What is Influencer Marketing?
nash-7.jpg - What is Influencer Marketing? by popular Indianapolis style blogger Trendy in Indy
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You hear it all the time, but what is influencer marketing?

This week is Trendy Influencer Week. I'll have a different post each night (yes, it's going to be a lot of content), but I think you will find each post filled with valuable information. 

First, let's chat about what is influencer marketing and where it's headed. Then I'll share my history and background on both sides of this industry, as a brand manager and as an influencer myself. 

According to an article from the Huffington Post, "influencer marketing is simply the action of promoting and selling products or services through people (influencers) who have the capacity to have an effect on the character of a brand." Although this isn't a new concept as influencer marketing has been around for years with celebrity endorsements, it is a trend right now and brands are jumping on board.

With the presence of social media, literally everyone has the power to be an influencer at their finger tips. Even if you are not an "influencer," "blogger," or "creative" you have an impact on your followers. 

So what qualities or abilities give someone the power to have the self-title of "influencer"? It seems that everyone has a different opinion on this so I am going to give you my top 5 qualities an influencer should have. 

  1. You can clearly and effectively communicate a story. Whether it's a brand story or your personal story, you have the ability to tell it and captivate an audience. 
  2. You create quality content on multiple platforms. In other words, you are not just Instagram famous. Although Instagram is relevant and prevalent, it should not be your only platform because you are putting all your eggs in Mark Zuckerberg's never ending, sometimes soul-sucking basket. What would happen if Instagram changed the algorithm yet again (PS- this is happening) and your content started showing up less than it does now? 
  3. You understand what it means to provide value through content. You don't just try to sell shit that you don't believe in, wouldn't use on a regular basis, or that you just want the commission on. You can create relatable captions or blog posts and showcase images that have some sense of stylization (is that even a word?). In Jenna Kutcher language, you SERVE BEFORE YOU SELL. 
  4. Your audience follows you for more than pretty pictures. Your followers understand your personal brand, relate to it, engage with you, and you engage back. When you work with a brand, they gain website traffic, followers, brand recognition, new subscribers, and/or hopefully some sales.
  5. You are AUTHENTIC in all caps. In other words, you don't buy followers or do shady things to get them. Your engagement is real and your followers value your honest and authenticity. 

You can check this Forbes article for further details. Although these are not all the qualities an influencer should have, these are the top five I look for as a Brand Manager/Marketing Director which brings me to my next point. 

My History With Influencer Marketing

You're probably wondering what makes me qualified to have an entire week of content dedicated to influencer marketing so here it is.

I studied PR and Advertising for four years at Butler University. I fell in love with the branding side of the industry and how all brands communicate a lifestyle through storytelling, or at least they should.

I've worked as a marketing intern, brand manager, and now marketing director. I do some freelance consultation work, mostly surrounding social media strategy, as well as spending hours each week to learn new trends. As an intern and a brand manager, I implemented two different brand ambassador programs for two different companies. In my position as a brand manager, I started working with influencers before I became one. I learned, a few times the hard way, what works and what doesn't.

The most important thing I've learned? There is not an x + y = z equation that works for every single partnership. These contracts or agreements should be specific to the brand and the influencer based on the desired target audience, desired deliverables, and the desired outcome. 

Why is this relevant in 2018?

Influencer marketing is only going to continue to grow in relevancy. If done correctly, these partnerships offer companies brand representation on a personal level which generates brand loyalty. In other words, more chatter from a real human = more interaction and hopefully sales from other real humans. 

This form of marketing is more measurable than expensive TV placements, magazine ads, or billboards although I would argue that an integrated marketing communication (IMC) approach is critical for any brand. This goes back to a key point: don't put all your eggs in one basket. 

If you don't work with influencers, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Tomorrow I'll be sharing a post specifically for brands and companies who are interested in working with influencers or maybe that already do. I'll be giving helpful tips to create successful influencer partnerships. 

Here's the line up for the week:

  • Monday: Tips for working with influencers for brands and companies
  • Tuesday: Tips for influencers
  • Wednesday: Pinterest- the search engine you are forgetting about
  • Thursday: Why followers unfollow influencers
  • Friday: The pros and cons of being an influencer

I'm excited to share all of this with you guys this week. One thing you can expect from me: complete transparency.

Here's to Trendy Influencer Week!

xo,

Steph