In the modern age, people no longer retain control of the purchases they make. Whereas once the things you bought were down to either a specific need or simply personal preference, today’s buying habits are driven by a desire to belong, to fit in and relate with the friends or social group that matches your individual personality. As a consequence, studies show that these groups of friends, family, experts, media outlets and social media influencers provide us with the confidence that we are making the right choices as we conform to the perceived social norms.

This influence is known as Influencer Marketing, and with just about anyone now being able to work with major brands, this now number one form of online marketing is crucial to companies competing in the marketplace.

Influencer marketing has grown substantially year on year, with the trend growing to over $5 billion dollars on social media site Instagram alone. This relationship selling has become so powerful in the purchasing decisions that especially for the newer entrants into the market, they simply cannot ignore the sheer growth prospects on offer when their need for instant presence and credibility can essentially be solved overnight through the use of a recognised face in their space that legitimises them through simple positive association via their inbuilt customer base.

But what makes this kind of marketing so important is the fact that it solves multiple issues through organic traffic, thanks to the fact that they retain a loyal and often fanatical group of potential customers that is also extremely cost effective when considering the price of acquisition.

Three of the key considerations behind effective marketing strategy: Content creation, brand credibility and positive exposure to the target market, whilst difficult to balance from a corporate perspective are actually what makes influencers so successful in their own ventures. Such personal connections through often years of building trust from their consistent posting and hard work makes the messages they send seem genuine and authentic in a way that is almost impossible to replicate by a brand or larger corporation. From platforms such as YouTube, Twitch and Instagram, the ability to create such a unique kind of buzz from exciting content, which is both wanted and appreciated by these people needs to be almost the main focus for any company that wants to grow in this kind of environment.

The opportunity available has never existed to take advantage of this, especially considering that in a rapidly developing world where 46% of marketing now takes place online, this number is likely only the beginning. The strong and unique content that can be created without expenditure, as through a simple sponsorship you are attached to a chosen individual who through a simple promotional advertisement subconsciously aligns the corporate objectives with that of their own. Their content becomes a new form of advertising that can then be used in outside ads, own personal content and even the companies own social media to form a much more comprehensive strategy.

One example of this has been the American YouTuber Jimmy ‘Mr Beast’ Donaldson and browser extension site Honey, whose partnership has allowed the company to become a much bigger household name through sponsorship of selected videos. Due to its ability to heavily integrate itself into this market, it has gained a global reputation and substantial increase in downloads that has now even began to diversify its content to capitalise its own growing internet audience.

Despite this being a significant expenditure, with figures estimated to be around $10000 per video, the average business who may not have a good marketing budget to spend on such endeavours can instead benefit from the community of more common ‘micro’ influencers. These public personalities have a much smaller following of 10 to 200 thousand followers, and therefore are much more attainable due to their prices of partnership being low or even simply for free product. There is no other form of strategy in current business that can offer this kind of cost versus reward balance to businesses that would double or triple overnight from this kind of publicity.

Influencers also rely on this kind of business relationship and so represents a mutual need to be an effective partner, and reduces the possible risks involved. Platforms such as YouTube have in the past revised their systems to limit the amounts their users receive and instead this revenue is as a result of influencer agreements and other advertising-based contracts.

There is however, a serious need for close consideration and assessment before agreeing to such deals. There is significant risk in a partnership with the wrong influencer having the opposite effect and damaging the PR of the brand. Mostly consisting of normal people who simply make money through content, they have to be heavily vetted to ensure there is nothing controversial or offensive that would harm you, or even simply if they held different ideals to what you represent, then the current clients may no longer see a future with your company.

The results and key performance indicators represent one of the most significant arguments as to why this is so important. Being so difficult to measure means that understanding what works and how to make communication more effective is a difficult task. Defining metrics is a key part of influencers, and when agreed is a sign of potential success with unique discount codes and tracking the clicks on a link being a substantial tool that allows clear and concise feedback to maximise potential returns.

Attention online is so difficult to achieve in the current market, with anyone who dares to go online attacked from every angle by the same techniques industries have utilised for a long time. People feel safe with the comfort and reassurance of friendly and familiar guidance from the expert influencers that they regard as real people living real lives, an ideal they resonate much more closely with that a simple brand image. Traditional marketing is losing traction, and exciting delivery that caused a buzz or so called ‘viral’ attention is the key to true engagement within a society that regards personalities and reality TV star as their personal heroes. The current climate shows just how important presence is, and now businesses must adapt to stay relevant by matching the interests of their clients better than their competitors- Influencer Marketing is the key to this achievement.