Digital influencer is an individual that has an above average impact on a segment, be it big, small, or even a niche. The individual is able to build a loyal and engaged audience, exerting influence over their opinions and attitudes. On a last analysis, the person influences people who follow them in their decisions to purchase. Digital influencers are also called creators for their high ability in producing relevant content for their audience.
Although influence, by definition, is a phenomenon that is inherent to the nature of groups of people – and therefore, precedes the internet – the term “influencer” nowadays is very associated to digital platforms and social networks. As a consequence, according to Google Trends, the word is three times more searched in 2017 than it was in 2012.
What distinguishes the digital influencer is the high performance in three aspects: reach, relevance, and resonance. These three elements work as pillars of influence.
This concept is important in the context of influencer marketing because it helps understanding not just the effect of influence itself, but allows to identify the real digital influencers. For example, a social network user who has many followers (reach), but doesn’t generate engagement (resonance) nor is relevant in the group, is not a digital influencer. In the same way, someone who produces highly relevant content, but only has 80 followers is also not a digital influencer because of the low reach. And it goes on.
An important alert is: reach doesn’t entail big audiences. There are segments of all sizes. A popular digital influencer in electronic music, for instance, tends to gather many more fans than someone who is influent in erudite music. However, the classical music expert may have reach, relevance and resonance that are relatively larger.
Digital influencer: native or not?
Among influencers, there are online content producers, such as YouTubers, Instagramers and bloggers, but classification also embodies other types:
Digital native: they are famous people who built their following on digital platforms and social networks – such as blogs, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, podcasts, etc. A few examples: Gabriela Pugliesi, Whindersson Nunes, PewDiePie and Hugo Gloss.
Celebrities: they became famous in traditional media – such as TV, movies, radio – and used their popularity to create a following on social networks. That is the case of Luciano Huck, Anitta and Neymar.
Journalists: the mechanism is like the celebrities’, since they used their acquired reputation and name on other medias to build their own following – like what happened to Luis Nassif and Leonardo Sakamoto.
Authorities: they have media exposure because they are constantly used as source or reference in traditional media. And like celebrities and journalists, they use their fame to boost their online channels. Examples: Dráuzio Varella, Mario Sérgio Cortella, Paulo Miranda Nascimento, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Márcio Atalla, Laura Muller.
Activists: they may be classified as a type of digital influencer. They built an audience, but not exactly because they released a certain content, but because they managed to conquer a leadership position in groups that unite towards a cause. Those are the cases of Luisa Mel, Emma Watson, Björk, Taís Araújo and Jout Jout.
The role of the digital influencer
According to data from Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), 87% of Brazilian people with access to the internet are present in some form of social network and research three times before they purchase something. It is in that context that the digital influencer becomes important from the marketing point of view. Since they have the persuasion power over consumers, having them as allies of the brand may make a huge difference. Such mechanism explains the influencer marketing growth in the United States since 2014 – and in Brazil from 2017 on.
In the end of 2015, Youpix posted a video on YouTube about the cultural and behavioral revolution promoted by digital influencers. It’s a kind of a mini-documentary that puts the influencer in the condition of a media player.
“At some point, it was necessary to hire an actor, a producer and also a communication media to create ads or run campaigns. Nowadays, the influencer combines all these three elements into one person. The message construction comes all ready because the influencer has everything necessary. In other words, it’s much more than CPC, CPM or ROI of the campaign.”
A sarcastic look on the digital influencer
Creators already occupy a relevant position on the Brazilian digital marketing scene. If, on one hand, it generates opportunities and boosts influencer marketing, it generates criticism on the other hand. Porta dos Fundos, for instance, mocked digital influencers who produce low relevance content.
This post was originally published on October 20, 2017 and has been updated since then.