The Evolution of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has become a staple of brand marketing strategies because it allows brands and their influencers to engage in more authentic ways with consumers.

At first, this kind of marketing mainly served as a cost-cutting measure, but as Instagram’s and TikTok’s exposure grew, it underwent a revision.


Sponsorship in the context of this video primarily involves influencer marketing, but these terms are sometimes used interchangeably.Influencer marketing is an inactive form of paid advertising where brands team up with influencers in a bid to boost sales and to gain recognition for the brand and their product or service. It’s possible that there is some crossover with word-of-mouth promotion in here, but the person facilitating it is paid in exchange for the endorsement.

Mark Twain might have been a pioneer of influencer marketing. Over his lifetime, he was endorsed by a string of tobacco; then flour brands; and, later, an ever-escalating range of products, from cars to cereal.

With ‘influencer marketing’, they would find the publicity business quickly transforming itself into a kind of affiliate system in which individuals with large, loyal followings on social media such as Instagram and Snapchat, sometimes accumulated for superficial ascetic reasons, wouldplug posts and links on their behalf – and marketers would have, as Elisa Craig also noted, an ‘ideal way to access new markets’.


Macro-influencers typically have 100,000 to 1 Million followers and are brand professionals who produce content with a ‘curated’ online identity that cultivates interest in different demographics and target audiences.

Brand fit can be more seamlessly achieved and earned when brands are introduced by influencers as part of an authentic narrative. Rather than detracting from the story an influencer has been curating for their market, they can simply enrich it. Augmented with products, services, a brand and new people, it still looks and feels like the content the initial (and likely, longest-standing) relationship between the influencer and their audience is based on. Thus this mode of influencer marketing usually results in conversions and skyrocketing brand awareness for businesses that select influencers based on such a criteria – because for these merchants, there is a higher likelihood of the influencer-marketing yield exceeding KPIs (eg, click-through rates of 1 per cent are way above the industry average) needed for an influencers’ premiere to result in a success. Image credit:

Once their persona is established on social media, influencers can easily build credibility and trust, making them a great fit for campaigns that want to reach a big audience right away. For this reason, vloggers are great for leveraging the social-reach and social-engagement data available on social media, whereas if you’re not too concerned about having measurable outcomes, you might benefit more from lifestyle influencers or fashionistas. The point is that you should choose an influencer who is aligned with your strategy and goals.


Micro-influencers, or second-tier content-creators with smaller followings who spread a brand’s message to the same effect, have become more prominent in the past couple of decades. By positioning themselves as a person their fans trust to dispense commodities knowledge, they leveraged their personal brand to endorse what is sold.

Therefore, their influencer marketing investments have been producing realistic ROI for them. Brands can no longer track mere vanity metrics like follower counts or engagement rates to judge the annual success of influencer marketing. They need numbers that provide more specific, actionable insights that answer the question: how do influencer campaigns drive revenue for the business?

Influencer marketing extends well beyond paid postings or video reviews, to enabling devoted consumers to recommend products with the authenticity of trusted friends to a million of their closest comrades. By setting goals, marketers are better informed when choosing influencers – do they want to increase reach and followers or web traffic and conversions on the site?


While brand businesses may be tempted to jump on the influencer marketing bandwagon, this shouldn’t come at the expense of authenticity. Overall, consumers will respond better to influencer endorsements if they feel more relevant and genuine. Influencer-generated content is also easier and quicker to source and produce than studio-shot creative, and it consistently delivers better results in terms of social campaigns.

But, if brands give their influencers something that they value when they enter into a partnership with them, this provides more opportunity for a mutually beneficial collaboration, which will in turn help to build long-term strategic alliances between influencers and brands. This is likely to encourage influencers to become more invested in their content creation, while at the same time increasing the co-dependence, and therefore, the mutuality of bonds between influencers and brands.

If brands aren’t paying attention to value-based measurement by avoiding vanity metrics such as follower counts and retweets, they need to turn to influencer management solutions that provide real insights into how a campaign performs, what value is created for each side on both a campaign and continual basis, and then cease using multiple spreadsheets for discovery and recruitment, contracting, launching a campaign, monitoring its efficacy, and paying the right people the right amount at the right time.

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