Influencer Marketing 101: What is a 'Social Media Influencer' and How Can They Grow Your Brand?

With the rise of social media comes the rise of social media influencers. Replacing the traditional 'celebrity' figure, they have their own dedicated audiences and they are authority figures in their niche.

I've been working in influencer marketing for over 3 years and have countless experiences of working with social media influencers so this influencers are the norm in my business. BUT, I'm constantly being asked about influencers - "who are they?", "how can they help my business?", "I don't *get* it!" 

If this sound like you, have no fear. I have a series of posts on this blog all about getting started with influencers and a free email course to help get you started with your first collaboration!

Let's take it back to the foundations. In this blog post, I'll take you through exactly what a 'social media influencer' is and how they can help you grow your brand online. 🙌

Influencer Marketing 101: What is a 'Social Media Influencer' and How Can You Work With Them? | With the rise of social media comes the avalanche of social media influencers. Replacing traditional celebrities and reinventing the meaning of edorsement and affiliate marketing, influencers are taking the internet my storm. Read my influencer marketing 101 guide to find out how to use influencers strategically for your small business. Don't forget to save this pin for later and grab your free guide to essential inflencer marketing ideas for your biz!


An 'influencer' is somebody that has an authority and a level of influence within a certain niche.

It could be anybody from a human rights campaigner to a local chef to an international superstar. As long as they have measurable influence over their respective audience, they can be considered an influencer. 

It's important that their influence is measurable so you know just how influential they are. And, no, I don't mean just looking at the number of Twitter followers they have. I mean looking at their engagement levels, mailing list subscribers, and blog post comments - you don't want to work with an influencer who is going throwing your brand into a void. You want to put your products and services in front of an engaged and loyal audience; which nicely brings us into the world of social media.

So, what is a 'Social Media Influencer'?

It's exactly what it sounds like! Unlike traditional celebrity figures, social media influencers are people who have considerable influence through social media platforms.

These can be bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, Viners, or even influencers with high followings on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Snapchat. And it's not usual that you will find someone who is influential across all of these platforms.

How many followers does someone need to be considered an influencer?

'How long is a piece of string?' This really depends on the niche and the audience we are looking at. If the niche is quite small and you find someone with a couple of thousand followers, then they're are probably influential within their community.

On the other hand, if you're looking to work with an influencer in quite an over-saturated niche (e.g. fashion and beauty blogging), then you might want to be looking for someone with a combined total of at least 10,000 followers or more. 

Don't take my word for this though. Every influencer is different and has a unique set of followers. You're the best judge of how great a fit there are for your brand but I have a criteria you might want to follow as a guideline over here.

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I love this phrase. It reminds me to look out for influencers with engaged and loyal followings rather than influencers with huge stats behind them. Sure, they might have over 1 million subscribers on YouTube, but they may only get around 100 comments per video (and probably even less on sponsored content). 

That's not a great return on your investment is it? Typically, the larger an influencer's audience is, the larger your budget should be. Why work with a huge blogger that charges over £3k per post but only gets 10 comments, when you can work with a smaller blogger who will ask for a lot less for the same, if not better, results?

Of course, this is on a case-by-case basis but it's important to remember that numbers aren't everything, especially when it comes to influencer marketing.


The greatest thing about influencers, and pretty much the sole reason you should want to collaborate with them, is that they have a huge amount of influence over your target audience. 

If a beauty vlogger talks about their favourite foundation in one video, it's likely that a percentage of their audience will rush out to grab the product themselves. If a well known music blogger tweets about a new band they're just LOVING, expect their Spotify plays to increase. 

I'm not saying that working with an influencer will make you sell out overnight or book clients for the next 6 months but, if implemented correctly, you should be able to notice a significant difference in your product or services' sales throughout your influencer marketing campaign.

If your product or service can easily be shared through word of mouth or recommendation, then influencer marketing is on the cards. So, are you going to play your hand, or fold? 🃏 

My #1 way to stay ahead of the game

Before approaching an influencer, you'll want to take a look through their blog and social profiles to see if your biz is something they will a) be interested in, and b) want to write about on their blog or post about on social media.

For example, a vegan food blogger once told me that a local burger chain reached out to her for a collaboration. Huge mistake! They should have taken the time to research the blogger and offer her a sample of their vegan-friendly menu or, better yet, move on to the next influencer on their outreach list. Her audience just won't be interested in what they have to offer, and that's a-okay.

Researching your influencer is a simple step but it's something that falls through the cracks with hundreds of brands every day. This is a great way to create a personalised approach and stand out from other brands in an influencer's crowded inbox.

Right, let's talk through a couple of ways you can work with social media influencers to grow your brand online!

Sponsored Blog Posts

If you've found a blogger that aligns with your target audience and brand values, you might want to ask them to write about your product or service. A sponsored blog post is an article featuring your products or services in return for a fee.

Now, the key thing to remember here is that your sponsored post shouldn't just be a straight up positive review of your product or service. If this is what you ask for, you'll likely get turned down, and if this is what you're presented with, you're likely working with an 'unprofessional' blogger (unless of course, they're entire blog is pure review madness).

The best sponsored blog posts are regular blog posts that integrate a positive mention of your product or service in an organic way. 

This ensures that your business doesn't come across too spammy and it means that the blog readers aren't being aggressively sold something they didn't ask to hear about.

Here are some ways you can naturally integrate your product or service into a blog post:

  • Monthly Favourites - many fashion, lifestyle and beauty bloggers will post a round-up of their favourite products at the end of each month. Find a blogger that already writes monthly favourites posts and ask them to if they would like to include your product in their round-up. This idea works best for product-based businesses but could be versatile depending on the influencer's style.
  • Top 10 ... - Similar to monthly favourites, these round-up posts are a great way to naturally slip your brand into a blog post. This format works a little better with service businesses, you just need to pitch a blog post idea that suits your industry.
  • The Must-Have X for X - For example, 'the must-have e-courses for newbie bloggers' or 'the must-have hair care products for thick hair'. It can work with any niche! 

Instagram posts

If you have a product you want to show-off (physical or digital), Instagram is the place to go. Whether it's a flat-lay featuring your new t-shirt business or a shot of an iPad hosting your new e-course, you can always find a way to showcase your brand on the 'Gram. 

In fact, I've got a few examples for you! 😄

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I love Carrie's snap + caption for Nocturne Studio. She has made the story behind the ad personal and in-keeping with her brand identity.

To promote a rail service, Hannah posted a photo of a day out with her family - what a creative way to advertise a train.

other creative collaborations include:

  • Sponsored Instagram Story mentions
  • Mention within an Instagram or Facebook Live stream
  • A simple tweet or Facebook post with a link to your website
  • Integration into a YouTube video series (such as a monthly favourites)
  • An interview on an influencer's podcast or blog
  • An email sequence sent to their mailing list during your product launch
  • Creating exclusive content for their membership or Facebook group
  • An Instagram takeover, where the influencer posts on behalf of your brand

I hope this blog post helped you understand the concept of influencers better and how you can work with them to grow your brand. If you're interested in learning more, don't forget to sign up to my free email course below!


with this FREE workshop! Influencer 101: How To Collaborate with Bloggers + Influencers To Grow Your Brand

In my free workshop, you'll learn:

  • The fundamentals of influencer marketing
  • 6 key ways influencer marketing can help your business
  • The 5 simple steps to get you from idea to collaboration
  • The 7 point criteria ALL influencers you work with should meet! 
  • 5 easy mistakes to avoid when collaborating with an influencer