10 Remarkable Influencer Marketing Facts

What mar­keters need to know about influ­ence to remain rel­e­vant to con­sumers.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 1 comment

While Meryl Streep and Robert Red­ford may epit­o­mize celebri­ty to con­sumers of cer­tain gen­er­a­tions, this notion is wild­ly out­dat­ed to Mil­len­ni­als and Gen­er­a­tion Z. The celebri­ty spokesper­son of yore is already being sup­plant­ed by dig­i­tal per­son­al­i­ties in many cam­paigns in part to pro­vide what con­sumers per­ceive as more authen­tic con­tent. But what else do mar­keters need to know about influ­ence as it stands today and where it is head­ed?

In per­haps one of the more pro­found sound bites from Social Media Week, Matt Brit­ton, CEO of cre­ative and tech­nol­o­gy agency MRY, said dur­ing one pan­el, “Being an influ­encer is more lucra­tive than a doc­tor or a lawyer these days. The oppor­tu­ni­ties are end­less.”

And he has a point. But in addi­tion to being poten­tial­ly prof­itable for influ­encers them­selves, brands and mar­keters can also reap plen­ty of rewards if they know how to tap the right per­son­al­i­ties.

Here are 10 remark­able influ­encer mar­ket­ing facts that you need to know about work­ing with dig­i­tal per­son­al­i­ties going for­ward.

Fact #1: The Idea Of Celebrity Is Changing

The idea of what defines fame is shift­ing from the A‑list Brads and Angeli­nas of tra­di­tion­al Hol­ly­wood to dig­i­tal fig­ures, says Pauline Mal­colm, vice pres­i­dent of agency strat­e­gy and devel­op­ment at short-form video firm Mak­er Stu­dios, point­ing to a Vari­ety sur­vey that found six of Mil­len­ni­als’ top celebri­ties were YouTube stars.

In fact, the most influ­en­tial fig­ures list­ed by teens include: com­e­dy duo Smosh, online pro­duc­ers The Fine Bros. and Swedish video game play­er and YouTube per­son­al­i­ty PewDiePie, the sur­vey said.

More tra­di­tion­al Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties like actress Jen­nifer Lawrence and singer Katy Per­ry came in at num­bers 7 and 9, respec­tive­ly.

It’s com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent than what you’d think of five years ago,” Mal­colm said.

Fact #2: PewDiePie Is Leading The Way

PewDiePie is “the most influ­en­tial per­son right now in dig­i­tal media,” Mal­colm said.

With 35 mil­lion YouTube sub­scribers, “he real­ly under­stands his audi­ence,” Mal­colm added. “He cre­ates a video and it has mil­lions of views in five min­utes.”

In fact, accord­ing to a 2014 Forbes sto­ry, he brings in $4 mil­lion in ad sales per year.

Fact #3: Influencers Are Powerful In Part Because Consumers Are Narcissistic

Younger con­sumers want not only authen­tic con­tent, but con­tent in which they see a reflec­tion of them­selves.

The audi­ence wants to see them­selves and are grav­i­tat­ing [to influ­encers] because they are like them­selves,” Mal­colm said. “Think about this gen­er­a­tion. Every­one wants their 5 to 10 sec­onds of fame. Those influ­encers are real­ly con­nect­ing and they see them­selves and it gives this [sense that] every man can be a mak­er or a celebri­ty.”

Fact #4: Like Traditional Fame, Luck Is A Big Part Of The Influence Equation

As enter­tain­ing as Smosh and PewDiePie may be, it isn’t always about just tal­ent.

I don’t think there’s a [for­mu­la to becom­ing an influ­encer],” said Har­ry Bern­stein, cre­ative direc­tor of dig­i­tal agency The 88. “They’re just mak­ing con­tent and engag­ing with a plat­form and it’s kind of dumb luck. It’s like there’s a mil­lion peo­ple who can sing and one Madon­na.”

In addi­tion, Bern­stein said that plat­forms are free, open, and engaged. The moment of recog­ni­tion some­times sort of just hap­pens for a lucky few.

For some peo­ple it hap­pens and for some it doesn’t. It per­pet­u­ates itself,” he said. “And the growth that hap­pens after access is sup­port­ed by the media in some way, like when Vogue lists its top blog­gers. When that hap­pens, it grows.”

Joey Kotkins, CMO at social mar­ket­ing plat­form Inside Social, agrees it’s a com­bi­na­tion of luck and tal­ent and focus that makes influ­encers influ­en­tial.

If they can seize the moment and their audi­ence real­izes they can con­tin­ue on a growth path with them and their con­tent and per­son­al­i­ty is show­ing through, they can con­tin­ue to grow and excit­ing things will fol­low,” Kotkins said.

Fact #5: True Influencers Drive Action

No mat­ter what plat­form they are on, influ­encers are able to dri­ve action (i.e., sales) with their posts.

Brands want to grow their fol­low­ings, so those [influ­encers] we want to work with are [the ones] who have true influence…to real­ly dri­ve action in some­one else,” Bern­stein says. “That dri­ving action is the dif­fer­ence between pop­u­lar­i­ty and actu­al­ly hav­ing influ­ence.”

Fact #6: Influence Can Change Overnight

In the fick­le dig­i­tal world, a sin­gle post can change every­thing for both an influ­encer and a brand.

More than any­thing, social has enabled the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of influ­ence,” Kotkins said. “Any­one who has no influ­ence today can have a ton tomor­row for any num­ber of rea­sons. And if a brand can iden­ti­fy that future influ­ence and talk [to the influ­encer] soon­er than any­one else, they can mag­ni­fy the pow­er of that influ­ence in a mean­ing­ful way.”

Fact #7: Some Platforms Create Their Own Influencers

Bern­stein points to plat­forms like Pin­ter­est and Insta­gram, which sug­gest users and are “build­ing their own kind of influ­encers.”

That’s because these plat­forms are in essence reveal­ing who they think are most impor­tant and/or relat­able to giv­en users.

Fact #8: Influencers Are Cheaper, And More Targeted, Than Celebrities

Mar­keters that opt to work with influ­encers can drill down to find dig­i­tal fig­ures with exper­tise with­in a spe­cif­ic world, which, ide­al­ly, ties back to the prod­uct and/or brand in ques­tion like nev­er before.

Ulti­mate­ly what these peo­ple have is a hybrid of influ­ence and dis­tri­b­u­tion, which was some­thing not pos­si­ble with tra­di­tion­al tal­ent,” said Ben­jamin Davis, agent at tal­ent agency William Mor­ris Endeav­or. “They’re also in a very spe­cif­ic niche. That’s what’s appeal­ing.”

Fact #9: Influencers Must Remain True To Themselves To Retain Influence

The dig­i­tal world has infi­nite nich­es, which means, in the­o­ry, there’s an influ­encer out there some­where whose voice fits each brand need.

But it’s impor­tant for brands to engage some­one who can actu­al­ly be them­selves,” Davis said. “And that’s on the brand’s side to ascer­tain.”

Fact #10: Some Brands Are Influencers

In oth­er words, cer­tain icon­ic brands have their own dig­i­tal clout on par with dig­i­tal per­son­al­i­ties.

Chanel has the most hash­tags of any brand on Insta­gram and didn’t have Insta­gram,” Bern­stein says. “It’s big­ger than social. There will always be brands that rep­re­sent cer­tain things.”

Although, per Insta­gram, Chanel debuted an Insta­gram chan­nel in Novem­ber.

Did you find any of these influ­encer mar­ket­ing facts sur­pris­ing?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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