The term Influencer Marketing has not been in use for very long. It wasn’t until the mid-2000’s that business books with ‘influencer’ in the title began to appear, and the URL influencermarketing.com was first put to use only in 2007. Influencers, however, which I’ll use here to mean people who affect purchasing decisions, have been around in business for quite some time. In the B2B tech sector, for instance, these people by and large were journalists and analysts, which gave tech companies the need for Public Relations and Analyst Relations teams. Influencer Relations though is new, and yet no longer new enough to be foreign to any professional’s ears. Today most discussions of Influencer Marketing and Influencer Relations consist of methods and tactics, whereas just several years ago these were conversations of skepticism, if they existed at all. It’s even gotten to the point where people are tweeting and blogging about the steps one can take to become an influencer. And my personal favorite, people are now giving themselves the title Influencer on LinkedIn.
Seasoned salesteams and CEOs could have told you years ago that there are third parties unknown to the vendor companies who influence purchasing decisions, and that they’re no longer just journalists and analysts. It has taken Marketing departments a bit longer to come around to this view, but there now appears to be a general consensus around the existence of multiple influencer types and the wisdom of engaging with them. Unfortunately, the terms Influencer and Influencer Marketing have been degraded these last two years thanks to online-influence scoring services. This silliness notwithstanding, it seems the business community no longer needs to be convinced of the advantages, and in many cases necessity, of influencer marketing programs.
So, has Influencer Marketing become mainstream thinking? Has it tipped?