What is an Influencer? And How do they make money?

I got a question the  day after I posted this update about me going independant as an influencer. The question was quite specific: What is an influencer?

I honestly understand now why that question came and I figured it would be good to spread some clarity by writing a blog post about it! However, it’s a pretty big question to answer so in order for me to get all around it, I will divide it into a couple blog posts where I also will highlight how they make money etc. Also, bare in mind that this is my own interpretation about a super diffuse subject that in a way covers everything and yet nothing. Anywho, let’s get to it!

Unless you are in the marketing business, or hang out with other influencers, it can seem a bit weird to call yourself an"influencer". I mean, do you go around all day and influence people? Both yes and no. What many refer to when they say influencer, is an individual that has the ability to influence (change/increase buying behavior) x amount of people on social media. If you break it down, everyone have the ability to be an influencer but you can be in different spectrums of the scale. Most people prefer to divide influencers into three different segments: Micro, Macro and Mega. I also like to add the segment, Stars since other “rules” often applies to them. But maybe we can talk about them some other time. To make this more clear, I like to showcase this as a triangle

 Influencer triangle borrowed from  woomio.com

Influencer triangle borrowed from woomio.com

Mega Influencers
In the top you have the Mega influencers. These guys are the “creme del a creme” in the influencer industry with a follower base starting from +100K followers. They are the thought leaders within their niche and are often getting paid thousands of dollars for a single tweet. They are doing this on a full time basis and more often than not, they have a dedicated agent that only works for them. Mega influencers like chiara ferragni even has a team of +7 people that all work around her and her brand.

Mega influencers I follow: Sincerely Jules, Doyoutravel, Sandra Willer, Ohcouture

Macro Influencers
The Macro Influencers is a bit more fluffy segment. you usually say that these have a follower base from around 10K to 100K. They are taking their social channels serious but it is far from everyone that have it as a fulltime gig. Most macro influencers have in some way or another made sponsored collaborations but it varies a lot how much they charge some does it for free whereas others are able to charge several 100 and even thousands of dollars.

Macro influencers I follow: Wewonder, Leagoeson, Dreaming_outloud, Natelieboesen

Micro Influencers
Micro influencers are the ones you see the most. Usually you say that in order for companies to work with micro influencers, they need to have a least 1K followers, but in my opinion you can be below that - I mean, you have probably experienced yourself to become influenced by your good friend that just showcased her new jacket on Instagram, even though she has 367 followers, right? Lately companies have been super interested in working with micro influencers because it is scientifically proven that they have higher engagement, are cheaper and people find them more trustworthy. On the flip side it can be super hard to find the right micro influencers and manage 100+ influencers for a campaign which is what it would/could take to host a campaign that would reach as many people as a campaign with one Mega influencer.

Micro influencers I follow: Daysofmrgray (my hot boyfriend, yes), Ameliamoelle(my sissy) and probably also some of you guys! 

To finish the triangle, you usually say the mega influencers give you reach (you reach a lot of people because of their big audience) wheras you get a lot of engagement (people interacting with the sponsored content, by comments, likes and even sales) with micro influencers. I nmy opinion you need both the Mega, Macro and Micro influencers in a succesful influencer campaign. 

The way I see it the term “influencer” is that it’s a word that was highly needed in industries like marketing and in the whole blogger world. With the arise of social medias like Instagram, Snapchat, Vine(r.i.p), Pinterest and youtube, the word blogger wasn’t sufficient anymore. Most bloggers started to incorporate all these channels into their social media mix and quickly a lot of bloggers outgrew their blog follower base on these new medias. suddenly maybe Instagram got more important but they still kept their blog, and a natural question was raised: Am I a blogger or an Instagrammer? Or both? - Some smart marketers solved this “problem” simply by calling it "influencers" as, you guessed it, they were influential on all their channels.  

If you think about it, influencers have been around forever. It was the cleopatra in the ancient egypt and it was the 50’s Marilyn Monroe or Britney Spears on MTV that convinced a whole generation that belly button tops that only covered my nipples (preferably in green or bright blue) was the shizzle. I think, that what has been so different in modern days, is that basically everyone have the ability to become influencers on social media. You don’t need to be pretty or smart or good at sports: As long as you are passionate about something and knows how to communicate it to the world, you can become an influencer. So, what I am trying to say is that it sounds a lot fancier than it is and in a way we are all influencers offline or online. 

I hope this article helped some of you guys to better understand why I chose to call myself a fulltime influencer (as corny as it may sound) instead of a fulltime blogger or instagrammer. Stay tuned for the next post in this little mini series series of the business of influencer marketing where I will go into how influencers make their money.