Prime Insight
Prime Insight

Influencer Marketing: Real People Making an Influence

Posting date: 24 July 2019
Matthieu Pirouelle our consultant managing the role

How Ordinary People Are Changing Social Media Marketing

The strategy of influencer marketing is changing. Thanks to social media, the power of celebrity to sell is being eroded. Real, ordinary people are now able to influence buying decisions in a way that would have been inconceivable at the turn of the millennium.

When technology really started to take off, companies quickly realised the power they had to persuade people to buy their products and services. The most influential television adverts were those ‘hosted’ by or ‘starring’ a well-known face. Celebrity sold. It still does, of course, but the influence of celebrities is waning. 

Today, it is real people who sell. People with whom others can identify. People who others consider to be genuine, rather than paid for. People who have the same hopes and fears as those whom they are influencing. Real people. Today, anyone can influence the actions of others. All you really need is a smartphone and a few social media accounts.

Isn't Influencer Marketing The Same As Social Media Marketing?

In the field of digital marketing, social media marketing is often confused with influencer marketing. This is because the conduits to the target audience are mostly the same – social media channels. Although influencer marketing may also be executed via traditional channels, such as print and TV, the real marketing juice is found online.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is carried out by brands themselves, via their own social media accounts. Companies promote themselves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on. They may deliver written posts, images, videos, infographics and other content that they control. Companies might deliver their online content via paid-for ads, or directly onto their own social media accounts. The idea is to engage their audience, communicating with them and creating conversations that others can share.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing uses many of the same attributes as social media marketing. It is delivered via social media accounts, and may engage an audience in online conversation. For example, visitors comment on Facebook posts, and engage with others as they describe their own experiences and perspectives. However, where influencer marketing differs to social media marketing is that the brands do not control the social media channels used to market by influence.

When a brand brings an influencer onboard, it usually compensates them by direct payment or in goods or services supplied. A little like the food critique who receives a free meal for the privilege of writing and publishing a review of the restaurant, the food presented, and the service received.

Why Does Influencer Marketing Work?

While many may think that influencer marketing is the new kid on the block, influencers have been used by savvy marketers for decades. It’s a highly efficient form of marketing. Influencers provide the content and deliver that content to an already engaged audience of followers. 

Many of the world’s top social media influencers have followers numbered in the millions. For example, makeup expert Huda Kattan is followed by more than 37 million people on Instagram. She is typical of today’s influencers – a real person with a passion. She learned her craft, started a blog, and provided online makeup tutorial videos. She developed a cosmetic line, and now is paid upwards of US$15,000 for each piece of sponsored content she posts. Kattan was named at number one on the 2017 Influencer Instagram Rich List.

Authenticity Connects Brands To Their Audience

Why does marketing through influencers like Huda Kattan work so effectively? It is too simplistic to say because of the number of followers she has, and her highly targeted and engaged audience – though, of course, these factors are a big part of why cosmetics companies pay so much for her. But influencers must build an audience and then retain them. The real key that unlocks the power of influence marketing is authenticity.

Influencers become big news because they are genuine. They connect with audiences, because those audiences relate to them. They share their real-life experiences, their authentic opinions, and the personal preferences. They bare themselves to their followers, and provide a valuable conduit to a brand’s target customers that is typically unavailable to brands otherwise. Even though they promote a brand’s products and services, they are seen by their followers as genuine – in ways that brands cannot be, and celebrities dare not be.

Influencers Have Celebrity Status In Their Own World


This is not to say that influencers don’t have celebrity status; many do, and are considered as internet celebrities. Their celebrity status, created and nurtured by their authenticity, develops loyal and highly-motivated followers who genuinely listen to what influencers have to say. They provide the marketing bang for buck that other strategies cannot.

As an example, a 2016 global study by Kantar Millward Brown found that six in 10 16- to 34-year-olds skipped ads online. When it comes to making this same demographic prefer one brand over others, according to The Trendera Files, social media influencers have more clout than not only online ads, but also:

  • A brand’s own social media content 
  • The celebrities who promote it 
  • The brand’s stance on controversial issues 
  • Any political affiliations

How does the power of influence translate into sales? According to Twitter, 40% of people say they purchased a product online after seeing it used by an influencer on social media. Compare this to the meagre 1% of millennials who trust adverts

Is It Really Possible To Make It Big As An Influencer?

Huda Kattan is not on her own as a ‘nobody’ who has reached online celebrity status as a social media influencer. With the right attitude, skill sets and determination to succeed, many have become influencers in their areas of expertise – their passions. Here are a few more examples.

Chiara Ferragni – Fashion, Hair and Toys

Chiara Ferragni is a fashion influencer. From her early days as a blogger, Ferragni has built a following of around 12 million on Instagram and more than a million on Facebook. She is a brand ambassador for Pantene and Mattel, the toy company.

Josh Ostrovsky – Beer and Burgers

Better known as ‘The Fat Jew’, Ostrovsky’s satirical view of life has won him more than 10 million followers on Instagram. He posts short, sharp, refreshing takes on life. Oh, and he has also been paid to do product placement for companies such as Apple and Virgin Mobile – and Budweiser and Burger King. He’s even partnered with Madonna to promote MDNA SKIN.

Kayla Itsines – A Fat Purse from Fitness

Kayla is an Australian personal trainer, who started putting her routines down on video on the suggestion of her partner Tobi Pearce. This was after she had already built up a following of a few hundred thousand on Instagram. Using the social media channel had been the brainchild of her then 12-year-old cousin.

Itsines is a fitness icon, founded the Bikini Body Training Company, published books, and produced diet plans. She has also promoted Apple products, cleansing products for Tatcha, footwear by Brooks, and skincare products from Drunk Elephant, among others brand affiliations.

With more than 10 million followers, her personal wealth is estimated at around $50 million.

Kylie Jenner – One Million Dollars per Sponsored Instagram Post

Reality star turned model-socialite-businesswoman, Jenner has leveraged her fame to become an influencer with real pulling power. She may have her own cosmetics company, but that doesn’t stop her selling her access to more than 100 million followers for big bucks. It is estimated that she makes $1 million per sponsored post on Instagram.

Zach King – Sponsored to Vlog

Zach King started a website to offer tips on the Final Cut Pro software for filmmakers. After growing his audience, he started selling training seminars and used the cash to pay his college fees. His fame really took off on YouTube, when he posted a short film of two cats fighting with light sabers.

King was also active on Vine, and attracted sponsorships from companies such as Nickelodeon and Coca-Cola. Today, he accepts sponsorships from organisations such as Kellogg’s and Tic Tacs.

King’s sponsorships account for around 75% of his earnings, estimated at more than $200,000 per year.

Companies Need Influencers - Three Who Got It Right

As you’ve read in this article, the statistics show that customers sit up and take notice of influencers. Influencer marketing is the ‘new’ strategy that brands are jumping on, though it is not without its challenges. It can be expensive ($1 million per post for Jenner), and many companies find it difficult to identify and connect with major influencers. The relationship between brand and influencer must be managed effectively for the partnership to be successful.

Here are three examples of companies that got influencer marketing right.

Motorola Gains 80,000 First-Time Visits On The Launch Of Moto Mods

When Motorola wanted to market its new Moto Z family and Moto Mods smartphones, it realised that the marketing needed to appeal to a young demographic. It also realised that these would be found on social media, especially YouTube.

To drive awareness, Motorola worked with 13 YouTube influencers to target different audiences. Each created a partnership announcement, a hero YouTube video, and further social media posts to help drive traffic. The result was almost 12 million views and more than 38 million social impressions – leading to 122,000 click-throughs and 80,000 first-time visitors.

Dunkin' Donuts Dips Into A Snapchat Tsunami

National Donut Day. Sounds like a perfect excuse for a delicious treat. But do you know the date?

Dunkin’ Donuts wanted to spread the word, and partnered with digital talent network Collab to create a national Snapchat campaign. Eight influencers were selected to create content about Dunkin’ Donuts’ special offer for National Donut Day. The campaign ran for 24 hours, across three time zones.

Followers on Snapchat were able to use the offer in-store. The successful campaign beat all expectations, with Dunkin’ Donuts adding ten times more followers on Snapchat on National Donut Day than was typical in a whole month.

M&Ms Leave Their Product In The Hands Of Their Fans

M&Ms had never done anything like this before. It wanted its fans to choose the newest peanut flavour. There were three choices – Honey Nut, Chilli Nut, and Coffee Nut.

Running the vote like an election, M&Ms selected nine social influencers as ‘campaign managers’. It was their job to win support for their ‘candidate’. They onboarded 20 more influencers to create visual content. These spread their messages across their networks, encouraging followers to go and vote for their favourite flavour.

Coffee Nut won, though the real winner was M&Ms. The strategy resulted in:

  • 269 million public relations/social media/influencer impressions 
  • 216 influencer partner posts 
  • 14.4 million social engagements
  • 1 million votes

1 million votes to ‘elect’ an M&Ms flavour. That’s more than many presidential hopefuls might receive.

How Much Could You Earn In Influencer Marketing?

Connect With Matthieu Pirouelle

Success as an influencer doesn’t come overnight. But if you are passionate, dedicated and innovative, your earnings could grow exponentially. How much you could earn depends on several factors, including your following and the brand name wanting exposure. However, according to reports, the average influencer may earn:

  • US$1,000 per 100,000 followers on Instagram 
  • US$500 and more per 24-hour campaign on Snapchat
  • Around US$2,000 per 100,000 followers on YouTube

For people who want more than a mundane experience in marketing, and who have the skill set to succeed, there are opportunities both sides of the fence in the field of influencer marketing. Companies want to connect to influencer marketing. They need the people to manage these relationships, run campaigns, and create influential success.

To discuss your options and how to follow a different career path, contact Prime Insight today.

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