What Is An Influencer?

Sep, 2023

In today’s digital era, a new type of celebrity has emerged in the world. Chances are you’ve heard the term “Influencer” used in the news, media, or as you’re scrolling through TikTok. This term is an outcome of today’s ‘digital age’ as we always talk about. Influencers have risen to fame after finding platforms where a simple video, photo, or brand deal can gain them thousands of millions of followers. But, what exactly is an influencer? What makes them so popular? Can anyone become one?

We are going explore the many questions we have about the life of becoming, learning, and working as an influencer. If you’re wanting to learn more about the topic from an actual influencer, listen to our podcast episode What Is An Influencer w/ Guest Mary Clark. See more content by Mary here!

What Does ‘Influencer’ Mean?

An influencer is an individual who has an online presence, mainly on social media like TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, or online blogs. There are many different ‘tiers’ of influencers (nano, micro, macro…) who all have their own sized followings, usually in a certain niche that they like to make content about. Some of these niches can include clothing reviews, beauty tutorials, fitness tips, travel vlogs, or even day in the life of their pet. Their influence stems usually from their ability to give knowledge on the topic and connect with their audiences, inspiring them to buy or do something after seeing their content online. 

When Did Influencing Become A Thing? 

The actual concept of influencing is not new, celebrities have had the power over people to drive trends before social media was widely accessible. Certain clothes or styles became popular through seeing them in the newspaper, TV shows, or new movies. With the digital landscape growing quickly, the rise of social media has taken this concept and accelerated it. Trends go in and out quickly, and everyone on social media seems to follow trends and influencers closely.

When you look back, around 2010 is when influencers really came about. This is when YouTube and Instagram stars began to bloom and the world began to have cell phones and social media regularly. Individuals being able to put out content on their own about whatever they want to give a new meaning to influencing. Connecting and gaining thousands (even millions) of followers online took away the need to be a TV  or movie star to have influence. 

Why Do People Follow Influencers? 

I am sure most of you can stop and think about who your favorite YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram personality is. But… why? Why do we follow, watch, and interact with their content? The appeal of our favorite influencers can mainly be explained by authenticity. We are relating to their lives or what they are talking about and even feel close to them because of this. The raw and real content that most influencers put out gives us as followers a sense of connection, leading us to want to read, watch, or buy the things that they do.

Besides being relatable, we also follow influencers because of the information they put out. Their content can inform us about a product, give us tips about a vacation spot or show us where to get the best deals when grocery shopping. No matter why you follow your favorite influencers they are giving you entertainment, information, or content that inspires you to want to keep consuming their content. 

What Is A Brand Deal? 

Most influencers make their money through partnerships with products or services called brand deals. Brands have used and identified these partnerships with influencers as more effective to reach their target markets, rather than traditional advertising. Influencer marketing and partnerships have become a multi-million dollar industry, involving brands of all sizes working with different tiers of influencers to each gain something out of the deal.

Think of it like this… Your friend is showing you this awesome new product that they got, and they love it, in fact, they want you to get it too because it is so awesome! This is how influencer marketing works. Because you have some sort of trust and connection built with your favorite influencers, they are more likely to sell you something than if you just see a normal advertisement in your feed. 

Can I Be An Influencer?

Anyone can be an influencer because of today’s digital world. You must simply pick a niche or passion that you like to talk about and want to inform others about and run with it. Posting consistent content is one of the most important pieces of becoming an influencer and getting your ‘big break’. Being consistent with your content can mean following trends and seeing what is currently going viral. It only takes one viral video or series to blow up and bring you thousands of new followers.

Engaging with this new audience and keeping the content going is where you can build a stream of brands starting to reach out. You begin to build your brand and keep growing as you stay consistent and authentic to your audience. 

Influencers have transformed the world of media and marketing, creating a new career that thrives off of social media. Influencers aim to share their lives, shape trends, give opinions, and connect with their viewers to create a sort of community in that niche. Becoming an influencer is not a far reach as long as you are authentic, consistent, and want to keep growing on your content as you evolve. Influencing offers a personal connection with consumers that has never existed in the marketing world, and it will continue to grow as new trends & media come to light. 

If you haven’t had the chance, we suggest listening to our podcast with Iowa influencer, Mary Clark. She joins us to share her journey to becoming an influencer and how she describes influencing.