Influencer marketing 101 for brands

Influencer marketing. It’s one of the hottest buzzwords in business right now—but what does it really mean? And how should your brand get involved? Let’s take a quick look at where influencer marketing began, how it’s evolved recently, and how you can get started.

What influencer marketing means

In a nutshell, influencer marketing means identifying specific individuals who have a lot of sway over consumer perception and purchase decisions, then partnering with them to promote brands, products, or services. The idea of selling products by partnering with people who influence popular culture is nothing new. It dates as far back as the 1760s, when the Wedgwood pottery company used images of royalty to help sell their products.

As each new medium has come along—radio, film, TV, and now the internet and social media—it has produced its own influencers. And brands have caught up every time.

In the late 1890s, Mark Twain’s image was used to sell tobacco.

With the advent of blogs in the late 1990s and UGC video platforms like YouTube in the early 2000s, influencer marketing has shifted focus from a relatively small pool of mass-market celebrities to a new kind of crowdsourced celebrity: digital creators who are driven to the top not by industry executives, labels, and agents, but by the audience community itself.

A great recent campaign from Devin Super Tramp and Speed Stick.

Along the way, influencer marketing has morphed from a traditional, one-way broadcast medium to an ongoing participatory conversation that puts audiences front and center in actual content creation. This shift is especially marked among millennial and postmillennial audiences, who spend more than 30% of their media consumption time with peer-generated content.

Source: Nielsen Shifts in Viewing: The Cross Platform Report Q4 2014, March 2015

Three rules of the road for influencer campaigns

Now that you have a sense of just how influential this new breed of creator can be, here are some things to keep in mind when engaging an influencer for a campaign:

  1. Trust your influencers. Most influencers aren’t actors, but they’ve crafted and perfected their own authentic voice to an audience they’re invested in and know extremely well. They have a deep understanding of what will and won’t be engaging—and it’s not usually a voiceover with overt marketing copy.
  2. Understand the platform. A creator might be on Instagram, Vine, and Periscope, but her format might work best on one in particular. So consider who your audience is and which platforms they use most. Then choose influencers based on their engagement and size of audience on your target platforms, as well as topic-specific expertise.
  3. Look for a perfect fit. When you work with a creator, find out what he’s passionate about to see whether your brand is a natural fit. If an influencer genuinely likes your product or service, both you and audiences will know, since the content will feel like something organic that you both created.

The good news: Fullscreen can help! Stay tuned for more influencer marketing strategies coming soon on our blog. And for a free list of influencers that align with your brand and audience, contact Good luck!