the rise of influencer marketing

The Rise of Influencer Marketing

In Digital Marketing by Kaomi Team

By a show of hands, who recalls the fascinating 2009 movie The Joneses

In this clever story, an impossibly trendy family set up home in an upscale suburb. But in reality, they are a highly trained team of stealth marketers. As the tale unfolds, we see them subtly promoting desirable clothing, accessories, furniture, and even certain food items to appeal to their neighbours. These are, of course, sponsored products carefully chosen for their target audience.

Sound familiar?

Today it’s called influencer marketing, and it’s a big deal. 

We’re sure you have questions, so let’s discover more about this growing psychological marketing phenomenon.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is, in a nutshell, celebrity endorsement, and it’s not a new concept. However, when applied in a smart digital marketing strategy, it turns into a potent mix of word-of-mouth and trusted endorsement – at scale.

The key reason why influencer marketing has gone from zero to billions in 10 short years is that it taps into the depths of the human psyche. 

Forbes gives us a little more insight saying, “Influencer marketing is effective because it capitalizes on our most natural tendencies, emotions and desires.

“When we dive into the psychological details, we find that natural emotions, fear of missing out, care and relationship-building play out digitally.”


The Joneses highlighted the pack mentality of us human creatures. We are inherently social, and we have an innate desire to be the same, or better, than those we hold in high regard or connect with. 

Conforming to the social norms of our chosen tribe gives us a sense of assurance that we will be accepted in this space. It makes us feel like we’re safe and that we belong. 


More people than ever suffer from feelings of loneliness in such a connected world, which can be frightening and debilitating. Because of this, we reach out to people with whom we feel that we bond, people that we think share our values or beliefs. 

Celebrities and other influencers spend time chatting to their tribe on a personal level. They let them into their lives via Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube and share a piece of themselves. This, in turn, makes their followers feel connected to them, attaching on an emotional level. 

Choices and Control

Psychology Today points to another human factor that comes into play here, that of choice and control. They say, “Even though it’s not necessarily true, we equate having choices with having control. Our survival instincts tell us that we’ll survive if we have control.”

On social channels, we have complete control over who we follow and what content we consume. This is our choice, and it makes us feel empowered, subsequently attributing value to the people or brands that we advocate.

These are just some of the many reasons we reach out and connect with friendly, trendy, smart influencers. 

What Is an Influencer?

We automatically think of ‘brands’ like the Kardashians when we talk of influencers, and they certainly have led the charge when it comes to influencer marketing. However, it’s good to remember that many influencers are not world-famous. 

Rather they are ordinary people who can affect the decisions of a group of people based on their knowledge or their relationship with their followers. A successful influencer may not have millions of followers, but they may actively engage a collection of people in a highly targeted niche. 

When you look hard enough, each industry will have a set of influencers. This may be a bespectacled, socially awkward cybersecurity guru in a hoodie, or it could be a super-fit mother of four who knows exactly how to lift the butts of anyone over 40.  

What’s the Difference Between a Celebrity and an Online Influencer?

Pediaa gives us a concise answer to this question. 

“A celebrity is someone who is famous, especially in areas of entertainment such as films, sport, music, or writing. In contrast, an influencer is a person who has the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending them on social media.”

There exist various categories of influencers, from the mega-influencers with upwards of 1 million followers down to nano-influencers who operate in a highly specialised niche with less than 1000 followers. 

What Does an Influencer Marketer Do?

Influencers satisfy many of our basic human needs, albeit in a digital manner. Successful marketing is based on satisfying our audience’s desires and giving them what they need. Merging these two elements ethically and logically has proven successful for many brands.

Influencer marketing involves the collaboration between a business and an online influencer to market one of its products or services. This can be in the form of an obvious promotion where the influencer will talk to their followers about the product or subtly use it or refer to it during one of their videos.

Influencer Marketing Strategy

The key thing to remember when considering an influencer marketing strategy is that you’re dealing with human beings. Your approach is not the same as simply running a Google Ads campaign to get leads. 

Considerations for an Influencer Marketing Plan

Below are some ideas on what not to do, and some important elements to consider. 

  • Influencers, for the most part, are protective and respectful of their followers. They are deeply aware that trust and honesty are integral to maintaining their relationship with their people.

If you barrel in with terms and conditions and attempt to impose your opinions and practices on them, they can very easily leave the conversation… with their followers. 

  • The best influencer for your product or service may not have the biggest tribe. However, they will have a good reputation in their field and be the go-to person for the exact audience you are targeting. 

Decide what direction you would like to take and spend time finding the right person with the right tone. 

  • One of the reasons influencers are so successful is because they treat their followers as individuals, as humans. If they agree to work with you then allow them to guide you on what they know their audience likes and how they prefer to consume information. 

Being intimately connected with the people that make up their crowd gives them a unique insight that bigger businesses just don’t have.

  • Don’t expect overnight results. As mentioned earlier, working with an influencer on social media is more about building your brand with your ideal audience. This takes time and patience.

Just as you would put in place a sustainable plan for your content marketing and carefully set up a social media calendar, so you would work closely with your chosen influencer for long-term gain. You’re aiming for credibility and authority in your industry.

Benefits of Influencer Marketing

When done right, your business will gain access to the influencer’s audience which should also be your ideal audience. If your chosen influencer buys into your brand and culture, they act as a magnet for your product or service, highlighting the benefits to those people that matter the most. And the best part is, they do it without ‘selling’. 

Influencer marketing works because it takes the form of a natural conversation between connected people. There is no obligation, but there is trust. Your brand can leverage the existing authority of someone who can quickly affect thousands of people’s opinions.

It’s no secret that self-promotion is dying, TV ads are skipped, intrusive ads are blocked, and we simply change the channel if the radio station is too ad-heavy. 

Influencers offer a more nuanced form of promotion, being gentler and more palatable. 

How Effective Is Influencer Marketing?

The stats tell us that 80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective. 71% of them rate the quality of customers from this source as better than that of other channels. 89% say that the ROI is as good, or better than from other mediums. 

Here’s what else we know.

  • Google searches for the term ‘influencer marketing’ grew over 1500% in just three years. (Source)
  • Only 1% of Millennials trust products displayed in ads. (Source)
  • Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation in the U.S. making them a valuable demographic. (Source)
  • Selena Gomez tops the influencer earnings chart at $500,000 per post and has partnered with brands such as Pantene, Puma, and Procter & Gamble. Successful companies indeed. (Source)
  • 2019 stats tell us that around 25% of all internet users use an ad blocker, and this number is expected to grow. (Source)
  • Ad blockers are most popular within the 18–24-year-old age bracket, with 47% currently making use of them. (Source)

These few pertinent statistics clearly show us that we are all tired of ads and bored of being sold to. However, if we choose to engage with a personality, then we’re more likely to listen to what they say and respect their opinions on certain products. 

This makes influencer marketing a highly effective tool, and one worth investigating. 

How Do You Measure Influencer Marketing?

Unless you’ve launched a campaign directly marketing a single product, it can be tricky to track your influencer marketing efforts’ efficacy. 

In fact, brand awareness (which is essentially what influencer marketing is) can be a long road. Companies may not know how extensive their campaigns reach is until social channels start to grow, sales increase, and endorsements multiply.

Therefore, trying to measure this channel’s success through spend versus sales may not be the best idea. 

If influencer marketing’s real value lies in brand awareness, then it’s probably a better option to start measuring further up the sales funnel. Some businesses measure the success of their influencer campaigns by tracking engagement. 

This measurement is a simple one: you divide your total spend on the number of engagements (likes, shares, comments) which gives you a cost per engagement (CPE).

Another option would be to make use of dedicated codes or coupons which link up to online products. That allows marketers to track sales based on codes and use the total sales versus the promotional spend as the ROI.

Google Analytics

Whatever you choose, be sure to keep a close eye on your Google Analytics statistics. This vital information will reveal several valuable points. 

Target Demographics

Who is visiting your website? If your influencer is in the right niche then it will follow that you will see an increase in the right age, location, or gender. 


Did your website traffic spike during and after the influencer campaign? Even if you didn’t see a lot of revenue, if your traffic was up, you’re doing something right.


eCommerce stores will be looking for sales. If you have set up your campaign using UTMs and can accurately track sales, then you can monitor the ROI of your influencer marketing campaign.

In Conclusion

Influencer marketing occupies that undefined space between an official testimonial from a well-respected person and a passing nod to a preferred product. 

Companies have cottoned on to the fact that a word from an influencer is better received than an ad for many of today’s consumers. They also note that using influencers supplies smart businesses with a prequalified, segmented audience and a trusted voice to speak through.

No matter your industry, product, or service, you are likely to find the right person to speak on your behalf with the massive growth in influencer marketing. We think this is worth exploring.

Chat with our team if you’d like to know more.