What Is an Influencer?

The terms “influencer” and “influencer marketing” are probably ones you’ve stumbled across frequently as you grow your blog, website, and business. But if you don’t consider yourself an influencer or work with them, you may not understand what it means to be one.

Influencers can take on a variety of forms that looks a bit different to each business or niche. However, one thing is for sure: Influencers hold a lot of power over an audience.

What is an Influencer?

What is an Influencer?

In internet terms, an influencer is someone who holds a lot of weight in whatever it is that they do. Influencers can trigger people to buy products from a company after posting about them on social media. Influencers can convince their audience to try a service because they gave the service a positive review on their blog. A celebrity influencer can spread the word about a political or social issue by wearing a non-profit organization’s t-shirt.

In short, an influencer uses his or her influence on an audience to boost sales, engagement, awareness, or anything else a campaign needs. Businesses usually reach out to influencers after recognizing them as people who can further their brand awareness or sales goals.

Types of Influencers

Types of Influencers

Screenshot via Liza Koshy on YouTube

There are many types of influencers, but they usually fall into one of the following categories:

Content Influencers

Content influencers are known for a specific type of content – like podcasting or video creation – but they may do more than one. Although many people associate the title of Influencer with Instagrammers, it’s actually an umbrella term for people who are well-known in any media channel.

Examples: Liza Koshy (Video), Perez Hilton (Blog), Joe Rogan (Podcast)

Celebrity Influencers

Celebrities often have no problem growing their social media followings and getting in the public eye, which makes them shoe-ins as influencers for many brands. It’s not uncommon to see your favorite celebrities touting the latest fashion accessories or singing the praises of the latest subscription box service.

Examples: Kylie Jenner, Lionel Messi, Ellen DeGeneres

Follower Influencers

“Follower” influencers are those that have high follower counts across most or all of their social media accounts. These influencers can fall into different ranges of followers, like 10k and up or 1 million and up, which affect the type of sponsorships they have. However, brands often consider social media engagement rather than just followers when choosing which influencers to engage.

Examples (Instagram Follower Counts): Chris Crocker (1 million), Erin Stanczyk (36.7k), Jenna Kutcher (901k)

Niche Influencers

Some people are influencers in a specific niche or industry, like business, parenting, or food. Brands usually look for top influencers relevant to their niche to help reach their ideal audience. It’s an effective way to reach thousands of additional members of the brand’s target audience.

Examples: PewDiePie (Gaming), Ana Cheri (Fitness), Chris Burkard (Travel)

Channel Influencers

Not all influencers have as much reach on each social media channel as they do on others. Many are known for their influence on one channel more than others. Brands may look to channel influencers when they’re targeting the audience on a specific social media platform.

Examples: Elon Musk (Twitter), James Charles (YouTube), Amanda Cerny (Instagram)

What Is Influencer Marketing?

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is the use of influencers to enhance a company or brand’s marketing reach. Most of the time, the brand will have a clear-cut influencer campaign strategy put in place before finding influencers to partner with. In some cases, a brand may choose an influencer whom it believes has the right audience for a campaign and will tailor the campaign to blend with the influencer’s audience. A lot goes on behind the scenes of an influencer marketing campaign that you never see, from planning to putting the final video, photo, or blog on the web for all to see.

Becoming an influencer and working with brands in marketing campaigns can become a full-time career. So, it’s not surprising that bloggers, vloggers, and social media kings and queens are turning to sponsorships to monetize their channels. It’s not an easy task, though, as influencers need:

  • A significant number of followers.
  • Engagement. Lots of engagement in the form of likes, comments, or shares.
  • A defined audience.
  • Creativity.
  • Communication skills.
  • Techie knowledge.
  • An excellent understanding of how social media works.

Brands and influencers can match with each other through influencer networks. These networks help brands plan their campaigns and then choose the best influencers from their pools to work with the brand. However, the most popular influencers tend to get deals sent directly to them from brands that want to work with them, simply because of the well-known amount of influence they have in their niche.

Bump Up Your Numbers with Help from ShareThis

As we mentioned, your social media follower numbers are not the be-all-end-all of becoming an influencer. Influence reaches far beyond a number, incorporating creativity, engagement, and a specific audience that trusts you. But the first step toward getting that audience tailored to you is to grow your followers.

Install our social media share buttons to make it easy for your website visitors to share your content to the most popular social media platforms and follow buttons for one-click social media following right from your website. We even have a Social A/B testing tool to make sure your Facebook ads are working to grow and appeal to your audience like they should. These tools will work for you, too, if you’re on the other side of the influencer spectrum as a brand that wants to boost audience reach.