We're accustomed to celebrity endorsements. No matter how old you are, Hollywood stars have told you what to buy, what to wear and where to go. Few of us are old enough to remember Babe Ruth's early endorsement career, but as early as 1922 fans were treated to promotional "Babe Ruth Home Run Baseball" ice cream postcards.
Today's celebrity influencers are drawn from sports, entertainment and celebrity for celebrity's sake (a domain dominated, inexplicably, by heiress and style icon Paris Hilton). Celebrities are paid big money to endorse products and be seen in everything from sunglasses to designer gowns, and consumers know it.
Recently, however, celebrities have been losing ground to usurpers from a surprising arena: real life. It's not a new concept — word of mouth is a tried-and-true concept. Consumers have always turned to friends and family for opinions they trust. Social media amplifies personal endorsements from the kitchen table to the entire world.
"Unlike most celebrities, influencers respond to questions, give detailed opinions and participate in conversations."
What defines influencers?
Popular influencers might be anyone in any country from any walk of life. They might be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, personal blogs or any other social media channel that connects people and builds audience.
The most defining characteristic of effective influencers is not number of followers — it's quality of engagement. Unlike most celebrities, influencers respond to questions, give detailed opinions and participate in conversations. They create valuable content: personal stories about the products they use, photos, reviews and videos. Their readers respond and share, and good influencers keep the conversation going.
The Appeal Of Real
While we like to pretend celebrities are just like us, we know they aren't. Kim Kardashian rented a private island for Kanye's 40th birthday. The vast majority of consumers would most likely blow their budgets on the sandals Kim wore to the beach.
Influencers are often the polar opposite of celebrities. They are overwrought parents sharing everyday trials and triumphs. They are millennial outdoor adventurers sharing stories of kayaking and mountain biking. They are teenage fashionistas setting trends with bold style choices. They are real, accessible and credible.