Influencer Marketing is A‑Changing

Influencers are focusing on their products—instead of everyone else’s.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer


Influencer mar­ket­ing is evolving — are you ready to compete?

As the num­ber of approach­able journ­al­ists seems to dwindle, the import­ance of influ­en­cer mar­ket­ing has increased — espe­cially over the last 3 – 4 years.”

And influ­en­cer mar­ket­ing is excit­ing to explore. 

So, I’ve talked about cat­egor­ising influ­en­cers, why tar­get­ing the magic middle for ambas­sad­or­ship is cru­cial, and why you should always do a hon­ey­moon out­reach.

But wait. What about the influ­en­cers them­selves?
Well, they don’t seem to be entirely done just yet.

Late Bloomers of Monetisation

Online influ­en­cers aren’t a new phe­nomen­on by any stretch of the ima­gin­a­tion. The top plat­forms have shif­ted over the last dec­ades, but new influ­en­cers emerge wherever there’s an audi­ence.

But while influ­en­cers have been early to crash every new online party, they’ve been rather late bloom­ers regard­ing monetisation. 

As the Hippie Web died in 2012 and got replaced by the Money Web, few influ­en­cers made it work for them­selves. Working with influ­en­cers was often pain­ful; many were still unfa­mil­i­ar with busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als. 1There were excep­tions, primar­ily blog­gers, who suc­cess­fully closed advert­ising deals but were also fight­ing against being replaced by YouTubers and Instagrammers.

However, around 2017, many influ­en­cers quickly star­ted to get the hang of monetisation.

Besides ad rev­en­ue from social net­works, influ­en­cers star­ted doing big­ger and bet­ter things, espe­cially with brands. Brand col­lab­or­a­tions quickly became a mark­er of online status.

Read also: How To Categorise Influencers: Nano, Micro, Macro, Mega

Why did this hap­pen in 2017 and not sooner?

This leap into mon­et­isa­tion seems to have been driv­en primar­ily by new technology.

Examples: Influencer Monetisation Technology

Influencers are now movers and shakers in the mar­ket­place; they get record deals, luc­rat­ive tele­vi­sion con­tracts, and typ­ic­ally a volume of free pub­li­city that most brands would kill for.

However, it’s not just about ad rev­en­ue and brand col­lab­or­a­tions anymore.

Influencers have a com­pre­hens­ive under­stand­ing of their audi­ences, con­tent pref­er­ences, and buy­ing powers.

Many ser­vices (like Patreon, OnlyFans, etc.) allow influ­en­cers to set up their premi­um com­munity of sub­scribers. Influencers can quickly sell their products via their web­sites (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.) with integ­rated pay­ment methods. 

Also, tons of spe­cial­ised ser­vices allow influ­en­cers to sell everything from merch to prints.

An influ­en­cer today often has many dif­fer­ent streams of income. Still, less than eight years ago, when the web shif­ted into a haven of cap­it­al­ist dynam­ics, no one didn’t even invent most of these mon­et­isa­tion technologies.

Influencer marketing - Bianca Ingrosso website
Bianca Ingrosso is per­haps Sweden’s most fin­an­cially for­ward influencer.

Will these emer­ging influ­en­cer-driv­en brands stop at FMCG (fast-mov­ing con­sumer goods)? Or will this phe­nomen­on start to become more notice­able also in oth­er industries?

Influencer Marketing is Changing

Since the advent of fash­ion blog­ging, influ­en­cer mar­ket­ing has been a fas­cin­at­ing oppor­tun­ity for FMCG brands to explore.

However, I don’t think many oth­er types of busi­nesses are wait­ing in line to exper­i­ence what it is like to see your products or ser­vices swoosh off the “shelves” after an influ­en­cer collaboration.

Because influ­en­cer mar­ket­ing is up for its next phase, it seems to be com­ing fast.

What’s quickly hap­pen­ing is that influ­en­cers are learn­ing about busi­ness. And they’re learn­ing that selling their products is bet­ter than someone else’s.

Influencers are learn­ing that they prefer to pro­mote their brands. Not only because they can get a more sig­ni­fic­ant piece of the cake but because it’s easi­er for them to make con­tent nat­ur­ally around their merch.

In short: Influencers are now launch­ing their busi­nesses and their brands.

And they’ve already begun to turn down third-party col­lab­or­a­tions to focus on their busi­ness ventures.

Imagine a mar­ket­place where some brands pay top dol­lar for mar­ket­ing — no one cares. 

While some brands, brought to life by influ­en­cers, are get­ting tons of recog­ni­tion for everything they do or say — and they’re not even pay­ing for exposure.

As a brand needs to reach cus­tom­ers some­how, it begs the ques­tion, will this matter?

Could an Influencer Put You Out of Business?

When we talk about influ­en­cer mar­ket­ing — do we mean:

a) busi­nesses col­lab­or­at­ing with influ­en­cers to mar­ket products and ser­vices, or
b) influ­en­cers’ vari­ous meth­ods to mar­ket their products and services?

See the shift right there?
Then, which one are we talk­ing about?

I ought to know. But I’m not sure anymore.

In the next couple of years, many heads of mar­ket­ing- and com­mu­nic­a­tions, I think, will struggle to find ways of actu­ally reach­ing their cus­tom­ers. Not due to lack of mar­ket­ing budgets, but due to lack of sol­id options:

  • Programmatic advert­ising is brim­ming with fraud and shows signs of creepiness.
  • Google is push­ing down SEO and con­tent mar­ket­ing, and keyword com­pet­i­tion is rough.
  • Inbound mar­ket­ing was a fant­ast­ic oppor­tun­ity in 2015, but it isn’t much of a secret.
  • Media rela­tions are a chal­lenge as tra­di­tion­al news is fight­ing what seems to be a los­ing battle against digit­al transformation.

Short-term, many brands will have a hard time sens­ibly reach­ing their cus­tom­ers. Long-term, many brands might encounter fierce com­pet­i­tion from influ­en­cer brands with massive audi­ences that are highly engaged and forceful.

Influencer-Driven Competition

What can we expect as influ­en­cers move into more and more fields of commerce? 

With online mar­ket­ing becom­ing increas­ingly import­ant daily, many brands might soon find them­selves squeezed between influ­en­cer brands on one side and tech giants, who are too big to fail on the other. 

One side dom­in­ates the algorithms.
The oth­er side owns the algorithms.

And neither of these two sides is on your side.

Moving for­ward, busi­nesses should con­sider what it means to com­pete with influ­en­cers that don’t have to pay for their reach.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: Different Types of Influencer Marketing

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Influencer Marketing vs Influencer Relations

There are two main types of influ­en­cer mar­ket­ing and two main types of influ­en­cer relations:

Influencer Marketing

Influencer advert­ising = the influ­en­cer will pub­lish the brand’s pre-made con­tent in their channels.

Influencer spon­sor­ship = the influ­en­cer will read a script to con­vey an offer­ing fol­low­ing the brand’s instructions.

Influencer Relations

Influencer col­lab­or­a­tion = the influ­en­cer show­cases the brand’s offer­ing by cre­at­ing con­tent sim­il­ar to the influ­en­cer­’s reg­u­lar content.

Influencer out­reach = the influ­en­cer receives invit­a­tions, demos, or exclus­ive mater­i­al without strings attached.

Advertising and spon­sor­ships are what we typ­ic­ally refer to as influ­en­cer mar­ket­ing. Collaborations and out­reach are typ­ic­ally referred to as influ­en­cer rela­tions.

Organisations look­ing to util­ise the poten­tial reach of rel­ev­ant influ­en­cers will be wise to pay atten­tion to these dis­tinc­tions. 2Silfwer, J. (2020, January 15). The Influencers in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​i​n​f​l​u​e​n​c​e​r​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/

Learn more: Influencer Relations Is Not Influencer Marketing

Logo - Spin Academy - Online PR Courses
1 There were excep­tions, primar­ily blog­gers, who suc­cess­fully closed advert­ising deals but were also fight­ing against being replaced by YouTubers and Instagrammers.
2 Silfwer, J. (2020, January 15). The Influencers in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​i​n​f​l​u​e​n​c​e​r​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has



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