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The Age of the Influencer

 

Andre’ M Hampton

 

Influencers are no longer just those people you know and consider to be close. Those influencers will be around for the rest of your life, hopefully, but they are just the beginning level of influence that can have an effect. Unfortunately, those influencers will eventually have less influence on you than the individuals you follow or come across on social media. The difference is not only the age in which you need those close influencers but also how either influencer, personal or through social media, effects your wallet.

Consider, if you will, the people that you follow on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Some might be friends, family or celebrities. Have you purchased an item or product at the advice of any of these people? Of course you have. If you have your first child you would consider the wisdom and experience of a parent or family member who has also been through raising a child themselves. Naturally, you would go along with the people close to you that you can trust and are ensured would have your best interest in mind. You might consider what Beyoncé uses on her child but someone closer to your financial status might have a less expensive alternative for your budget.

As consumers, we are influenced in many ways by many people, more specifically those we see on social media and television. As business professionals, we fall into the same category but with a slightly different spin. We are influenced by social media specifically in the ways that these influencers effect consumers’ attitudes and buying patterns. Basically, if a business is not following or paying attention to the trend setters, the attention getters and the influencers who have the eyes and ears of the consumers, that business is already behind.

The word influence as defined by Dictionary.com is “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others:”. With the tremendous influence of social media an influencer can come out of nowhere or can be an already established celebrity, stylist, designer, athlete, or blogger. In 2013 Teresa M. Caro and her agency said, “We defined an influencer as someone who: a) has a social media following of 2,500 or more, b) considers themselves to have an influence on their audience, and c) has received or desires to receive compensation from a brand.” Having 2,500 followers is not as big a number as it was a couple years ago. There are apps and quick, yet dishonest, ways to build up followers to reach high numbers. This does not make someone an influencer, it makes them eager to look important in the world of social media.

There are influencers for all industries and fields. But influencers can change and there’s always someone new moving to the top. Some of the more respected opinions could be knocked out by one newbie that’s gone viral on YouTube.The dilemma for a new business is to find the right influencers to help grow their brand. Someone with a high number of followers does not necessarily mean that they are the right person to help that brand. A start up men’s clothing company would not push their brand and products to a stay at home mom that blogs about organic baby foods and other baby products. Aside from researching information, blogs and websites within your industry there are individuals, companies and analytic programs that specialize in finding out the best methods and tools to market your brand.

Most influencers are paid in some fashion which needs to come into consideration of whom you might align with your brand. A lot of start-ups can’t afford to fund an additional person but that’s not a problem as influencers often accept first look or use of new products, freebies, discounts as well as money. If it is affordable, a good fit and good relationship, an influencer should be considered by all brands looking to increase awareness. Once the influencer is found remember that it is a mutually beneficial relationship. You are getting brand awareness and sales while the influencer is getting more followers as they become known as a trendsetting and groundbreaking for bringing new products and brands to the forefront.