influential to your brand in every sense of the word - from the type of influencer, the channel you work with them on and demographic perspective.
To learn more about how you can discover hundreds of influential people to work with, check out our influencer discovery tools or sign up for a demo to learn more.