Influencer definition

In today’s digital age, it’s beginning to feel like everyone’s an influencer. And in some ways, that’s true. Everyone has the power to influence others' decisions in some shape or form. But in the world of social media marketing, what really defines an influencer? And why are they such a big deal?

What is an influencer?

Influencers are digital savvy online creators who produce and share aspirational and highly engaging content around a certain niche.

In categories ranging from beauty and fashion to travel and lifestyle, influencers build dedicated audiences that follow their account for inspiration, information, or even simply a good laugh! Influencer posts blend seamlessly into their audience’s news feeds – alongside people they know in real life – emphasizing the feeling of a genuine relationship between an influencer and their audience.

Not surprisingly, this kind of highly engaged audience is gold dust for brands. Not only can they tap into a follower base that matches their ideal target audience, but they can also benefit from the high degree of trust that exists between an influencer and their followers.

Through influencer marketing, brands can harness this trust to achieve a variety of marketing goals. From brand awareness to sales to engagement, influencer posts are incredibly effective for three main reasons:

  • Their audiences are listening. Influencers spend a lot of time engaging with their audiences to build trust, credibility and a sense of community. This results in a follower base which is invested in new content from their favorite influencers, and much more likely to listen to and act on their recommendations. 
  • Influencers act as a powerful form of social proof for brands. Due to the high level of authority influencers have built around a certain topic, their endorsement is viewed as highly credible, much like a slew of great reviews online.
  • Consumers look to influencers to be inspired. Research suggests that nearly half of consumers depend on influencers for product recommendations and insights – showing the power influencers have come to hold when it comes to consumer purchase.

Types of influencers

Contrary to popular belief, influencers with the highest number of followers aren’t necessarily the most effective for influencer marketing. More important metrics include engagement rate, something that’s typically higher in smaller accounts. In general, influencers can be split into five main categories, which we’ve summarized below:

Nano-Influencer → 5,000 – 20,000 followers

Micro-Influencer → 20,000 – 60,000 followers

Mid-tier-Influencers → 60,000 – 200,000 followers

Macro-Influencers → 200,000 – 1,000,000 followers

Mega-Influencers → 1,000,000+

The influencers you choose depends on a variety of factors, including your influencer marketing goals and budget. For guidance, check out our complete guide to getting started with influencer marketing.