What do DJ Khaled, Ronaldo and Taylor Swift Have in Common?

DJ KHALED: 5.9 million

Cristiano Ronaldo: 101 million

Taylor Swift: 102 millioN

*Instagram Followers*

These three individuals are known as “celebrities” to many. However, they are known as “influencers” in the marketing world.

Influencers? What?

Influencers are individuals who have the ability to INFLUENCE the opinions or buying behavior of your target audience, largely due to their social media following.

So, influencer marketing is another term for celebrity endorsements? Yes. Kinda. In the past (when social media was not a reality), companies would approach celebrities to help them endorse a product or service it provides. Now, with the internet, there are individuals who have access to audiences who could have never been reached by companies through its traditional marketing tactics. That’s where influencer marketing comes into play.

This is a perfect example of influencer marketing. In the Instagram post above, Target is clearly using Zach King as an influencer to promote its brand.

Think about it. Before influencer marketing was popular, Zach King would have never gone out of his way to promote Target. I mean, why would he?

No offense, Target.

However, now that social media has so much of people’s attention, marketers have figured out that spending money on billboards and magazine advertisements isn’t worth the money they were spending.

So, they create Facebook accounts, Instagram accounts, Snapchat, YouTube, you name it. After a while, an organization’s content can only go so far. By that I mean a company can only do so much BY ITSELF to create a want or need for its products or services. This is where the concept of hashtagging comes into play.

If you’re not familiar with hashtagging, check out my last blog post.

Hashtagging will grow your following and create a number of potential business opportunities. This is great news. But after a while, you will want to make an even greater impact and reach an even bigger audience. You need to promote your business, but relying on your existing audience is not what is going to take your organization to the next level.

Influencers enable your brand to gain access and tap into a much larger audience.

Follow this link to find a list of the top digital influencers of 2016.

All these individuals are already popular with your potential stakeholders. In other words, these influencers have a great amount of followers that could have potential interest in becoming your next customer.

Here’s an example. Kendall Jenner. OK, let me give you some background first. Jenner has 81 million Instagram followers. In case you missed that one, I’ll repeat it.

Kendall Jenner has 81 MILLION Instagram followers. Not 81. Not 8,100. Not 81,000.

81,000,000.

Do you know any business that has such a large digital following? To put it in perspective, Google has 4 million Instagram followers. YouTube has 9 million followers. Best Buy has 121K followers. That’s mind-blowing.

Alright so Kendall Jenner is popular. Big deal. Yes, it is a big deal. Of those 81 million people viewing Jenner’s posts, the odds that at least a few thousand are going to be “influenced” is likely.

So, why don’t brands in need of gaining awareness contact all celebrities and individuals with huge social media followings? Well, it’s not that easy. If it were, all our Instagram and Twitter feeds would be would be your favorite personalities talking about products you’ve never heard of.

YIKES.

Going back to our Kendall Jenner example. Let’s say Kraft Foods is having trouble promoting its new mac n’ cheese. It hasn’t sold as well as anticipated. Kraft considers multiple marketing strategies, but it finally comes to the conclusion to contact an influencer in hope of reaching the college student target market.

College students love mac n’ cheese.

Great. Kraft is getting with the times and trying something new. However, there is a problem. The influencer Kraft reached out to was Kendall Jenner. Jenner, 21 years old, fits Kraft’s target market of college-aged individuals. That’s a positive, but that may be the only positive aspect of having Kendall Jenner work with Kraft Foods. Like I said before, if every influencer said yes to every company that wants to do business with them, the advertising world would go haywire.

The threat of “selling out” is when you say yes to every company that offers you compensation for your work. It is easy to say yes to every organization that wants you to “rep” their product on an Instagram post. However, influencers need to be careful so they don’t hurt their personal brand’s reputation.

Jenner has a history of promoting high-end fashion and beauty products. Marketing executives of brands need to be self-aware of who they are and what they stand for.

That being said, having Jenner post about how much she “loves” Kraft’s new mac n’ cheese wouldn’t be relevant to her brand or followers. Jenner’s audience would know something was up when her social media accounts jump from promoting a lipstick to mac n’ cheese. An influencer’s brand is what makes them money. It is their business. That being said, they can’t risk “selling out” and saying yes to every brand that approaches them. Influencers, like brands, need to be self-aware of who they are and what they stand for.

Identifying and finding these influencers is going to be easy and obvious for some industries. However, it is going to be difficult for others. Luckily, you don’t have to guess who is going to bring value to your business. There are tools that make it easy to find the best influencers for you. Websites and tools can do all the work for you. A few useful tools include:

  • Klout
  • Buzzsumo
  • Little Bird
  • Traackr

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of a new way of promoting your business via influencer marketing.

It’s under-priced, under-valued and worth the try.