Influencer Marketing: Influence Vs. popularity

Influencer Marketing: Influence Vs. popularity

A common misconception in today’s digital age is that influence and popularity are the same things. Or rather, you must be popular to be an influencer. But this is entirely inaccurate. When it comes to influencer marketing, influence and popularity are two different things, and far too frequently, brands seeking to run an influencer marketing campaigns fall short by thinking that the number of followers is the only thing that matters. So what is influencer marketing, and which should you be investing your money in?

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves a person who is influential to consumers on social media. This person typically promotes a brand or product to their followers in exchange for compensation. Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing that links endorsements and product placement to influencers, people, and organizations with a large following and impact. Influencers range from micro-influencers, who is an influencer with approximately 5,000 to 25,000 followers, to celebrity influencers who have 7,000,000+ followers.

An influencer marketing campaign is a strategy that finds a person who has a strong influence over an audience and partners with a brand to expose their audience to that brand’s message. An influencer marketing campaign allows a brand to take advantage of said influencers reach and engagement to promote its brand to connect with new audiences in a natural and meaningful way.

A successful influencer marketing campaign should help you increase brand awareness, build authority, and connect with your target audience.

Influence vs. Popularity

An influencer is someone who has the ability to influence others. An influencer, as it pertains to social media, is someone who wields their influence through social media. When a brand partners with an influencer whose vision aligns with theirs, the campaign can reach your target audience, build trust, and drive engagement. This influencer will do this by creating original content that their specific audience finds engaging. Influencer marketing is different from typical marketing tactics because the influencer will not follow a brand’s advertising style or template; they will create content that is unique and exciting to those who follow them on social media platforms.

Influence itself is “the power to have an effect on people or things”, therefore, when a brand assumes credibility strictly based on an influencer’s number of followers alone, ROI cannot be ensured. Popularity does not necessarily equate to influence. Take Carole Baskin from the Netflix hit, The Tiger King. Carole is famous but she is only popular because people hate her so much; She may have many followers, but she wouldn’t have the power to influence many of her followers.

Influence is not derived from the number of followers, clicks, or even likes that a person has, and it isn’t always noticeable from the frequency of which users participate in these actions. These may serve as some of the indicators of influence, but they are not the only factors of influence. Put merely, popularity is defined as having a broad reach, whereas influence is the depth of reach that is had over the audience. So which should you be investing your marketing dollars in? Well, that all depends on your campaign goals.

Your Next Marketing Campaign

What is the goal of your next marketing campaign? What would you consider to be a successful campaign?

Do you strive to reach a targeted and engaged audience with a high conversion rate? Or do you seek to create brand awareness through an increase in impressions and followers?

These goals are essential to clarify prior to moving forward with your next marketing campaign because your campaign goals will lead you to make a crucial decision- Do you need to collaborate with an influencer? If so, what type of influencer do you need to collaborate with? These questions can be answered simply by configuring the goals of your campaign. A campaign with a goal to aim for a wide reach audience would seek out popularity, and a campaign with a goal of depth of reach within their audience would seek out influence.

While influence and popularity may look the same, they certainly are not. Influence is different than popularity. When it comes to influencer marketing, we seek to find a person who has a strong influence over an audience.

As fun as it is to have a celebrity influencer with a large follower count of one million and above, it doesn’t always mean that this influencer will be the best influencer to work with on your campaign. Sure, they’re famous and exciting, but their followers might not resonate with a promotional post or find it as relevant as the followers of a niche expert influencer with significantly fewer followers would.

When you choose to work with an influencer because of their popularity, it’s more challenging to measure the success of a campaign. This is because you are choosing to work with this influencer because of their popularity, follower count, and content impressions rather than the level of resonance and relevance of the followers. Therefore, it’s hard to tell who is listening when it comes to popularity.

Ideally, it would be great to find an influencer who is both popular and has a strong influence over their audience as it pertains to your brand. Follower count is an irrelevant measure of the audience that follows an influencer who doesn’t care about the content they are sharing. In this case, the brand would fall short on their return on investment.

Finding the Happy Medium

In conclusion, influence and popularity are not mutually exclusive. Let’s say you are creating a campaign to market a wet hair hairbrush with a campaign goal to both raise brand awareness and increase sales. With goals such as these, your best bet would be to seek several influencers; An extremely popular celebrity influencer with a large social media following and several micro-influencers with fewer followers. The Celebrity influencer would serve as your primary influencer, with an overall goal of increasing brand awareness. While the several micro-influencers who are in the niche beauty industry would have an overall goal of converting leads to sales and would increase your sales and reflect positively on your ROI. The micro-influencers are more likely to have followers who resonate with your brand and can relate to your product because the followers of your micro-influences are more engaged and influenceable, resulting in higher click-through rates and an increase in sales.

In the end, it all depends on the goals of your influencer marketing campaign, but if nothing else, take with you this last insight; Seek out an influencer who knows their audience and knows what content will resonate with and relate to their followers.  

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