Influencer marketing, which targets influential individuals to drive a brand’s message home and reach stakeholders, is frequently used in conjunction with social media and content marketing. But it has increasingly become a critical component of today’s most notable marketing and branding strategies.  While it is often referred to as a “hot new area,” focusing on influential individuals is nothing new. In fact, marketers have long utilized these tactics in the form of word-of-mouth and testimonial marketing.  Yet, despite its proven track record, apprehension may still exist.

Below are the top three influencer marketing misconceptions we’ve heard and how to counter them:

Celebrity Driven

While many influencer campaigns do work with celebrities, there is a common misconception that influencer marketing only involves a social media celebrity toting designer goods. The reality is that an influencer is anyone who can shape and guide a conversation.  Informed industry leaders, who have credible and discernible voices and whose opinions are well-respected within their networks, make excellent partners in influencer campaigns. Businesses must effectively utilize this select group’s ability to bridge the gap between user-generated content and professionally curated content. When used effectively, audiences tend to listen.

Online Presence

There is a misheld belief that influencers only live online. Influencers exist in the real world as well –  all that is required is that they have a platform on which to spread their message. For example, at a business conference, keynote speakers can be identified as influencers. The main difference between online and offline influencers is the size and scope of their reach, as well as the way their “success” is measured.  Online, analytics and quantifiable data provide hard proof that an influencer is bringing in results, whether it be via click-through to a website or engagement on social media. In real life, impressions are not as easily tracked, however, they may be longer lasting, more impactful, and lead to loyalty. When done effectively, influencers can build interpersonal relationships with consumers and improve brand sentiment.

Rogue Players

Influencers are invaluable. They can engage their community by authentically spreading ideas through original content. However, with the generation of “original content,” there is the concern that your influencer could go “rogue” or post content that does not mirror the tone or spirit of your organization. Therefore, the most valuable and trusted resources are those who already follow and engage with your brand. Mindfully selecting your influencers is a critical component of building a successful campaign.

Once you understand and see the potential value of influencer marketing campaigns, it is hard to dismiss them. Influencer marketing has taken over from word-of-mouth and testimonial marketing. It provides a new, often affordable and practical way of targeting audiences and conveying a sense of credibility that spans platforms. In a professional environment, influencers offer both a sense of humanity while maintaining an authoritative voice. A combination that is hard to come by.  

Influencers come in many shapes and sizes. They are the business leaders speaking at esteemed conferences, the journalists with well-respected voices, the culinary mavens and the street artists. And, when utilized correctly, they are the ultimate game-changers for the way people view your brand and drive your business performance.