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Influencer Marketing - How it has Evolved

While the trend of influencer marketing has gained momentum mainly during the past 10 to 15 years, its history actually dates back to the start of the 1700s. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the number of goods and services available greatly increased, which gave rise to the need for using influential people to market it to the masses. For over a century, companies have been using influential personalities to influence consumer buying behavior. The early 20th century was a time when for each product or industry, there were only a few brands and competition within industries was nowhere as intense as it is today. While the techniques used for influencer marketing have evolved greatly over the past 100 years or so, the underlying idea remains the same - leveraging people with a large following to influence the purchasing decisions of their followers.

Back in the day, brands would rely on engaging celebrities the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Hedy Lamarr to engage fans and promote their products. In the 1930s, Coca-Cola used Santa Claus in their marketing campaign to convey a jolly and cheerful message associated with consuming Coca-Cola.This trend continued across the mid to late twentieth century, with campaigns like the ‘Marlboro Man’ for marketing tobacco products garnering widespread acclaim. 

But small businesses and financially strained companies could not benefit from these kinds of campaigns because of the exorbitantly high cost of collaborating with famous celebrities. It is only the advent of social media and digital marketing platforms during the 21st century that has enabled small and large, old and new businesses alike to benefit from the wonders of influencer influencer marketing.

Perhaps one of the most significant transformations in the history of influencer marketing has been that of the way in which consumers’ responsiveness to different types of marketing campaigns has changed. People no longer want to be told to buy a product by someone they barely know. While using celebrities to sell products ranging from food items to cigars to perfumes was highly successful during the 20th century, the consumer of today actually gets annoyed when television or Internet adverts pop up. Nowadays, people look for stories or content that they identify with and influencers that they can feel a sense of connection with. This is why the elements of trust and authenticity have become so important as influencer marketing has evolved over the years.

While influencer marketing has existed in one form or another since the early 20th century, the term ‘influencer’ has only begun to be used frequently during the past 15 years or so. The rise of social media platforms and their usage has made this term more commonly known. Today, influencers are a key part of the digital marketing strategy for a large number of brands. Influencer marketing is no longer limited to celebrities. Anyone can be an influencer if they are able to gather a large social media following and can translate their interests into social media posts. This entails that regardless of the size of your business, there will be an influencer out there that can cater to your digital marketing needs.

The sudden rise of social media platforms during the past 20 years such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, Twitter and YouTube has revolutionized the influencer marketing arena. These so-called ‘instant’ platforms have allowed people to consume large swathes of media content within seconds. As people scroll through their phones, they consume an unprecedented amount of content which consciously or subconsciously impacts their tastes, buying preferences, behavior, as well as decision making. Not only has this opened up new avenues for businesses in terms of marketing opportunities, it has also added to the competition within industries. Increasingly, firms operating in industries where influencer marketing is adopted widely, face the risk of lagging behind if they don't follow along.

Most recently in the history of influencer marketing, the trend of influencer marketing agencies has been on the rise. These agencies serve as a bridge between influencers and brands to help execute social media marketing campaigns that are beneficial for influencers and brands alike. Influencer Hub is a social media marketing agency based in Florida, that specializes in connecting micro-influencers on Instagram to brands in the US. It offers a comprehensive solution to influencer marketing that can save businesses a lot of time and money, and can enable influencers to conveniently find brands to collaborate with. You can check out more about how Influencer Hub can turn your digital marketing plans into a success by clicking here!