A Brief History of Influencer Marketing

You can’t miss the influencer marketing of today – chances are you can name multiple products that have celebrity endorsements – and there is a reason why.  A celebrity endorsement, regardless of if it’s an athlete, musician, or model, provides tons of exposure for the product and often increases its sales immediately. With social media, you don’t even need a commercial or magazine ad – all you need is a picture of the endorser wearing or using your product, and your sales will significantly increase.

Influential marketing isn’t all about celebrities, though. It really involves finding the person or group of people who can influence others to buy your product. You can control your message and image while spreading the word about your product.

Where It All Began

Where did influencer marketing come from? Well, it is a relatively new phenomenon that has gained popularity because of the proven advantages associated with this type of marketing, but the concept began around the turn of the 20th century. Fictional characters were widely used in marketing during this time, with Aunt Jemima being one of the most popular figures to emerge. She was so popular, in fact, that Davis Milling Company hired a real woman to assume the role of Aunt Jemima in real life.

The First Celebrity Endorsements

Due to the marketing effectiveness of Aunt Jemima and other characters, real personalities become part of the influencer marketing of the 1920’s. Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb endorsed tobacco brands, although Coca-Cola stuck with fictional characters like Santa Claus. By the 1980’s, President Ronald Reagan was also endorsing cigarettes in a magazine ad, and Bob Hope was helping to market American Express credit cards. As celebrity influencer marketing grew, there seemed to be a competition to see who could land the biggest celebrity endorsement.

The Changing of Influencer Demographics

Although celebrity endorsements are still used as part of influencer marketing schemes, there are some disadvantages to this type of marketing. As we have all seen, if a celebrity endorsing a product gets into trouble or has a negative public image, this can damage the reputation of the product and the company, in some cases. It can also be rather expensive to pay a celebrity to endorse a product, particularly those with a lot of influence within their industry and with their national and international fan base. With the change in the demographics of influencers, businesses have found alternative marketing options that are just as successful.

The growth of social media has led to a change in the people or groups who can easily reach millions of people. From bloggers to podcasts, more and more marketing firms are using these outlets to influence customers to buy their products. Not only is it cost-effective, but it allows them to reach a more diverse audience that is likely to be influenced by products placed in their favorite vlog or YouTube video. They key is to find the right audience for your product and finding the best influencer on that audience. If you can do this, you can reach a large number of people with your product message.

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