Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for brands to reach their target customers effectively and efficiently.


As more and more companies understand the potential of an influencer’s following, it is essential to understand influencer marketing. In addition, understanding the current state of influencer marketing and how to leverage it correctly can help brands create cost-effective campaigns that generate impressive results.

This article will explain the following:

  1. Why is there a need for influencer marketing?
  2. What is influencer marketing?
  3. How influencer marketing works.
  4. Whether influencer marketing is successful.
  5. Which brands use influencer marketing.
  6. When influencer marketing goes wrong.
  7. What does it cost to work with influencers?
  8. Influencer marketing strategy.


1. Why is there a need for influencer marketing?


Need I remind you that your brand is your businesses’ most valuable asset, but it is increasingly difficult for brands to communicate with their target audiences. Consumers have found ways to block or ignore marketing messages. They are no longer influenced as much by traditional advertising. Screen time has changed with fewer people watching traditional television and opting for Netflix, with no ads, and YouTube, where you can skip most ads after 5 seconds if you do not have YouTube Premium to stop all ads. However, the average American still watches about 5 hours of live TV and 3 hours daily on their smartphone daily. That’s an average of about 8 hours of screen time per day. The typical American spends more time every day staring at screens than they do sleeping!

The beauty of the mobile platform is that it is always with the consumer – and reaching consumers through their smartphones helps to build a two-way conversation between brand and customer. Marketers are already using location-based technology on mobile campaigns, but getting through to consumers is challenging. Marketers need to find new and creative marketing tactics to be heard and build brand loyalty to reach their customers.


As consumers block or ignore marketing messages, marketers try to find less-guarded channels to communicate with their potential customers, like content marketing and influencer marketing. For reasons still under investigation, we are open to messages from those we follow.


2. What is influencer marketing?


Most are familiar with celebrity endorsements, the earliest type of influencer marketing, but today influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing or digital marketing. Social media influencer marketing is the process of utilising social influence (as personalities/ content creators and key opinion leaders) to market products or services on behalf of a brand to their audiences. Not all influencers are celebrities, though. As this type of marketing continues to grow, many companies are looking for ways to use it to maximise their reach.


Social media influencer marketing is an effective way for businesses to reach their target audience or potential customers and build a loyal customer base. By partnering with influencers who already have an established following and trust, brands can increase their online visibility with branded content, establish credibility, and boost sales.


One main advantage of influencer marketing over traditional advertising methods is personalised marketing. Influencers can personalise their campaigns, making them more relatable and compelling. They also have a higher degree of trust with their followers, which makes them more effective at engagement.


It may be a surprise, but the available data shows that most American brands employ influencer marketing. Still, many businesses are left wondering how to maximise the success of their influencer marketing campaigns.


3. How influencer marketing works


As mentioned, influencer marketing is an effective way to reach new customers and increase brand visibility. But how does it work? In this section, we’ll discuss the critical elements of successful influencer marketing. You can apply these tactics to your business to promote your brand on someone else’s social pages. We’ll look at what makes influencers unique, how to identify the right influencers for your brand, and how to optimise success with influencer campaigns. With a better understanding of these principles, you’ll be able to create meaningful relationships with influential people in your industry who will help spread the word about your products or services. In addition, you will surely get more eyes on your offerings by leveraging their collective reach and credibility within their online communities.


What makes influencers unique?

One key factor is authenticity; people trust influencers because they’re real people who come across as genuine and honest. In addition, influencers tend to be passionate about the topics they cover and can powerfully connect with their followers. This connection helps brands tap into potential customers’ emotions, making them more likely to take action when an ad or campaign comes up.

Another factor is trust; influencers are more likely to be trusted by consumers than the brands themselves. According to a recent study by Relationship Science, 83% of people trust bloggers and influencers in social media more than marketing messages from companies because people can relate to their messages.

Therefore, influencers can engage their followers in a way brands can’t. What’s more, they’re able to connect with them on an emotional level and reach them on a personal level.

How to identify the right influencers for your brand

You may find influencer marketing daunting initially because it is not as simple as asking them to promote your product. To maximise the effectiveness of influencer marketing, you need to know what you’re about and identify the right person for your brand.


A few factors should go into selecting the ideal influencers for your brand. First, consider their existing followers and demographic – look at the types of people who follow them and see if they align with your target audience. For example, if their followers are mostly interested in fashion while you’re selling electronics, they may not be the best fit. Additionally, look at how engaging their content is—what type of reactions do their posts generate? If their followers are mostly passive, they may not be the best fit. Once you have identified a few potential influencers, reach out to them and introduce yourself. Make sure to give them a brief overview of your product.


How to optimise success with influencer campaigns

Here are some of the best ways you should consider when optimising your influencer campaigns for success.

For starters, focus on finding quality over quantity. When choosing an influencer to work with, don’t just consider likes instead, think about how they can truly create value for your brand – whether that’s through storytelling capabilities or engaging content ideas. Additionally, determine clear objectives upfront so that both parties understand the goals of the campaign right away. Next, consider the correct type of influencer for your campaign. For example, a fashion brand might be better off working with a lifestyle blogger or an Instagram model than a celebrity that s promoting their new film. For a tech brand, you might want to reach out to an influencer with a popular YouTube channel or podcast.

When you find and build a relationship with your influencers, they can help you get your message across effectively, and you may find this type of marketing very beneficial.


4. Whether influencer marketing is successful


Effective influencer marketing depends on how much you’re willing to invest in time and incentivising the creator. A good strategy is to look for micro-influencers that have a small number of followers but high engagement rates. In addition, these creators usually have niche audiences, which means they’re more likely to be genuine and helpful. Remember, however, to always check the credibility of your influencer, as you would working with someone else.


Note: influencer marketing does work best with the younger generation of 16 to 24, more or less.


5. Examples of brands that use influencer marketing


Examples of brands that implement influencer marketing are everywhere. From mega-corporations to small businesses, more and more companies are recognising the power of partnering with influential people on social media. As a result, influencer marketing has become essential for companies to reach their target audiences quickly and effectively.


Take Nike, for example; they have successfully used influencers to promote their brand, raise awareness about their products worldwide, and increase their influencer marketing annually. Additionally, they’ve utilised celebrities like LeBron James, Serena Williams and Drake to engage a larger audience across multiple platforms. Furthermore, luxury brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada have also seen great success with influencer marketing campaigns featuring highly influential models such as Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.


Influencer marketing is not just for global brands. Small and lesser-known brands are also benefitting from influencer marketing. Take, for example, Beardbrand – a small men’s grooming brand in Austin, Texas, founded in 2012 by Eric Bandholz. Through strategic partnerships with influential barbers and passionate customers on social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, Beardbrand has been able to grow its customer base exponentially. Similarly, Bombas – a US sock company – went from zero sales to amassing over 500 million impressions within the first year of their influencer campaign.


6. When influencer marketing goes wrong


A word of caution: When influencer marketing goes wrong, it can have disastrous consequences for a brand. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review found that more than half of marketers believe their influencer campaigns were unsuccessful. As a result, many companies struggle to get an adequate ROI on their investments and deal with the fallout from potentially damaging content posted by influencers.


For this reason, it is essential for brands to plan carefully when investing in any influencer campaign. Companies must thoroughly vet potential partners before entering into agreements with them, ensuring they are the right fit for the organisation and its goals. They should also review followers’ engagement rates and have an exit strategy ready if things don’t go as planned. By doing so, businesses can mitigate risks associated with this type of marketing and maximise their chances of success.


Reasons for influencer marketing gone wrong include making the wrong partnership choice, having unrealistic expectations, and failing to measure results.


When choosing an influencer partner, companies should always ensure they have a good understanding of their target audience and how their chosen individual aligns with their brand values. A mismatch between the two can result in a campaign that fails to gain traction or, worse still, generates negative publicity due to conflicting interests and views. Additionally, it is essential to set realistic expectations for what an influencer can bring in terms of engagement and ROI – if these expectations are not managed appropriately. A campaign could be doomed from the start. You can manage your brand’s influencer marketing in-house or let a general marketing agency do it. You could also work with a specialist influencer marketing agency that should have an influencer marketing hub and a well-developed influencer program.


7. What does it cost to work with influencers?

Information about what it costs to work with an influencer is hard to come by, but we can assume that the top-end mega-influencers will attract serious money. On the other hand, nano-influencers may be happy with free products and services as they are starting out and are still building their influence.

To get the attention of influencers, you can offer an affiliate marketing proposal based on a percentage commission of goods and services sold via their affiliate code. Affiliate commission of 30% to 50% is quite normal, which can make it very profitable even for influencers with a smaller number of followers to include affiliate links in their influencer posts. But make it worthwhile for them because they have the power to affect your brand awareness.

8. Influencer marketing strategy


Follow the simple strategy to succeed with social media influencer marketing:


8.1 What do you want to achieve?

Be clear about whether you want to build brand awareness or achieve sales. You are not going to do this on your own, so adopt a mindset of incorporating the opinions of the influencers. This approach will help earn their trust and respect, and they will be more likely to agree to mention the brand and give you access to their followers via endorsements and product showcases. Influencers have built their audiences over time, which needs to be respected if brands want them to promote their offerings.


8.2 The more followers, the better, right?

Identify influencers in your niche, but it is not always about the follower count. While followers on social media are great for social influencers, it’s not the most critical factor in choosing them. As already mentioned, you want an influencer with a following relevant to your brand and a good rapport with their followers, not necessarily the top social media account with the most social media posts. But do look at the likes and comments of the influencers that you are considering connecting your brand with the right people to optimise your return on investment. This is why working with several micro- to nano-influencers can be a better strategy than working with macro-influencers (>100,000 followers) or mega-influencers (>1,000,000 followers) like the Kardashian-Jenners. Very few businesses can, in any rate afford the mega-influencers.


Working with smaller influencers, not only will your conversion probably be higher, but it may also cost less to work with smaller influencers for content creation and social influencer marketing. So, look for influencers based on the level of influencer, micro-influencers (10,000 to 100,000 followers) and nano-influencers (<10,000 followers) and build your influencer strategy around these two categories.

8.3 Where are your ideal customers congregating online?

Identify one or two social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube or Instagram and Facebook where your ideal customers are, not the platforms you like. Fish where the fish are. However, the most popular social media platform is Instagram (Instagram stories work very well for Instagram users), with exceptional media value, but I suspect TikTok is becoming more popular daily. Even YouTube is taking notice of TikTok, and this is why they introduced Shorts, which is interesting because YouTube used to award longer and longer form videos to compete with Netflix, but now also wants its bread buttered on the other (shorter) side. Twitter surely lags behind, with YouTube and Facebook in the middle. However, if your target audience congregates on Facebook, then go for Facebook and not Instagram just because Instagram is the most popular for influencer marketing. Collaborating with an Instagram influencer can be very beneficial.


8.4 Complementary influencers

Complementary services

If you offer website development services, look for complementary micro- and nano-influencers on Facebook that provide brand strategy services, for example, to find the right influencers. The clients of a brand strategist would likely need a website design and development services. A word of caution, general lifestyle vloggers may not be the best option; instead look for small specialist influencers. The idea is to use an influencer with fewer, focused and engaged followers on any social media platform. Influencers should be posting photos that are relevant to your brand.


Complementary values

Few things will do more harm to the brand you have crafted so diligently than teaming up with influencers that do not align with your brand values. So first, be clear about what your brand stands for, which will help you shortlist influencers to make contact with and then take time to identify and follow potential influencers for some time to confirm your value fit before they start promoting your brand.


8.5 Disclosure

The required disclosure differs from country to country, so research the requirements for the territories you want to target. In general, however, the requirements include disclosing affiliation and labelling sponsored posts.


8.6 Managing influencer marketing

When you start with influencer marketing, you can manage the process manually and on a one-on-one basis, but as you extend your program, you can consider Upfluence and influencer management software like, Fourstarzz and Facebook Brand Collabs Manager.


I was named was named one of Africa’s top 10 marketing influencers in 2022.




In conclusion, there is no doubt that influencer marketing will continue to evolve, and the industry is set to grow. Successful influencer marketing is an invaluable tool for brands looking to reach their target customer. When done correctly, you can build an influencer program that can be a cost-effective way to build brand awareness, generate leads, and increase sales. However, it requires careful planning, research, and execution of campaigns. By leveraging the right influencers with a relevant audience and clear objectives, businesses can create powerful campaigns that will positively impact their bottom line.


If you’re looking for an effective way to reach new audiences and build long-lasting relationships, influencer marketing should be part of your overall marketing plan. Influencer marketing feeds into the How to create a brand strategy blueprint so check it out.



 Pieter Steenkamp


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Meet Dr Pieter Steenkamp

I am a brand strategist and academic and hold a PhD in brand management. As a brand management lecturer and researcher at a university in Cape Town, South Africa and a regular visiting professor at universities in Germany, I stay updated with the latest brand management developments. This affords me the incredible opportunity to consult with leaders of some of the most admired brands.

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