Defining Influence

defining influence

The term influencer marketing is poised to become one of the year’s biggest marketing buzzwords. Topping the list of stock and, potentially, played out buzzwords means that influencer marketing will continue to command an increasing share of the marketing spotlight, while also running the risk of being cast-aside as another weightless industry term. Buzzwords depreciate in value when they are never truly defined and are simply thrown around for the sake of being thrown around. To nip this potential problem in the bud, let’s first define influencer marketing.


At its core, influencer marketing is the practice of influential people sharing brands’ stories. Rather than trying to speak to legions of consumers directly, brands tap subject matter experts and/or enthusiasts to use their social influence (avid fan bases and followings) to share brand product stories in their own distinct voices. Because influencers are so entrenched in their respective fields – fashion, food, technology, family, health, design, etc. – consumers trust their knowledge and seek their opinions and advice.


It’s inherently difficult for brands to mimic this level of consumer trust because their foundations lay in making profits from selling products or services to consumers. While influencers are now also increasingly invested in profiting from brand products, their foundations  lay in entertaining, informing and sharing content with digital consumers.  As hard as they may try, brands advocating for themselves will never be able to connect with consumers on the same level as people who are advocating for a brand. Rather than trying to fight this reality, brands are turning to real people with real influence to connect for them.


The practice of influencer marketing is still relatively new, and as brands and influencers alike navigate the boundaries of these partnerships, one thing is clear:  the relationship between influencers and brands is symbiotic. Brands do not control influencers and influencers certainly do not control brands. In order for a healthy, long-term influencer marketing relationship to exist, brands and influencers must develop mutual respect. In a digital landscape that is bombarded with brands competing for social attention and crowded with rising blog and social personalities, brands and influencers must continue to work together to find a balance that supports brand needs, influencer needs and consumer wants.

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