There’s a new style of marketing in town, and it’s called influencer marketing! It’s a woman-dominated industry that rakes in millions of dollars each year with a projected income of 10 billion dollars by the year 2020. Its an evolution of the blogger community that silently manifested into a curious career with everyday social media users interested in what this tech affinity is all about.

Traditional means of marketing consisted of billboards, trade shows, television advertisements, direct mail, email marketing campaigns, telemarketing and more. Then, social media came about where we weren’t told what we should be interested in but given a chance to participate in the conversation. As a result, social media marketing gave consumers direct contact to brands to leave reviews and actively engage in the conversions of product lines, service options, philanthropic activities and more.  You name it, and the consumer now has a stake in controlling its fate through the power of social media. Having worked in social media for the last 10 years in multiple industries including a corporate financial institution, a healthcare company, a medical college, several small businesses and more, I can without a doubt tell you, that even the largest companies with the most massive budgets are having a bemusing time connecting to their consumers. Traditional marketing encountered these same challenges and in turn, used personified stories as marketing strategies.  You might recall Flo from Progressive or Dennis from Allstate or celebrity, Morgan Freeman from Visa.  The usage of each of them was intended to establish a connection to the consumer by creating easily relatable characters.  These influencers each had unique qualities that made us feel like they were members of the local neighborhood watch.  They solidified our trust.  Then, social media gave access to all users to be “equally created consumers.” Consequently, the rise of the everyday influencer which came in the form of your sister, your brother, college roommate, your preacher or someone in your neighborhood or for lack of better words, “Any Ole’ Body.”   Having access to technology to share ideas, routines and more gave many astounding platforms of purpose and therefore, large audiences to disperse.

What’s a blog and why follow a blogger?

I found out what a blog was around 2009. One of my broadcast journalism professors suggested that we create our typical video reels on a website and send it out versus the jaded way (VHS tapes and DVDs).  It was here that I learned how to couple my writing skills with the journalistic techniques of creating a news media package! As a millennial, I’d already been an active user of ALL social media. To keep my “website” up to date and transpiring, I started producing literary works here and there.  I’d say this was when I became a blogger – someone who shares their knowledge, experiences, and opinions of particular subjects with the general public with the sole intent of bringing awareness to it.  I considered myself a journalist at the time just trying to find a job.  My website served as a portfolio of all of my marketing and journalistic activities that I would share with potential employers.  Anything that I wrote, I’d share across my social media platforms and send in individual emails.  I lived by the mantra of getting my work out there by all means necessary.  My blog and others serve as individualistic works that inform and educate placidly intrigued readers, listeners, and watchers.  Believe it or not, blogs are not new features.  The social media platforms and websites we use are the new features as technological advancements.  Before this, there were columns in the newspaper or our favorite magazines.

One in particular that I remember was, Dear Abby.  People would write into her, and she’d respond. You could read it in the newspaper introducing calls for action and conversation on different topics.  Blogs give voices to the voiceless.  They help to rally the troops and break down silos that exist in mainstream news and media by creating a more available method of content sharing.  Also, they’re blogged by someone less than six degrees of separation from you.  The magnitude of being a friend of a friend away from learning from each other is what makes blogging so practical and believable.  We’re sharing in the most creative, experiential ways.

What is an influencer?

The term influencer is a relatively new term that is used to describe someone who has capitalized on the analytical growth of his or her brand.  Many bloggers who’ve put in the energy and time to build their brands have legions of loyal followers willing to partake in their suggestions which makes them influencers.  Many of the most successful influencers have created undeniably talented content that is in some capacity better than that of high dollar public relations firms.  Folks, it is much more than taking cute pictures.  It is serious business for these modern moguls who are paving a path through unknown territory as it hasn’t happened before.  While continuing to write content, they’re taking photos, editing photos, putting together video packages, interviewing subject matters, fact-checking, pitching to brands, engaging in influencer platforms, negotiating deals, supporting other’s in the industry, continuing marketing education, learning recent app updates and so many other tedious, yet rewarding job descriptions.  Ever heard of a one-man band? These action items above are what it is. #BloggerLife #InfluencerLife

I get asked a lot how to work with brands, and this is how.  Hone this skillset of every component above and you can.  Being an influencer is like being an actor in a Broadway play except there aren’t any stagehands or a set crew.  You make way for your story in a noisy, exciting industry.

In the marketing world, return on investment is all anyone truly wants to hear.  For however much money has been spent, there has to be a monetary increase doubling or more for ROI deemed a success.  Traditional marketing efforts have been found to work, but influencer marketing is vastly making its mark as a valid means of advertising.   Companies are partnering with influencers to tap into their audiences and give real accounts of experiences with their brands.  Sales increases show that this methodology is working.  However, as an influencer, the pressure is on to meet the deliverables creatively and monetarily, and when you’re up against fickle social media algorithms or other business challenges, things can get pretty perplexing.

Influencers are bloggers.  Influencers are salesmen.  Influencers are reporters.  Influencers are service providers.  Influencers are talent.  Influencers are mayors and governors of small and extensive social media followings the size of cities.  And just like in a town, they’re trying to come politically correct meeting the expectations of their audience and their partnering companies.  If you’ve ever second-guessed supporting one, you shouldn’t.  This new-age professional is to be accordingly respected as it continues to reshape how we establish and enact the entire marketing hemisphere.



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