Marketing has always had a language of its own. It can feel like new buzzwords are added every week — and some have wildly different interpretations from one marketer to the next. Take “influencer marketing,” for example. Some see it as paying influential types like celebrities. We see it as a much more nuanced channel for brands.
So we’re breaking these buzz word down to their simplest (literal) terms, with a little help from Merriam-Webster and our Expert marketing team:
Someone who is seen as an expert in a category. They’re also sought out for their recommendations on what to buy. This someone is both credible and authentic. You can usually spot an influencer based on how passionate and trusted they are and how much first-hand experience they have within a category.
An influencer with a large following — think celebrity or Internet sensation. These influencers can do a lot to drive awareness but often come with a high price tag. And if not chosen correctly, they can be seen as less authentic and trustworthy to consumers.
These influencers have a smaller reach than macro-influencers, but produce a higher quality of influence. Micro-influencers are seen as credible, passionate experts in their category and are often sought after for their recommendations. Due to their passion, they’re a highly engaged and active audience.
Someone who is well-known and famous. Be it an actor, professional athlete or TV personality. These influencers receive compensation for their promotion. They have a large fan base and command high prices to promote brands and products.
The challenges with celebrity influence are two-fold. Studies show that if executed incorrectly, the consumer may remember the celebrity but not the brand. And if not chosen correctly, the lack of authenticity may reflect poorly on the brand.
Someone who enjoys a product or service so much that they tell others about it. These influencers are driven by brand loyalty.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE MARKETING
Using social media campaigns to raise awareness. These efforts are measured by metrics such as reach, impressions, re-tweets, shares, etc. They mostly include posts by people with large followings: celebrities, bloggers, YouTube stars, etc.
The challenge with this form of marketing is that you often have to pay for that large reach and disclosure the relationship, which can impact the quality of the recommendation.
Someone who is hired to represent a brand in a positive light in order to increase brand awareness and sales. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics.
Influence that is earned through years of experience and not paid for — therefore it’s seen as more authentic. This is influence gained by those who are driven by passion and not money.
Influence that is paid for. You pay a person with some sort of elevated status or ability to speak about your brand or product.
Side note: FTC guidelines state that if a person is paid to endorse a product or brand, they must disclose that they have been paid.
A person who chooses to interact with a brand because of his or her passion and interest in what the brand does and not for monetary gain.
An unpaid form of promotion that takes place when consumers share their experiences with a brand or product either online or in person.
Influencer marketing includes word-of-mouth marketing activities but not all word-of-mouth marketing comes from influencer marketing.