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10 terms of influencer marketing you should know

If you are new to influencer marketing, it can be intimidating to hear all these different terms, expressions and definition everybody seems to know but you. What is often even more confusing is that people and companies have different understandings of the same term. This is often the case in influencer marketing. Therefore, in this post we equip you with 10 short definitions you should know when talking about influencer marketing.

Here are the 10 most commonly used and ambiguous terms of influencer marketing you should know:
  1. Influencers: In general, influencers are individuals who influence the attitudes, behaviors and thoughts of others. Typical examples are experts, entertainers, content creators, celebrities, scientists, as well as you and I.
  2. Influencer marketing: Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which companies make use of influencers to help promote their brands and products.
  3. Social media: Social media are Internet-based platforms or applications that allow individuals to create and share content. Among the most popular social network websites are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  4. Content creators: A content creator is an individual or a group of individuals who create and share content on social media, thereby building up their own community through social media. Content is placed on their social media profiles and typical examples are Instagram posts or YouTube videos. Content creators are individuals who have influence on others and are often referred to as (social media) influencers.
  5. Engagement: Engagement is the total number of interactions of a piece of content on a social media profile. This includes – amongst others – number of views on YouTube or likes, comments, and shares on Instagram posts.
  6. Reach: Reach is a metric that provides information about the potential and actual number of people reached by content or social media profiles.

    There are many ways how to define reach in a narrower way. For example, Instagram defines reach as the number of unique users that see a post on Instagram. In contrast, YouTube defines and measures reach and frequency differently from Instagram. Thus, there exists many ways not only to define, but also to measure reach.

    People influence each other. If I talk about reach in my blog posts, I talk about the potential reach of influence of content on a social media profile. For example, if content creators have each 10’000 followers on their Instagram account, they have a reach of 10’000 people each. Thus, reach is the number of followers or subscribers of a content creator on his or her social media profile. Reach measures how many people might potentially reached and influenced by the content on a social media profile.

  7. Engagement rate: Engagement rate is a metric that provides information about the interaction and activities of the audience with a piece of content and social media profiles. Similar to reach, there are many possible ways to measure engagement rate. I measure engagement rate as the average engagement per content in proportion to the reach of a content creator (i.e. number of followers or subscribers).

    For instance, assume a content creator has 10’000 followers on his or her Instagram account. For a post on his or her social media profile with 5’000 likes and 0 comments, the engagement rate is 50% ((5’000 + 0) / 10’000). Hence, the engagement rate provides information about the interaction and activities of the audience in proportion to the audience that might be reached by a social media profile (e.g. content creator).

  8. Audience: The audience are individuals who consume content of content creators on social media. They are often referred to as the community of content creators. There are two consumption styles:
    • Individuals who actively contribute to content (e.g. by leaving a comment) or to profiles by following content creators, and;
    • Individuals who passively consume content without actively contributing to them (e.g. looking at an Instagram post without clicking the Like button)
  9. Organic content: Organic content is created by content creators and shared on their social media profiles. Organic content is not created in cooperation with companies.
  10. Sponsored content: Sponsored content can be paid or unpaid.

    Paid sponsored content is created by content creators and shared on their social media profiles. Paid sponsored content is created in cooperation with companies. Paid sponsored content is actively paid by companies.

    Unpaid sponsored content is created by content creators and shared on their social media profiles. They include recommendations for brands and products. However, unpaid sponsored content is created in cooperation with companies, but not actively paid by them. The payment is not a sum of money, but rather payment in kind or experiences (e.g. brand trips).

Why is the term “influencer” a bad job description? You learn more about in the next post.

JANA GROSS

Jana Gross is a PhD student at ETH Zurich. Her research is about social media and influencer marketing. The world of social media fascinates her. She shares her fascination and knowledge on current topics in social media and influencer marketing with us. In the context of our joint blog series, she regularly writes posts on our blog in the upcoming weeks.

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