Marketing is about adapting. We constantly adjust the way we sell products and services to attract consumers, because if we stick to the same old ways, we may soon be left in the dust. In 2016, it’s about authenticity. People would much rather purchase something recommended to them by a friend than an advertisement. This is influencer marketing, and it is the future.
How Influencer Marketing Has Evolved
Before the days of social media, influencer marketing meant, simply, celebrity spokespeople. You would watch a television commercial or see a magazine ad with your favorite celebrity telling you to buy a product, and if they love it, you will too, right?
Then, in 2002, LinkedIn launched, followed by Facebook and the mainstream use of personal blogs in 2004. People were starting to accumulate large amounts of followers, and these followers were very loyal. As powerful as celebrities can be, more people were swayed by the recommendations of their friends on social media.
In 2005, Rob Perry launched Xenii, an event-based influencer company that garnered national attention. Not long after, in 2006, Twitter was born and Facebook became available to the masses. At this point, influencer marketing was still strongly synonymous with celebrity endorsements; these endorsements just found their way to social media instead of sticking to traditional media outlets.
Through the young years of social media, it became evident that people were more affected by the suggestions of their friends and idolized Internet personalities than celebrities. This was the proven concept that became the core focus of Xomad, which launched in 2010, about the same time as Instagram. Xomad strategically paired brands with the influencers in their industry, with most campaigns using the impact of at least one hundred influencers.
By 2012, influencer marketing moved away from celebrities. Now, influencer marketing was all about using bloggers and brand ambassadors to sell a service or product. After a few short years, influencer marketing is a go-to tactic, and most campaigns rely on the voices of 50 or so influencers.
We predict that by next year, influencer marketing will evolve once again, with brands turning to a higher number of smaller influencers, helping them spread their word to even more circles.
Why You Need Influencer Marketing
So what has made influencer marketing advance so spectacularly over the past decade and a half? That’s easy: influencers have already done the hard work. They have built trust with their fans, so if they say to use a product or service, their fans believe them. In fact, the ROI of influencer marketing is one of the best there is, with companies averaging a return of $6.50 for every dollar they contribute to influencer marketing. It’s not sales, it’s just word-of-mouth, and it’s working.