With social media, you can be connected to thousands of people across the globe through one community on Facebook or help a stranger receive the financial help they need to fund a life-saving medical procedure. Social media allows users to connect and empathize with people across the globe.

Over the years, social media has grown to huge proportions. For instance, Facebook now has over 2.41 billion users and Instagram comes in at one billion. Social media has grown from a nonchalant kids’ corner of the internet into an international sensation and addiction.

Understanding influencer marketing

With so much buzz on social platforms, it’s no surprise that businesses began to wonder how they could capitalize on these communities. Traditional advertising methods were always an option, but in an age where users have the power, why not just further empower the users? Thus, influencer marketing was born! Influencer marketing is the means by which brands select social media powerhouse accounts to market their products and services to their social media following.

This way, brands connect directly to their target audience, influencers make money based on their contract and how much business they bring the brand, and users can learn about new products and services in a way that feels more natural than an advertisement.

Influencer marketing has risen in popularity alongside the growth of social media. Over the last three years, Google searches for “Influencer Marketing” have grown by 1500% and, by the end of this year, influencer marketing is expected to become a $6.5 billion industry. But how do influencers use social media? As a means to refer great products and services to their followers.

One of the biggest reasons why social media influencers and influencer marketing have become so powerful is because these marketing tactics are basically referral marketing on steroids. For example, influencer marketing in the beauty industry started when beauty gurus on YouTube would talk about their favorite products and brands. Users would research things like what the best waterproof mascara is or what high-end make-up products are worth the hype — and content creators would then create a video explaining where users should spend their money.

Those videos would amass hundreds of thousands of views and, in turn, result in hundreds of thousands of sales for brands that were deemed favorable. This chain of events is just one of the reasons explaining how influencer marketing is a game-changer.

The many types of influencers

There are many different types of social media influencers that you can work with depending on your desired end results. Consider what you want to achieve with your influencer marketing campaign and influencer marketing strategy, whether it’s increased brand awareness or generating more traffic to drive sales. By deciding what you want to achieve, you can then choose the kind of social media influencer that best suits your needs. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Photographers

Photographers across all social platforms have great followings, especially if those photographers consistently upload and post content. One of the best things about choosing a photographer for your influencer marketing campaign is the collaborative nature of these partnerships.

Photographers chosen as influencers will generally work their rates into a contract so they can shoot images for your brand and can also post those photos on their own social media platforms. Brands looking to increase their portfolio with new imagery and who want increased brand awareness should reach out to photographers.

  • Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers are usually found on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, and have a following of a couple hundred thousand or less. Their followership’s are strong and tend to serve a specific kind of digital community. It could be anything from gaming to beauty or dance. These influencers are great for brands that want to target a specific niche market to drive sales and awareness.

  • Socially Famous Influencers

These kinds of influencers are typically regarded as “Instagram Famous,” “Twitter Famous,” or “YouTube Famous” (or any other social site), and can have followerships that range between 800k to well over a million—sometimes even more. These influencers have become superstars because of social media and have followerships that not only passively watch, but also aggressively engage.

These kinds of influencers inspired Instagram to create shoppable tags because users wanted to know what influencers were wearing and where they could get that piece for themselves. Previously, influencers would just tag the brand they bought the piece from, but now you can directly shop for each individual item (with participating businesses). For brands looking to make a splash, state their relevance in today’s youth, or drive sales, socially famous influencers are the way to go.

  • Thought leaders

Thought leaders can be authors, politicians, activists, sports radio announcers — or basically anyone who has an opinion and shows it online. These people are great for businesses that want to drive sales, as thought leaders are often practiced in the art of persuasion. These are the people you can choose as your champions.

  • Bloggers

Bloggers make great influencers because they are writers and storytellers. They can reimagine your brand to a new audience and show them why your business is the best. Bloggers are a great choice for brands that want to increase their brand recognition and authority.

  • YouTube Vloggers

Vloggers are probably the most notable influencers of the day, as they are regularly seen promoting brands on their channels. Influencer marketing is most easily recognizable in vlogs because creators will outright thank different brands for sponsoring their videos, or say this video was made in collaboration with x, y, or z.

Vloggers are great influencers for brands that want to generate leads and increase sales. If the vlogger you chose also becomes a brand rep, that influencer could be known for your brand and you could receive a sizable sum for your investment.

  • Working Professionals

Apart from social media famous influencers, brands can also choose to work with professionals who are active on their social accounts. You can choose sports professionals, actors, actresses, business professionals, and more. These kinds of influencers are really about increasing the authority of your brand.

While they have much to gain from your business, you also have a lot to gain from their backing of you. Apart from their fan-base, working professionals can also increase your brand authority through their network. Choose a working professional as your influencer if you want to increase your recognition and authority through their network.

When going to choose your influencers, don’t ask, “who are the top social media influencers?” Instead, ask, “which influencers will make the most impact for the results I want for my business?” That’s the key to successful influencer marketing.

How hashtags are changing the influencer marketing game

Hashtags started out as a means for social sites to organize information. Now, they are the defining characteristic of digital campaigns. Hashtags have grown into the logos of campaigns that users can engage with and rally behind. With a hashtag, users can publish their own posts in response to your campaign and also view other users’ posts. Hashtags act as hyperlinks connecting all tagged content and organizing them into one place on a social platform. Hashtags are also allowing users to connect with different audiences at a faster pace.

Hashtags are changing the influencer marketing game because, through a simple tag, your photo or video could end up being viewed by thousands of people. If you use popular hashtags that reflect the days of the week, such as #mondaymotivation or #friyay, or use tags that are viewed often like #streetstyle and #interiordesign, you could instantly increase the reach of your post. That is not to say that this will absolutely happen; using hashtags means that you’re increasing your chances of your content gaining popularity.

Examples of influencer marketing campaigns

There are dozens of influencer marketing campaigns available online for you to look at and gain inspiration from. These campaigns can range from multi-million dollar deals to a couple hundred dollars worth of social posts. Below, we’ve compiled a list of a couple of our favorites that you and your team can dissect and learn from:

Nike and women’s soccer

Nike has long been a sponsor for women’s soccer, but even more so after the USA win at the World Cup this year. Their jersey sales surged 200% when compared with the last tournament four years ago, and its sales of women’s apparel related to the tournament increased by 150%. Needless to say, this is a huge win for Nike and a huge win for the Women’s USA soccer champs as well. These ladies are perfect examples of positive social media influencers.

Nike and Colin Kaepernick

Although Nike has had a great run with influencers and business, there is also a negative side to things. Controversially, Nike included former Quarterback Colin Kaepernick in their Dream Crazy ad. While there were just as many people thrilled to see him on billboards supporting a social cause, there were just as many people who did not want to see him there. Nike saw their shares fall, but did that really matter when the athletic wear company saw a $6 billion increase in sales?

It seems like Nike knew exactly what they were doing. Oh, did I forget to mention that the ad won an Emmy for ‘Outstanding Commercial’ this year? These numbers alone should prove to you why influencer marketing is a game-changer. Bravo, Nike, bravo.

Patrick Starrr and Benefit Cosmetics

On a smaller level, Patrick Starrr, YouTube beauty guru and social influencer, has collaborated with Benefit Cosmetics on multiple occasions. Patrick’s influence has garnered Benefit over 2.4 million views on his Get Your Brows in Shape ad in 2017, and 57K likes on a recent post on Instagram. Social stars like Patrick Starrr keep oldies but goodies relevant.

WahlieTV and HelloFresh

On an even smaller level is Weylie Hoang and boyfriend Wah, who run a vlog channel with 458K subscribers on YouTube. They regularly post home videos, DIYs, and house renovations. Their partnership with HelloFresh has been running for a couple of years now, and their videos show their viewers how they can use the meal-kit company to make ready meals in less than 30 minutes. Their vlog views regularly gain over 150-250K views.

Key Takeaways

Hopefully, this blog post has shown you why social media influencers are important and how influencer marketing can truly impact your business. There’s an influencer for every business at every size —the key is to determine which one is right for your brand and your business goals. Let’s go over the key takeaways one more time:

  • Influencer marketing is when brands select social media powerhouse accounts to market their products and services to their social media following
  • There are different kinds of influencers who can provide your business with different results
    • Photographers are great for brands looking to increase their brand awareness and gain some new content
    • Micro-influencers are for businesses that want to target a specific niche and increase sales there
    • Socially Famous Influencers are used when brands want to stay relevant and make a splash in today’s trends
    • Thought leaders who are practiced in persuasion are great for driving sales
    • Bloggers will help your brand gain more recognition and increase your brand authority
    • Vloggers can help increase your sales with their expanded social followings
    • Working professionals will help increase your authority and recognition through their following and network
  • Hashtags will act as the face of your influencer marketing campaign and extend your content’s reach
  • From award-winning ads to millions of views and hundreds of likes, your social influencers can really make a name for your brand

**About the Author: Therese Palmere is a content writer and consultant for NYC based digital marketing agency Aumcore, which specializes in all things digital. Therese dabbels in social media marketing and writes about everything from web development to emerging marketing trends.