The Age of the Influencer - How It All Began
Using a well-known public figure or celebrity to endorse and promote a brand or business, certainly isn't anything new. For decades, brands have been using famous faces as a means of advertising. However, in more recent years there has been a shift, with brands now turning their focus to influencer marketing. With a captive audience completely at their disposal, the world of social media influencers hasn't gone unnoticed by savvy businesses.
Let's rewind to over a decade ago, to 2005 where social media was just beginning to take root with the launch of one of today's most successful social media platforms.
2005: YouTube Was Established
For many years, television was the main source of entertainment as well as the most common way to display advertisements and marketing. That was, until YouTube formed in 2005.
Owned by Google and originally launched as a platform for sharing funny videos with people around the world, YouTube quickly became one of the fastest growing platforms on the entire Internet with almost 2 billion active users each month.
Many artists and musicians also used YouTube as a way of getting their music out there in the hope of kickstarting a career, such as Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber.
2009: The Influencer Phenomenon
2009 was the year that saw a huge influx of bloggers and YouTubers. The likes of Alfie Deyes, Zoella, Tanya Burr and PewDiePie took the world by storm and kickstarted the influencer phenomenon. What started out as a hobby turned into life changing careers and led them to become industry leaders.
With a beauty and lifestyle range, four best selling books and multiple businesses, Zoella, also known as Zoe Sugg has become the ultimate girl boss all thanks to her blog and influencer status.
PewDiePie in particular has made a rather large impact and is now one of the highest paid YouTubers and has over 98 million subscribers.
2010: The Beginning of Instagram
Originally used for posting images of food and pretty scenery, now, Instagram has changed the game for influencers, brands and consumers. It allowed influencers to move their social standing to a new platform, enabling them to reach a broader audience and cross promote their social media platforms.
This platform now allows brands to tap into influencers' following and pay them to create sponsored posts and content. Instagram has enabled followers and consumers to gain an insight into the influencers' lifestyle as well as gaining product recommendations and inspirations at the click of a button.
Instagram has continued to grow into an influencer-led platform and has become an industry of its own. Introducing features such as Instagram Stories, Instagram Live and Instagram TV (IGTV), has allowed content and shoppable ads to be consumed in a variety of different forms, catering for all audiences.
2013: The Power of Influencers
Reinforcing the power and sway that social media has on the world, a false tweet posted on an account in April 2013 temporarily wiped out over $130 billion off of the US stock market.
Now, Twitter has an average of 330 million monthly active users.
Kylie Jenner is one of the most famous people online. Fans have continued to follow her every move, so much so, that when she tweeted about how little she used social media platform Snapchat, shares within the company dropped by 6% that same day - an estimated loss of between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion.
Caroline Hirons is a prime example of having ultimate influencer power. Known as the 'Queen of Skincare', Caroline has been known to mention a product on her blog, YouTube channel or in an Instagram post and either sell out products or increase sales.
2014-2016: Stats Are Beginning To Stack Up
Between the years of 2014 and 2016, statistics show that consumers really were beginning to be influenced by social media marketing and influencers. At the time:
- 40% of people said they had purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube.
- 71% of marketers believed that ongoing ambassadorships are the most effective form of influencer marketing.
- 70% of influencers felt that the most effective way to collaborate with brands is through an influencer marketing platform.
- 49% of people said they relied on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions.
- 74% of people turned to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions.
This was when the influencer marketing industry was only just getting started. The industry has since come on in leaps and bounds becoming one of the most impactful forms of marketing.
2017: L'Oreal Reaches Millions With Huge Social Media Campaign
Earlier this year, beauty brand L’Oréal recruited 15 celebrities and influencers to stand as the endorsement for their Confidence Training Programme which promotes self-worth as opposed to self-doubt, in association with The Prince’s Trust. Of the 15, nine of them were social media influencers, including Marcus Butler and Emily Canham – who have a combined Instagram following of almost 4 million!
L'Oreal now uses a number of social media influencers to regularly advertise products and often uses them as the faces of their campaigns, including Victoria Magrath, Emily Canham and Ruth Crilly
2018: The Love Island Effect
Love Island has been around for a while now, however, over the last year or so, it has firmly taken a seat at the forefront of social media influencing. Love Island stars are quickly becoming some of the most influential people on the Internet and brands are queuing up to work with them.
Becoming an influencer in the less traditional way, reality TV shows like Love Island are serving to create modern day celebrities out of its stars.
With a queue of brands waiting to work with them fresh from the villa, Love Island contestants are quick to become social media stars. Islanders are now the ultimate influencer, taking to Instagram to share their paid partnerships and brand collaborations.
Previous Islanders have gone on to collaborate with huge clothing and beauty brands. 2016 Love Island star Olivia Bowen has since had her own reality TV show and has launched her own clothing brand, Exempt Society. 2019 runner-up Molly-Mae Hague has also has her own clothing range with Pretty Little Thing.
Love Island helps to pave the way to social media stardom as seen with this years winner, Amber Gill. She lead the way with an astonishing 5880% increase in Instagram followers just a week after the final, with Ovie Soko a close second with a 5552% increase.
The Future of Influencers Present Day
Influencers have well and truly taken over the Internet and social media marketing - and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
With influencers such as Joe Sugg taking part in BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, Zoe Sugg taking part in The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, Tanya Burr becoming a Hollywood actress and many other social media stars appearing on television and walking red carpets, it appears they are here to stay.
The influencer marketing industry is set to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, and with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) continuing to set out guidelines for social media influencers, it is clear that it is one of the most impactful forms of marketing. The industry has also ventured into the world of virtual influencers. With more of them emerging on social media platforms, brands are queueing up to work with this new and exciting futuristic means of marketing.
As we get ready to step into a new century, what exactly does the future of influencers look like?
Now, brands no longer have to seek out influencers themselves. Thanks to the help of Influencer Matchmaker, we help pair top brands with high-profile social media influencers for campaigns, sponsored posts and brand ambassadorships.
For more information, please contact our influencer team on 0239 580 427 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.