Influencer Marketing

August 28, 2017

What is an “Influencer” Anyway?


Wow. That might be up there with the geekiest thing I’ve ever said. But after writing last week about press events (shudder, seriously my least favorite topic when it comes to things PR-related) I still get a ton of questions about influencers in general.

Let me start off by saying that if you’re coming from Reddit, you’ve heard this all before in the posts that I do over there. To the people who AREN’T from Reddit, man you’re missing out. There are a few subs over there where I dole out free PR advice like it’s my job, so get to it. Highly recommend /r/Entrepreneur and /r/BeautyGuruChatter. Ya welcome.

Anyway, like I was saying. People are HOT on the topic of influencers.

What is an influencer?

How can I be an influencer?

Influencers make HOW MUCH?!?!?!

And it’s for a good reason. Influencers have quickly become the best way to reach a larger audience at nominal cost, so long as you work with influencers in an earned capacity to start.

First though, let’s cover some basics:

What is earned influencer relations? It’s when you (as a brand/person/entity/whatever) reach out to influencers on a personal basis and ask them to test out your product for free in hopes that they love it so much that they share it on their social channels.

What is paid influencer relations? It’s when you (as a brand/person/entity/whatever) PAYS influencers to talk about your product and share it with their audience. Basically, an advertisement. But I hate that word, so don’t use it when talking about influencers.

Why is one better than the other? Well, I recommend that all brands start out in an earned capacity. Most brands that are start-up don’t have money to funnel to influencers when they’re just getting off the ground but can typically spare products to send out and just eat the cost of shipping. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s a start!

Then, I recommend that brands shift to paid relations once they have established working relationships with influencers that organically know and love your product. Why? Contrary to popular belief from my influencer friends, it’s not to screw the influencer out of money. It’s to protect the integrity of the brand in question. NEVER pay for a paid post if the influencer has never spoken about your product to their followers before. That’s a recipe for disaster. The consumer is SMART, they know when something is just a paid advertisement…you want the influencer to be able to speak to the product in an organic, loving way. That converts sales. That is money well-spent from a brand perspective.

Now that the boring basics are out of the way, let’s address the main question at hand.

What is an influencer, anyway?

An influencer (phrase used interchangeably with “content creator”) is a person who has built a credible social following of engaged subscribers/ followers on any or all social media platforms. Notice I didn’t say it’s a person with X number of followers on X platform.


Because influencers are no longer just a game of picking people with the highest number of followers. People buy fake followers all the time. That ain’t special. What is special?


What is engagement? It’s the number of likes and comments an influencer gets on their shit. Who cares if a picture on Instagram is posted to an account with 200K followers? That doesn’t mean that all 200K actually saw the picture!! I want people to be TALKING about the picture, and the content that’s within the picture. That’s what converts to sales.

And let’s be real, the whole reason you’re looking to work with influencers is to a) help drive brand awareness and to b) help drive sales.

Okay, so now we know what an influencer is…the next question you have is probably how to identify a LEGIT influencer that doesn’t buy fake followers.

Enter: FameAudit

The best website since sliced bread! This site allows you to put the handle of any influencer into a super simple interface that scans their followers and analyzes how many of their followers are legit to quit versus bots.

They even have a little breakdown of benchmarks to reference, in case you have any question about the results! Check it:

And there ya have it. The down & dirty on influencers. I’m sure the next questions coming are how to identify influencers that are a good fit for your brand, how to become an influencer and people actually get paid for posting on social media? And the answer to both are worth posts on their own.

Also- if this stuff really interests you, GO AND ‘LIKE’ the Beyond the Branding podcast Facebook page! The podcast is launching on 9.5.17 and will be totally influencer-focused!!

Hit me with your questions fam!



  1. Up Your Insta-Game: Branding 101 - Victoria Sneden

    September 1st, 2017 at 8:06 am

    […] so in the past few weeks we’ve talked about what PR actually is, what an influencer is, and how to work with them effectively. All super valuable topics for brands both big AND small, […]

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