The term ‘influencer’ is used to describe someone who has achieved a certain amount of prestige on social networks and is able to ‘influence’ their followers’ choices, thanks to their considerable communicative abilities. Not everyone possesses such abilities and the market is now starting to become saturated, but those who manage to be successful at it can earn mind-blowing sums of money.
Businesses have been aware of the advertising potential of these individuals for some time and that is why they have set up (often multi-million dollar) collaborations with leading personalities on the web scene.
How an influencer starts
The web has been and still is a fertile ground for this new profession. While in the past, young people dreamed of becoming astronauts, footballers or fire fighters, nowadays they hope to become successful on the internet. This phenomenon has reached such proportions that it has almost saturated the market.
New influencers emerge every day, thanks to the wide range of sectors they can choose to specialise in. Fashion remains one of the most popular, thanks mainly to the huge amount of business it generates and the huge number of companies involved.
There are also, however, plenty of individuals who talk about IT, electronics, videogames, DIY tips, travel and many other topics. What they have in common is a remarkable ability to create engagement, in other words the ability to capture their target audience’s attention with a post or video.
The various types of influencer
It is of great importance to any company deciding to invest in these people that they understand which type of influencer they are dealing with. Usually, these individuals have a very specific approach towards their public, which can vary according to their style and the skills at their disposal, including:
- the consumer, who addresses a limited audience (or niche) with a simple message only for those who are genuinely interested;
- the expert who aims to reach just a few interested people, but possesses a certain level of knowledge about the topic he discusses;
- the guru who has a good level of know-how about the topic proposed and addresses a wider target audience;
- and the VIP, who, despite lacking any specific skills, is able to reach a large number of people with his message.
In addition, there are also other types of influencer who are not linked with the above concept. Brand advocates, for example, are ordinary people who do not receive payment from any particular company and speak freely to express their opinions on various products.
There are also brand ambassadors, who are knowledgeable about the product they discuss and are officially nominated by the company itself (rather like celebrities who endorse saucepans or mattresses on TV).
Why companies use influencers
The professional role of the influencer has grown and become established over the years thanks to investments made by companies. Entrusting sponsorships to extraordinary individuals who are able to attract millions of spectators with their posts and videos costs much less than traditional advertising campaigns.
As well as reduced costs, web influencers also offer the opportunity to reach a specific target easily, not to mention the level of trust they are able to build among their followers (a valuable asset which should not be underestimated).
A company that needs to choose which influencers to invest in, must take into account certain criteria, as follows:
- First, of course is the number of followers (as this gives a general idea of the size of the audience it will be possible to reach);
- The communication techniques and frequency of posts, with special regard to how the public reacts;
- The channels used by the influencer also have a certain importance;
- Last but not least is the TOV (or tone of voice used to address the fans), which must be in keeping with the company philosophy.
Nowadays, an influencer can earn between 500 and 50,000 Euros per post, according to their level of influence, fame and communicative abilities.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith