What the Hell is Influencer Marketing?


Do you remember this influencer marketing campaign?

An example of an early influencer marketing campaign - the "Got Milk?" campaign.

Chances are you stumbled into one of these back in the late 90’s when the California Milk Processing Board hired Jon Steel and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to sell more milk. 

This was no small undertaking in 1993, as most young consumers saw milk simply as something their parents drank back in the day. Nonetheless, Steel delivered on his promise to make a killer campaign for the board, but little did he know they were crafting one of the most iconic advertising campaigns in modern-day marketing.


With the help of influencer marketing.

While they didn’t call it that at the time, agencies were setting the standard for what would become what we now know as influencer marketing. Partnering with celebrities, athletes, fictional TV show characters, politicians, even cartoons, Steel and his team took milk from commodity to cultural icon. 

When it was all said and done, they worked with hundreds of influencers to create over 70 commercials and 350 print ads. As a result, over 80% of U.S. consumers ran into some form of the “Got Milk” campaign every single day.

Can you imagine what that did for milk sales?

While we could go on about the drink, we’re here to talk about influencer marketing and how it can catapult your brand from a blur on the social feed to a thumb-stopping experience people can’t resist. 

Let’s get into it.

What influencer marketing is not.

Don't worry, we are going to get to what influencer marketing is, but before we do, let’s talk about what is not. There are a lot of marketing teams out there that would tell you they know influencer marketing inside and out, when the truth is, they simply don’t.

Influencer marketing is not about quick turnarounds and fast results. 

For some reason, marketers are under the impression that influencers can create a thumb-stopping video in a matter of minutes. They see the 30-second clip that goes on TikTok, but don’t actually know all the work that goes into creating that content. 

Influencer marketing only works when you take time and give creators space to do what they do best. If you think that you’re going to hire an influencer and get a video back in your hands within 24 hours that jumps your follower count by thousands, you’re wrong.

Not to mention, approaching influencers with this fast-result mindset, will almost guarantee that they won’t want to work with you as it comes off as insincere and fake. 

Influencer marketing is not transactional or temporary. 

If you think that influencer marketing is as simple as sending an influencer some money and getting a viral video in return, it’s not. Influencers are not temporary boosts for brands to leverage when they need it most.

Influencers are long-term partners who are genuinely invested in your brand, purpose, products, and services. They want to work with brands who do the same and put them first when it comes to creating content that grows both audiences.

The real benefit of quality influencer marketing is that it helps grow both the brand and the influencer at the same time. That cannot happen if you’re trying to use an influencer for content once and move on. 

Influencer marketing is not a celebrity endorsement. 

Most of us remember those classic celebrity endorsement commercials of the ‘90s, right?

Michael Jordan and Nike. A Tribe Called Quest and Sprite. Britney Spears and Polaroid. Hell, even Fabio had a deal going with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! 

These relationships were driven by a simple need–sales.

Sure, Fabio might take a taste of fake butter for a commercial, but do you think that he actually eats it on a daily basis? I don’t think you can get 6-pack abs scarfing down spoonfuls of preservatives on your toast every day. 

I know we just talked about celebrities earlier, but over the last 30 years, their role in the marketing ecosystem has changed dramatically as a result of a younger purchasing audience.

While these celebrity endorsements proved to be successful for brands back in the day, this strategy has become less and less popular with Gen Z consumers and the rise of modern influencer marketing that leverages niche creators and unique content. 

Now that we’ve established what influencer marketing is not, let’s paint a clear picture of what it is and how it can benefit your brand.

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What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a person on social media (AKA a "social media influencer") endorsing a brand, product, or service.

Pretty simple, right? 

Here’s the thing, influencer marketing is unlike any other marketing tactic for a variety of reasons, but we're going to focus on three for the sake of simplicity: Scalability, Accessibility, Variety.


First thing’s first, influencer marketing crushes it because of its scalability. When we say scalability, we’re talking about the capacity to repeat a process over and at different sizes, while still yielding positive results.

What’s beautiful about influencer marketing is that it can scale up and down depending on the reach of the influencer(s) that you are working with.

Say you’re a smaller brand that’s new to the market and wants to get its name out there—a nano-influencer would be the perfect person to collaborate with while keeping your budget nice and low. 

On the other hand, say you’re a global streaming platform (cough cough, Netflix) that wants to promote your new original series with a TikTok campaign—a larger influencer might just be the perfect person to help get that viewership up on that premier night!

Whatever your industry, niche, or market, influencer marketing can always be scaled up and down based on your goals and needs. 


Customers might have loved the idea that a celebrity was wearing the same clothes or eating the same food as them back in circa 2004, but today, Gen Z customers want more than that from brands.

They’re looking beyond the product itself and into the world of the brand and the people associated with it. That’s where influencers play a huge role in mending the gap. 

See, celebrities, though notable in status, are hard to connect with on a personal level. They are living a life that most of us everyday Americans simply don’t. On the other hand, influencers are quite literally the people we walk by every single day.

They work regular jobs and have regular lives, except they’re insanely influential when it comes to a particular thing. Chances are one of your friends is a nano-influencer for some brand, product, or service, and they don’t even know it. And if you don’t see it, then that influencer might just be you.

Nonetheless, influencers can be the perfect connection between brand and buyer because they are real people promoting real products—not some polished celebrity whose preferences change based on the dollar amount put in front of them.

People follow influencers because they give a glimpse into the life of someone who is deeply passionate about a particular subject and they share real thoughts, experiences, and insights about that topic. They are honest and open about their opinions and as such, have a much more authentic relationship with their followers. This intimate connection leads to deeper trust and over time, converts those faithful followers into paying customers. 

I almost forgot to mention that influencers are also significantly more accessible today with the help of social media and other influencer marketing platforms, like Ubiquitous. 


Influencer marketing can be some of the best money you’ve ever spent, once you realize the variety of applications it has for your brand.

Consider this, most brands have a combination of subgroups inside of their general audience. 

For example, let’s say you are a beverage brand that flaunts a low-sugar mixer made from real fruit that goes great with different types of alcohol. 

You might have one audience of potential customers that consists of health-conscious people who like mixed drinks but are watching their sugar intake. At the same time, you might also have an audience of potential customers who love making mixed drinks but are not fans of all the preservatives put into modern-day mixers. 

While these two audiences are distinctly different, they both can find interest in your product as it can serve both of them equally. If you come from a traditional marketing background, you might recognize this idea as a lookalike audience.

Influencer marketing is the intersection where these two distinct lookalike audiences meet and align themselves with one singular brand. 

Instead of forking over the big bucks to work with one giant influencer whose entire focus is on one audience, partnering with a variety of smaller influencers in different niches inside your industry can help explore different avenues that your brand and products can play in, and potentially lead to the discovery of a completely new group of customers. 

From there, these groups interact with one another all under the same umbrella that is your brand resulting in growth, reach, and most importantly, sales.

Ready to grow your brand to new heights with influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing can take your brand from the ground floor to the penthouse when you know how to do it the right way. Now that you know what influencer marketing is and what it is not, it’s time to get started on your first campaign.

Click here if you want to read more about how to set goals for this influencer marketing campaign. 


If influencer marketing sounds like a great idea for your brand, but you don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. We work with thousands of influencers and brands to deploy influencer marketing campaigns that drive growth for brands of every size. Drop us a line right here.

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