With traditional social media marketing, a brand can set up its identity on whatever platform it chooses, and as time passes and its follower bases grow, it can see who its brand champions are. These are the customers who like and share content or mention the brand itself in a post. Followers like these can be further nurtured through personal attention and as part of a highly segmented group of all the brand champions. Efforts to market to this group focus on ways to keep them spreading the word.
One problem with this approach is that some of a brand’s followers just don’t have enough followers themselves to make much impact. In fact, most ordinary people on social networks don’t. Most people have a small network of maybe a few hundred friends and associates representing all kinds of tastes and preferences. Meanwhile, brands struggle to curate and create content that they hope will resonate with their followers in some meaningful way while staying engaged with day-to-day interactions.
This scattershot approach to social marketing yields predictably erratic results. Instead of blindly trying to grab likes and followers or throwing various bits of content out to see what sticks, influencer marketing tells us that our time is better spent marketing directly to influential people whose likes and dislikes we already know — they align well with our own. This means engaging with these people across social accounts—not just following and liking but commenting and demonstrating knowledge and a personality. It can also mean curating or creating content that’s hand-picked to get the attention of influencers. So, while it’s the influencer’s audience that’s the ultimate prize, the target market for brands includes the influencers themselves.