An Introduction to Influencer Marketing

influencer marketing - bigfin

Influencer marketing may arguably be the future of advertising. As one of the fastest-growing online acquisition methods of the year, we believe it may be worth understanding what makes this facet of digital marketing so attractive to brands worldwide. Is the rise of social media influencing just a trend and why has it become so prevalent? In our latest blog, we will discuss the difference between influencers and celebrity endorsers, why social media influencers are so highly regarded, attributes of successful influencers, and whether or not this niche form of marketing will benefit your brand in today’s digitally-dependent age.

Celebrity Endorsements vs. Influencer Marketing

Before social media, influencer marketing was commonly conducted through expensive celebrity endorsements. Celebrities would use their social status as a means to promote products or services. Over time, the introduction of social media has proven to alter the endorsement playing field. This new digital era has produced a different species of endorsers known to many as “social media influencers”. Social media influencers essentially collaborate with like-minded brands or businesses to promote products or services to their specific market segment. The difference between celebrity endorsers and social media influencers lies in how they arose to popularity. A celebrity endorser is idolized by fans and known for their fame and fortune. Sometimes, they experience overnight success (or overnight notoriety). However, a social media influencer; has typically spent years building a community around themselves complete with a unique niche of followers. Their slow and steady growth rate can mean a number of advantages, but most markedly, social media influencers have amassed loyalty, trust, relatability, and credibility. This has us wondering—why has influencer marketing been increasing in popularity?

The Rise of Influencer Marketing

Less and less people trust advertisements, and this notion of “fake news” devalues a lot of once-credible sources. There seems to be a rising favoritism towards influencers, mainly because they are just like anyone else! They are ordinary, relatable people who happen to be passionate and regarded as knowledgeable about their area of expertise. The main difference between them and everyone else is their willingness to share their passion with the rest of the world via original, engaging content on social media. Over time, they build a loyal, dedicated following that is highly involved who looks to influencers as credible advice-givers. Not to mention, social media influencers can be much more affordable than your typical celebrity endorsement deal.

Which Attributes Make Influencers Influential?

Now you may be wondering, what makes these influencers so influential? Studies show that the credibility of a peer endorser is dependent on the following factors: trustworthiness, attractiveness, expertise, and similarity.

Trustworthiness & Expertise – most influencers get their high level of trustworthiness from demonstrating knowledge of one particular theme, such as yoga for example. Over time, they earn a perceived power of expertise on yoga as they persistently demonstrate the act in fun and engaging ways through social posts. Take Rachel Brathen for example, better known as @yogagirl. Her fascination with meditation and yoga turned her into an influencer success story, making her one of the most influential influencers (and one of the world’s highest paid). Also, the number of followers, shares, and likes will provide a sort of social proof and reassurance that it is ok to follow an influencer’s advice.

Attractiveness – Humans are susceptible to attractiveness bias. We subconsciously attribute attractive or charismatic people with other positive qualities simply because they are attractive. This strategy is by no means new, as it has been used by marketers for ages. When an influencer is seemingly attractive, opinions influence the subconscious of the viewer.

Similarity – This may be the most fundamental difference between a celebrity and an endorser. Celebrities often become out of touch with followers, making them less relatable and dissimilar to their own lives. Consequently, influencers are believable. The most successful influencers remain relatable and aware of the attributes and lifestyles of their followers. This especially includes attributes that are more challenging to measure, such as opinions, values, and preferences.

Is Influencer Marketing Right For Your Brand?

We believe while it is on the rise for many brands, influencer marketing does not work for everyone. The most notable industries that benefit from influencer marketing fall under fashion, beauty, health, fitness, traveling, lifestyle, food, and gaming. Regardless, if you are familiar with influencers or breaking into the field for the first time, proper due diligence and research are mandatory in order to find the perfect influencer-brand relationship.

Bigfin on Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing subconsciously shapes consumer thoughts, attitudes, opinions, and behaviors during a time when fake news is prevalent and trust among advertising is at an all-time low. Influencers differ from celebrity endorsements because products and promotions are fed through credible, relatable, trustworthy experts, who know their niche audience better than anyone. This increasingly powerful, yet subtle tool may not be for every brand. More importantly, the effectiveness will always rely on the ability to pinpoint the perfect, engaging figure to promote brand messaging. While no one can say for sure what the future holds, it will be interesting to see how influencer marketing evolves over time. One thing is for certain, we do not foresee influencer marketing going away any time soon.

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