What is a Social Influencer? How to Leverage Influencer Marketing

Social influencer companies, micro influencers, and everything in between

Social influencer marketing can be an inexpensive way to increase brand awareness, social media interaction and website exposure in a short period of time. In this article, we’ll dive into the nitty gritty of influencer marketing and cover the following topics:


  • What types of businesses can benefit from influencer marketing

  • How can influencers and reviewers help your business

  • Types of influencers

  • How to find the right influencers

  • How to track your influencers and metrics

First, let’s give a little history on influencer marketing.

(Influencer marketing dates back as early as the 1700s. To keep it relevant, let’s stay within the last 100 years, shall we?)

In the early-to-mid 19th century, companies started using fictional characters to target the emotional response of consumers. These were our first true influencers. (Want an example? Think of Tony the Tiger or the Geico Lizard.) As the century went on and industry expanded, more and more brands entered the market. With so much competition, companies needed a different way to connect with their consumers. Enter: famous people. Brands switched to utilizing illustrious limelighters to persuade and influence buying decisions. These celebrity-centered ads pervaded consumers’ lives via billboards, newspapers and televisions. This type of advertising is still used today.


More recently, these ‘idols’ and influencers have moved to the digital realm – sometimes existing solely on social media. Influencers are no longer just famous people like Hollywood movie stars, pro athletes, and internationally renowned singers. Now the term influencer also includes self-made social media stars: people who found a niche in reviewing products; modeling fashion; preparing food; making funny videos and curating photos of dogs. You name it – if there’s a market for it, there are social media influencers talking all about it.

Businesses that can benefit from influencer marketing

The best thing about influencer marketing is finding the influencer who’s target audience matches yours. Data shows that millenials and Gen Z find social media influencers more authentic than bigtime celebrities. This means they’re more likely to make purchasing decisions based on influencer reviews.

Influencer marketing is constantly changing – making it a fun but tricky field to navigate. That being said, the idea of advertising with influential sources doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. So, can your company benefit?

When to use influencer marketing:

  • You offer consumer-facing products or services

  • You own a local restaurant or establishment

  • You want to connect with your customers

  • There are social media pages or channels related to your offerings

How influencer marketing can help your business

There are tons of ways influencers can help you reach your marketing goals.

  • Boost awareness – Gain exposure on social channels and increase follows/likes.

  • Build trust – “They tried it and liked it.”

  • Collect positive reviews –  On important platforms including Facebook and Google Reviews.

  • Gain backlinks – Raise existing keyword rankings by improving your site’s credibility, both in the eyes of users and Google. (See how to track your backlinks with Majestic.)

  • Receive feedback – if you’re launching a new product, having real people review it is a great way to see if your packaging, copy, etc make sense and is related to your target audience.

  • Increase online content  – Many social media influencers produce creative photography and editorial content, approaching your products from a new angle. We all know coming up with new creative content can be exhausting and expensive. Ask the influencer if they’re willing to create content that you can also share on your social channels, email campaigns and even advertisements. (Try this with influencers who have a smaller following.)

  • Get more sales! Increased awareness, positive reviews, and honest feedback means more people are likely to get on board with your product or service.

What types of social influencers are there?

We’ve broken down influencers into four main categories to help you decipher what types make the most sense for your business.

Mega-Influencer: Incredibly famous influencers that have over 1 million (some closer to 140+M) followers on social media. Think Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, and Cristiano Ronaldo. These people have insane international influence and reach a huge online audience every minute of everyday. Unless you’re Coca-cola or Nike, you probably can’t afford to work with these folks. (Sorry.)


Macro-Influencer: Less-but-still-very famous artists, musicians, actors and other TV personalities that fall between the 100K and 1M range. Some made their fame via the internet through YouTube videos or successful original content. These influencers are still expensive to work with, but more likely to be in your budget. There is also the danger of losing the authenticity that lesser known influencers provide because it’s obvious their product reviews are paid. Try this if you have a large budget and can strike an agreement that utilizes multiple posts over time.  


thefirstmess instagram influencer table with yogurt, blueberries, and other probiotics


Micro-Influencer: Industry experts and topic specialists that have less than 100K followers. Think Clean Beauty reviewers, Outdoor lifestyle photographers, Fashionista’s, Exercise Enthusiasts, and more. People tend to trust the opinion of micro-influencers more than macro or mega because they have the industry-specific background to justify their opinion. This is a great area to start if you have a smaller budget or want to target your product to a niche audience.

Nano-Influencer: The “is everyone an influencer!?” category. Nano-influencers are those who have less than 5K followers on social. Now, before you start thinking your mom could be a nano-influencer, hear us out. Nanos are the MOST trusted of all influencers because their entire audience tends to be people they know. This is a great way to leverage potentially influential people in your local area, or even multiple communities on a nano level. If you’re a local business and your products are only available in your area, this is the influencer tier for you. If your business has more reach but you’re still looking for a grassroots feel, nano-influencers are the way to go.

How to find good influencers and reviewers

As we’ve mentioned above, reviewers and influencers come in all shapes and sizes. This person will be associated with your company’s name, (even if it’s just a backlink,) so you’ll want them to be respectful, professional and in line with your brand ideals. When searching for folks to work with, consider a few things:

  • Can they show an example of past work?

  • Do they have a blog AND social media channels?

  • Are they on YouTube or Vlog?

  • Do they create quality content (compelling images, solid writing, etc.)

  • How many social media followers do they have?

  • What is their average engagement on a social post?

  • How many unique visitors do they have per month to their blog/website?

Many times, social influencers will have a deck with all this information. If they are new or on the smaller side, you can request this information via email. Pro Tip: if they respond to your email in a timely manner, they’re probably easy to work with!

Want to find influencers on your own? Here are a few ways:

  • Search Instagram using a # hashtag related to your product and scroll through the top posts for related content. DM (direct message) or email the users you find.

  • Go to your competitors’ social accounts and see which influencers they’ve worked with recently.

  • Google competitors’ products and see what blogs and websites pop up.


Tracking influencers & metrics

If you can’t track your clicks and sales – how do you know if the strategy is working?

Work with influencers individually. This is your cheapest option. Use a program that gives each influencer a referral link and manually email them to negotiate. Referral links allow you to track how many clicks and conversions an influencer has on their blog or social media over a certain amount of time. This also allows you to pay a commission based on sales (if that’s something you’ve worked out with your influencer). Try a program like Affiliatly (starts at $16/mo). This works well if you’re balancing less than 100 influencers per month.

Negatives: Working with influencers one-on-one is time-consuming and involves manual vetting.

Pro Tip: If you choose to go manual – make sure you have a basic contract in place stating that the product or service is in exchange for an honest review on their website, blog or social media. It’s often not worth the effort to harp on influencers that ghost, but a contract helps keep people honest.

Use an Influencer CRM platform. Using a platform such as AspireIQ, Webfluential or Heartbeat gives you access to hundreds to thousands of influencers who have already been vetted for prompt, quality content, and gives you analytics on who’s clicking and who’s buying so you can target your marketing efforts. It also keeps everything in one place, which creates ease of use for you and your team. This system makes it easy to work with 100+ influencers at a time.

Negatives: These influencers are already working for a fixed rate and it’s not possible to offer a lower bid. You may also have trouble finding influencers for a specific market.

Hire an agency. There are agencies that focus on finding, negotiating with, and tracking influencers. Influencer Marketing Hub has a vetted list of influencer marketing agencies. Working with an agency is a great time-saver, and enables large campaigns with thousands of reviews per month. Pricing typically starts at $1,000/mo.

Negatives: This is the most expensive option for hiring micro- and nano-influencers.

Will you try Influencer Marketing?

Does influencer marketing sound like something that could fit into your marketing strategy? Have you tried influencer marketing with success? Give us a shout at [email protected] and let us know!