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Influencer marketing has rapidly evolved from a "let's try it to see if it works" tactic to an integral part of a marketer's arsenal. Gone are the days when brands partnered only with celebrities to advertise and spread the word about their products and services. Social media has opened the doors to an influx of new influencers, and the options are now more diverse than ever for marketers.

Not all influencers are created equal. The influencer spectrum ranges from the celebrities with millions of followers and professional bloggers with tens of thousands of followers, to the micro-influencers with up to 5,000 followers and everyday social media users.

Though it's natural to want to gravitate toward the mega-celebrities and the famous bloggers and vloggers for marketing campaigns, bigger is not always better.

A large social media following is not an accurate indication of real influence. The true value of influencers lies in the level of trust they have earned from their audience and their ability to drive that audience to take action. And micro-influencers possess those two qualities. It's human-to-human marketing at its best.

In today's hyperconnected world, most consumers now seek these recommendations via social media. They are greatly influenced by the content they see on social networks. In fact, Mintel's 2015 American Lifestyles report found that seven out of 10 Americans have sought out the opinions of others before making purchases. Of those, 72% looked to their social media contacts for recommendations when purchasing goods and services.

A Micro-Influencer at Work: A Brief Example

Your friend who is a personal trainer posts a status update about a new brand of running shoes. You trust her opinion and recommendation about athletic wear because, after all, she trains other people for a living and fitness is her passion. She's not an ad presenting another new product for you to try. There's a personal connection.

You're actually more likely to buy the running shoes that your friend recommended than a pair that is being recommended by a celebrity on social media.

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image of Ismael El-Qudsi

Ismael El-Qudsi is CEO and co-founder of influencer marketplace SocialPubli.com and employee advocacy tool SocialReacher. His digital marketing experience includes roles as head of SEO and social media at Havas and project manager for Microsoft Bing in his native Spain.

Twitter: @elqudsi

LinkedIn: Ismael El-Qudsi