Who or What Exactly is an ‘Influencer'?

By Averi Haugesag
Aug. 25, 2018

There are a lot of buzz words in the world of marketing these days: SEO, AI, KPIs, hyperlocal and of course, ‘influencers.’ But who/what really is an ‘influencer’ aside from those with a high number of followers on social media?

In order to truly grasp the concept of influencer marketing, you must first define who/ what an ‘influencer’ is and why they’re important for your brand.

Influencers can bring a lot to the table, from brand awareness and endorsement to the ability to engage with a new target audience or increase overall sales.

There’s more to being an influencer than just having a high number of followers on social media, so to keep it simple, we’re going to break it down into four categories: celebrities, experts or thought leaders, content creators or bloggers, and community influencers.


When one hears the term ‘influencer,’ it’s likely names such as Kim Kardashian, Lionel Messi or Justin Bieber come to mind. Rest assured, you are correct-- these people are influencers! Celebrities are the most well-known form of influencers as they often have large followings both on and off of social media. Though they often come with a high price tag, celebrity endorsements are a great way to attract people to your brad.

Pro tip: Try to stick to those who organically enjoy and support your brand. The more natural the partnership can be, the better.

Experts or thought leaders


While they may not have 100K + followers on Instagram, experts or thought leaders are an extremely effective way to grow your brand and its credibility. Industry experts or thought leaders come in all different forms-- he/ she could be a CEO, a professor, founder of a company, a journalist, a scientist or a professional advisor.

Thought leaders are respected in society because of their experience and knowledgeability of a particular topic or profession. These people can help boost your image, as well as potentially expose your brand to new audiences. By leveraging experts or thought leaders as influencers for your brand you’ll show the industry that your company has been vetted by the best of the best.

Content creators or bloggers

Content creators or bloggers are those who have a highly followed persona on social media. They’re the ones who do giveaways and have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers.

The benefit to working with this type of influencer is that you have the opportunity to get your brand in front of people with varying interests, whether that’s health/ wellness, food, writing, drawing, art, etc. These people are often great at creating content (which can be a huge plus for you and your brand). They might be great writers, photographers, videographers and/or editors.

Pro tip: Find content creators or bloggers to work with who are local to the geography you want to grow within. If you do this, it is more likely the majority of the influencers’ following lives nearby.

Community influencers


Community influencers are those who are extremely involved in an organization or particular city/region. They might be involved with local politics/organizations such as the chamber of commerce, regular volunteers in the community, or school board members. They’re well connected socially and have a good reputation among those they work with or encounter. Since they often don’t have a large social media presence, these influencers might offer verbal endorsement or serve as a good person to be seen at one of your company events.

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