The Art and Evolution of Influencer Marketing

By Francis Gatonye – April 02, 2019

The rise of Social Media brought about significant changes in the ways people interact with one another and also how companies relate with their consumers.

Influencer marketing just happens to be one of those revolutionary methods transforming the way companies interact with their consumers.

What Is Influencer Marketing?
Just as the name suggests, influencer marketing is collaboration between a company and a person of influence, where the influencer helps the company in marketing their products.

Not to be confused with celebrity endorsements, influencer marketing offers added advantages than celebrity endorsements and has proved itself more effective.

Who Is an Influencer?
On Social media, an Influencer is someone with a significant number of following. They can be bloggers, industry experts on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, fitness experts on YouTube or a fashion enthusiast on Instagram.

Their followers are gained with time as the influencer curves out a niche in a particular industry based on the content they create. As their influence grows, followers start associating them to a particular industry and soon, they are seen as experts or the go-to guys in that field.

How It Evolved
Before the advent of social media, brands would use celebrities who had developed their fame through the traditional forms of media to influence their target market.

They would leverage the celebrity’s fame to reach people that idolize them and therefore create awareness around their brand and raise brand equity.

When social media, become an integral part of our interaction. Companies were able to engage with their consumers on these platforms. They opened accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They also had their own websites so as to engage with their consumers.

But with time it become difficult for companies to constantly keep creating shareable content and have authentic, organic engagement with their consumers. They also required a massive reach and this was not easy to attain especially for startup companies.

Some companies used celebrities to endorse products on their social media platforms. But soon this type of marketing looked unauthentic and out of touch. A celebrity was not required to be an expert in the field in which the products he is endorsing belongs. People value a friend’s recommendation more than any other form of marketing. A friend who had used the product and then tells of their experience is more believable than a celebrity’s smiling face next to a certain brand.

This brought about the rise of influencers, people who spent time producing great content and had a good number of followers built over a period of time. People found them more authentic and relatable than celebrities.

Influencers could engage with their followers, unlike celebrity endorsement where it was more about being seen and heard.

How It Works
Before you begin engaging an influencer for your campaign, like any other marketing campaign, you need to establish your goals. What are your expectations for the campaign? Is it to increase brand awareness, to bring about an increase in sales? Are you promoting an event or introducing a new product?

The goals established are what determine the type of influencer you should be looking for. According to CPC Strategy, there are 3 categories of influencers:

1. Macro-influencers.
2. Power middle influencers.
3. Micro-Influencers.

These are influencers with huge followings, about 250,000 to over 1 Million. They have a massive reach which makes them good for increasing brand awareness. Due to the high number of followers and subscribers, macro-influencers have a low engagement rate.

Power-middle influencers
They have an audience of 10,000 to 250,000 people

They have a smaller audience, about 10,000 or less. Having such an audience, means that micro-influencers have a high engagement. Compared to other categories of influencers, they yield better results since they can lead their followers to action because of their high engagement. They are more relatable to the consumer and have a more organic conversation with their followers. They can help increase a brand’s engagement while at the same time build the brand’s trust in the eyes of the consumers.

Once a relationship is established between a brand and an influencer, the influencer’s role is to create content based on the experience attributed to using your brand. Unlike celebrity endorsement, where all the content was generated solely by the brand, influencer marketing requires content generated by the influencer. This necessary so as to maintain authenticity.

The authenticity in influencer marketing is further elevated by the fact that having taken a considerable amount of time to gain such a following. Influencers are careful to collaborate with only brands that match their niche and also avoid controversial brands that could damage their reputation.

Apart from creating unique content, influencers and brands can work together to create a competition where followers are required to like the brand’s page or follow the brand or the influencer on their social media sites or even sharing the competition post with other friends in order to enter the competition.

Choosing the Right Influencer
A huge following does not make the right influencer. An Influencer has to match your brand’s values and has to be in the same industry. You should look for more than just the number of followers or subscribers an influencer has. Check whether the influencer drives action in his/her followers, not just awareness.

The frequency of interaction between an influencer and his group of followings and also the relevance of their message are also attributes to consider before deciding on whether to work with an influencer or not.

Top level or macro-influencers usually have low engagement rates and come at high prices for many upcoming brands. But they are good for creating brand awareness, due to their greater reach. Low-level influencers, however, have high engagement rates and are less expensive. They help to build a brand’s trust and engagement. Therefore, what your brand aims at the end of a campaign should be what primarily guides you.

Companies have also found it easier to work with a number of low level or micro-influencers because it helps advance their reach at a lower price while at the same time having a high level of engagement with the various demographics of consumers.

The quick rise of influencer marketing shows it’s a strategy that has proved itself effective. As influencer marketing grows, it will now be more compelling for brand to have long term relationships with influencers for greater leverage.

At the same time they will require to see more results from influencers, not just in terms of awareness and engagement but tracking their performance and attributing it to sales.

Francis is a budding Creative Copywriter. You can reach him on