What Is an Influencer?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 18, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated March 18, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Influencer marketing is a common strategy for modern businesses. At the center of this type of marketing are influencers, who promote a business. If you're running a business and looking for a way to get more people to hear about your product or make a purchase, then you may be interested in influencer marketing. In this guide, we discuss what an influencer is and how you can work with one.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is someone who has enough popularity or authority to impact purchasing decisions. From a business perspective, influencer marketing is when you work with one of these people to promote your brands. Businesses can take advantage of influencers' wide reach and authority to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

Related: Learn About Being a Marketing Director

Different types of influencers

There are four major types of influencers with whom you can work:


Celebrities gain their influence from their fame. Many celebrities get paid to appear in advertisements for different products or services, effectively giving that business their endorsement. Celebrities usually have the widest reach of any type of influencer.

Working with a celebrity would allow your ad to appeal to more people, but this is also a less targeted approach. Unlike with other influencers, followers of celebrities don't typically belong to a single demographic. So while your advertisement may get more notice with a celebrity in it, many of the people viewing it may not have previously held interest in your product or service. However, advertising to people who wouldn't normally make up your customer base also provides a good opportunity to expand your audience.

Online personalities

Online personalities are people who have gained fame largely through the internet. For example, some people have made careers out of building millions of followers on their social media accounts. As with celebrities, online stars attract a wider audience that is less focused on a particular demographic. Before working with any online stars, you should fully research the demographic they appeal to and ensure that it lines up with your own. If you're trying to grow your customer base, it may be helpful to collaborate with an online figure.

Industry experts

Industry experts are people who have gained a large number of online followers due to their expertise in a particular subject. Unlike celebrities and social stars, industry experts are known for their knowledge and experience. For example, someone with 10 years of marketing experience and a proven track record of success might build up a large online following of people looking for marketing advice.

Industry experts tend to have a more defined audience, making it easier for businesses to target a demographic through them. However, not every popular industry expert is looking to become an influencer. To run an influencer marketing campaign with an industry expert, you will need to find someone who appeals to your audience and is willing to become an influencer. This may require some negotiation if this expert doesn't usually promote other products.

Micro-niche experts

Micro-niche experts are people with moderate online followings in a very specific niche. They typically have tens of thousands of followers across their different social media channels, and because of this smaller size, they are often more engaged with their audience.

A good example of a micro-niche expert would be a woman with a popular blog about being a stay-at-home mother. Her audience would largely be other stay-at-home moms, with whom she engages regularly. Working with this blogger would give you access to a very focused niche. Micro-niche experts are helpful to work with because of this clearly defined audience and because they have built up trust among their followers.

How to work with an influencer

If you're considering working with an influencer to promote your brand, follows these steps:

1. Decide on goals

Think about your reasons for wanting to work with an influencer. Your goals will determine which type of influencer you want to work with and how much you're willing to spend. For example, if your goal is simply to get your brand name out there as much as you can, you may want to work with a celebrity. Conversely, if you have a smaller budget and want a more targeted approach, a micro-niche expert may make more sense.

Related: 10 Tips for Being More Goal-Oriented at Work

2. Explore your niche

Once you know the type of influencer you want to work with, you can start exploring your options. Look for influencers within your niche or industry that might be a good fit. You can typically find them by searching through social media sites for your industry and picking out the people with the largest social media following. If they are available to work as an influencer, you may see it stated in their profile, or you will see previous influencer ads in their post history. Once you've done plenty of research, make a list of all the best possibilities for your brand.

3. Contact the influencer directly

Once you have found an influencer that you think would be a good fit for your business, you can try reaching out to them directly. See if you can find an email address for them or send them a private message on one of their social media profiles. Let them know who you are and what you're looking for, and ask if you can schedule a time to talk about details if they are interested. Depending on the popularity of the influencer, they may direct you to their business agent to discuss things further.

4. Develop a marketing plan with the influencer

Another way to get started with influencers is through an influencer marketing agency. Many influencers will hire an agent to handle things like finding a business to work with them. Contacting an influencer's marketing agent makes things a lot simpler for you, as they can direct you to clients that best suit the audience you wish to target. Influencer marketing agencies will discuss things with you like your goals, your budget and the type of influencer you are hoping to work with. A simple internet search should lead you to plenty of influencer marketing agencies to consider.

Related: 7 Ways To Market a Small Business

5. Set up a campaign

Once you're in contact with an influencer of your choice, it's time to figure out the details. You will need to set up a campaign with them that details what you want them to promote, how you want them to promote it, how often they should promote it and how much everything will cost. It's important to get every detail worked out so that each side knows what is expected of them. After that, it's just a matter of getting the influencer anything they need to get started, such as sample products or ad copy, and then your influencer campaign will be ready to launch.

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