Who are we influenced by?

This week I wanted to focus on what influencer marketing is, how companies choose influencers, what an “ask” sounds like, and how influencers have changed the marketing game.

What is Influencer Marketing?

By a basic Google search, Influencer marketing is defined as “a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole.” Influencer marketing is used in social media mostly with a large push of content. Companies want these influencers to show how they use the products in their daily life.

@takubeats has 237k followers on Instagram and recently posted in PUMA shoes and Mercedes-Benz cars. @takubeats has a specific style to their Instagram where they only post grids


For PUMA @takubeats did a set of 3 cinemographs (where it looks like a picture but one thing moves). When hiring an influencer, a company usually wants the influencer’s personal style to show through in their imagine. This makes the content look less like advertisements as seen below. (Here are the links to each individual post: 1, 2, 3)screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-11-11-53-pm

Using influencer marketing is a great strategy for a company who is trying to gain a different kind of following for their social channels. Now instead of their product only being posted on their own channels for their few million views, they have access to thousands and millions more through influencers.

In an article in the Social Times called 10 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing is the Next Big Thing, they identify why influencer marketing is supposedly becoming a larger focus for companies. Largely, consumers now turn to popular people they trust on social channels whether a style blogger or makeup vlogger, consumers value their opinions more than those of a company. The Influencer acts as the persona that actually connects the company to the consumer on a more personal level and the purchase of products are perceived more of a lifestyle choice rather than an exchange of money for a product.

This is Logan Paul, a popular vlogger and vine personality who happens to be eating lots of Doritos in this Youtube video. The Doritos logo has a clear plug at 0:25.

I am curious about how much he is paid for this video because he claims that he is worth “three times the amount he is getting paid” in a 60 minutes segment, The Influencers. This 60 minutes segment was actually posted 2 days ago (October 23, 2016) which is ironic due to the fact I only found this halfway through writing my blog – the trend of Influencer marketing is large right now.

How Companies and Influencers Partner Up

The process of choosing influencers can be done in two ways; a company can search for people themselves or use an influencer agency. When brands search for influencers themselves, they look for people who already use their products and tag the brands. They can also look for social media presences with the lifestyle they want to portray. When a company finds influencers this way they do not have to pay commission to a middle company and they can contract the influencers individually and completely by their company’s preference. On the other hand, a company may use companies such as Instabrand, Captiv8, Fohr Card, and many others. Brands do not usually choose one and stick with that company. Typically they are in contact with multiple Influencer agencies at a time and ask for proposals, influencer examples, and cost estimates from each. Each campaign run by a brand could use a different Influencer agency based on what they are looking for. Each Influencer agency tries to have something special to pitch to their clients, for example, Captiv8 is very data heavy and chooses influencers based on statistical analysis. Instabrand has the largest network of Influencers that possess a variety in number of followers, countries they can reach, and pricing. Influencer agencies are the middle man between a brand and the influencers, even though they cost money they opportunity cost to save time and energy is usually worth it.middleman.gif

Once a brand chooses their Influencer agency they move to the specific influencers. Usually ,the brand tells the agency the type of influencers they are looking for with follower count, style of content, and geographical reach all within their proposed budget. The Influencer agency returns with a list of potential influencers and examples of their content for the brand to thumb through. Some conflicts include the use or contract with competing brands or timing for a specific shoot.

Next, the brand presents the influencers (or through an Influencer agency) with the “ask.” This is where the brand lays out exactly they want the influence to do – how they want their product displayed, what brands are allowed to be present, how or what they want the copy to be. The assets are contracted to be used by the influencer, the company, or both. Some photos taken by an influencer may never see the influencer’s own channel and could be solely published on company channels and vice versa.The company may specify what hashtags must be used and what must be avoided (like no #sponsored or #ad). They can also ask they the Influencer does not get into a contract with a competing brand for a few months after.

Influencer marketing is very flexible which works well for the personalization of the products. Especially with fewer to no commercials on streaming websites and ad blocking, marketers have become more creative in the ways they get their products out to the public. Also, on social media websites, people are more likely to follow Instagram stars than brands and that is where there is value in matching a person to a product. Forbes thinks there is an Influencer Gold Rush coming and wants to know if we’re ready. Who knows. The ad world may be completely virtual by the time influencer marketing hits its peak. That is the excitement with the social world – it’s always changing!


  1. cattybradley · ·

    Interesting post. I liked your point about how much influencers are getting paid – I am curious too. If this strategy is so effective yet relatively inexpensive compared to traditional advertising, I wonder what companies typically pay. I think I definitely follow some accounts who have turned into “influencers,” and for that reason also unfollowed. It may just be my personal experience but some influencers push a company/product too much that I find it annoying. Influencers definitely have to strike a balance and work with companies who are a good fit for their media platforms.

  2. polmankevin · ·

    Awesome post. It’s incredibly interesting to see how marketing is adjusting to the new social trends. The marketing industry seems to be early adopters of new technology and thrive with a ‘live and learn’ mentality where they experiment and learn from their mistakes. I am fascinated by the idea of influencer marketing. It’s crazy to think that people have the ability to make a living simply by endorsing products on social media. Obviously this idea isn’t marvel, celebrity endorsements have been around forever. However, most of the influencers being utilized on social media, specifically Instagram, aren’t ‘real-life’ celebrities. They are insta-famous. They generated millions of followers by posting funny and engaging content and are now cashing out on this fame with endorsements. Similarly, agencies are cashing out on this fame as well by sourcing these influencers to marketing firms. In my opinion, the biggest factor in choosing an influencer is finding someone whose personal brand firs the brand of the product or company being advertised. Instagram influencers take their brand just as seriously – if not more seriously – than actual companies. Very fascinating niche market.

  3. Tyler O'Neill · ·

    Great post Maria! I know that we have briefly talked about influencers in class, but it’s interesting to get the background info on how these partnerships our forged. I think the future of influencer marketing is promising, but I worry about the transparency of influencers. Influencers should be able to partner with brands, but they shouldn’t be restricted to not using #sponsored or #ad. It’s important that consumers know that influencers may be biased in their posts. This new style of marketing seems like it will be extremely successful from the perspective of companies though.

  4. katieInc_ · ·

    Awesome post! I think using influencers is a strategic way for businesses to market their products. Businesses are able to capture the pre-established trust between account user and follower because the process of establishing this relationship is entirely opt-in from the follower. We, the followers, have actively chosen to add X account to our social media newsfeed (i.e. Twitter or Instagram). In doing so, we willingly have accepted to view the content they decide to publish. This allows companies to then judge whether or not the account user’s following is similar to their target audience, and ultimately decide whether or not to use them as an influencer. I think it’s a great way to continue advertising and promoting certain products, but companies and account users must guard against losing the authenticity of social content and the resultant followers’ trust.

    I personally notice this marketing tactic most with health and wellness accounts who market various organic food products in the hopes of increasing brand awareness and/or the likelihood that the account followers will purchase the product.

  5. Interesting post!i Like the narrow angle you took on influencer marketing. I was very surprised to see how expensive it is relative to typical marketing. Which begs the question is it really worth it? Now that I think about it, I think I am influenced by this sort of marketing everyday. Cookies on computer and phone have target specific marketing campaigns my way without my direct knowledge, knowing that the chance that it intrigues me is higher than a random ad. I find this tailored and persistent marketing both effective and a times overwhelming. However, I do in fact see the value it brings. I also find this marking across several industries such as, health and wellness, retail, service, ect… Good read!

  6. adamsmea89 · ·

    This was an interesting post! I did not realize that the “influencer” market was so structured, and that there were incluencer agency’s. You always see people with famous instagram accounts showing off specific brands, but I did not know that brands were looking to market that way almost more than traditional ads. This is a huge change in that industry. It does make sense that a customer is more likely to believe an “unbiased” instagram account rather than the company selling the product. It feels like a testimonial that you can trust, even though that person is getting paid a lot of money to post that picture. It will be interesting to see where this goes, because if too many influencers exist, people may get annoyed or they may stop believing they are truthful.

  7. Ha! Interesting that you picked this topic right after Lindsay said last week that she was “so over” influencer marketing and was ready for it to go away! :) Nice post, though.

    1. dabettervetter · ·

      I think she’s over it because it can be so complicated! It takes a lot of time and energy!

  8. Aditya Murali · ·

    Really cool post!! This form of marketing to me seems the most genuine, and has such huge potential for creativity. What I like most about influencer marketing is that you get to see the product in a way that fits into the life of your favorite internet star or celebrity. This immediately give you an extra connection to the brand, because you already have this connection to the celebrity. I have seen so many cool collaborations between companies and internet stars, and I am excited to see what happens in the future!

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