Influencers can be anyone, anywhere. They are anywhere from a college student chronicling their life to a popular fashion photographer on Instagram or even a well-read cybersecurity blogger who tweets. By establishing an identity and POV as a storyteller, an influencer often earns the power to shift perception and behavior. Influence is established, typically through the practice of establishing trust, credibility and believability by long-term, consistent content storytelling that builds authority within a specific set of topics.
Though some may assume influencers are just those with large followings, this isn’t always the case. Brands have built astonishingly successful campaigns with creators that have 1000 followers, 10 million followers, and everything in between. Content creators become influencers when they begin to invest their time, energy and money into their craft or passion. They span verticals and share a lens into their lives with those who share similar interests and passions. When looking into the specific kinds of influencers in their given field, we find a number of similarities amongst influencers. Influencer Expert Stephanie Stabulis believes that all influencers fall in to one or more of the following categories:
The most common type of influencer. Though they may not be an expert in their field, they’re the ones who have built a relationship with an audience that trusts them. When they have experience with a brand, product or service, they’re the ones to share their feedback and promote the brand, product or service with their following.
This is an influencer who has experienced first-hand what they’re sharing with their audience. They may have had success with a feat, like body transformation, building a business, applying makeup, navigating heartbreak, writing a book, overcoming hardship or sickness, traveling... the list goes on. Their credibility is usually built through the consistent sharing of the process behind the feat that can teach audiences how to achieve the same thing.
This person has an eye for visuals that people love. They may even be artists, photographers or designers. There is something so attractive about what is aesthetically pleasing. These people may have feeds full of really beautiful photography or art. This category is unique in that aesthetics don’t always equate to true influence outside of the creative design of content. Sometimes we only like this content because its value is its beauty. We see people focus on ‘aesthetic’ of popular categories like fashion, beauty and travel without adding deeper value that allows them to have the credibility and believe ability necessary to engage and influence in their category. The value they offer is in the actual aesthetic of the photo.
The advocate has a very powerful stance around what they believe in, and use their power to push forth an agenda usually hoping to create societal change. They may share and may have expertise in a certain subject area, but these creators and what they post is often rooted in specific missions and lifestyles. Examples include veganism, body positivity, climate change, etc. They build credibility through daily habits, choices and experiences that are visible and align with their mission that are made visible.
The Pioneer was the first, or one of the first, to do something no one had done before. They may have jumped on a new platform when it was brand new. They may have done something unique in how they used social media. They make up the least of the influencer population, but they are known for always doing new things
The idealist lives a life that many only dream they could live. We are drawn to these influencers because we live vicariously through what they do - they provide value to us by giving us an experience we may only get through online content. (These influencers aren’t creating how to live like me content...) Unlike an expert, what these creators experience may not be in reach for many of us - but we are engaged with the thought of it and emulate in more subtle ways.
The entertainer lives to entertain. We are drawn to these types of creators because it’s like watching mini movies. Maybe they make us laugh (like the entirety of my Tik Tok feed) or maybe they make us cry - but in some way their entertainment relaxes us and keeps us engaged. Entertainment is the phenomenon behind meme accounts, magazines, music accounts and some of the biggest YouTube creators. Like physical stages - social media is a stage for these types of entertainers.
Regardless of what type of influencer you choose to collaborate with, the key is to ensure the partnership makes sense for both sides, and is ultimately mutually beneficial.