Table of contents
  1. 1. Influencer definition
  2. 2. History of influencer
  3. 3. Relevance to influencer marketing
  4. 4. How the term is applied

Influencer definition

The original definition of influencer is simply a “marketing entity that influences,” but technology has made things a bit more complicated. Defining “social media influencer” is difficult since it's a new concept emerging together with the presence of social media. These sites are forcing professionals to redefine what it means to have influence in whole. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms became so popular that the world of marketing has been changing dramatically.

In somewhat of a similar fashion, famous celebrities are slowly being replaced by the likes of popular online personalities. Those people are elevated through social media and are connecting with millions of engaged fans from all over the world. A lot has changed. This is why defining terms in influencer management has become relevant. 

Let’s see what definitions we find by looking at traditional dictionaries and schools. The Cambridge dictionary states that it’s: 

  • “. ...someone who affects or changes the way that other people behave. ...” 
  • “A person or group that has the ability to influence the behaviors or opinions of others. ...” 

From Webster’s dictionary

  • “A person or thing that influences. ...” 

There are many elements to the emerging trend, and it isn’t limited to what we currently see as a social media trend. It just so happens that social platforms are giving marketers a new voice and a new way of speaking. 

 

History of influencer

We can look as far back as 1890 when Nancy Green began working with the Davis Milling Company to become a household name known as Aunt Jemima. The Fatty Arbuckle era occurred during 1905 and ushered in a successful time for Murad Cigarettes. This agency showed businesses that an infectious craze around products could be created with celebrity endorsements. 

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was a famed actor in the early nineties, and his work brought an entirely new meaning to influencer marketing. Similar inspirations continued in pop culture but with the likes of brand mascots. Such provided businesses with a special kind of influence that came in the form of cartoon art. 

These names we recognized through Coca-Cola’s first Santa Claus, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse or Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger. The famous cartoons were then followed by the world’s most popular celebrities like Michael Jackson. He collaborated with Pepsi through a $5 million deal that set a major trend in brand awareness. 

Today’s influencer marketing and influencer management come with a different approach and appeal. It arrives through the power of social media and is setting the stage for a new wave in marketing. This form of influencing is established through recent studies that support how powerful online recommendations have become. These “recommendations” e.g. product reviews or tutorials were taken to newer heights with the help of popular social media personas that are now partnering with corporate brands. 

 

Relevance to influencer marketing

How we’re defining "influencer" in influencer marketing has an advantage for someone working to improve a social media account and to develop followers. The market changes provide both an advantage and disadvantage to popular brands and companies. The basis of social media influence gives power to individuals and their word. 

That power can be used for negative or positive publicity toward existing brands. Influence is summarized by what brands now have to consider while online. Such is the historic power of familiar faces, powerful idols, and beloved celebs. These traits are being found among professionals who are developing on social media. 

Marketers are working on better defining the boundaries of “influencer” due to so much being shifted. Professionals are being developed by managing their own careers, building their own fame and scaling a business without much interference from a middleman. It’s these concepts that modern marketers are adapting to. 

 

How the term is applied

New campaigns emerge every day. In an influencer marketing campaign, the outcome, methods, and strategies are what lead us into a better understanding of “influencer” and why these people now matter. The current definition of "influencer" is established by the professionals themselves. Their creative ideas, the ongoing content and the millions of people following their every move set the standard for what influencer marketing is and how it’s being developed.