What is Influential Marketing? Going Beyond Traditional Ads to Make an Impact

Jan 06, 2023
What is Influential Marketing? Going Beyond Traditional Ads to Make an Impact

In an age where we’re bombarded with ads for everything that we might possibly want to buy, it’s not uncommon for consumers to experience ad fatigue. We may scroll through our Twitter feeds or our Instagram Stories, lethargically skipping through ads that brands spent thousands of dollars to create. As a result, brands have resorted to alternative methods to get the attention of an ad-weary consumer base, with influential marketing being a key solution.

So, what is influential marketing exactly? And what makes it such an effective option for brands today? In this guide, we help you explore the topic in detail so you can start leveraging it for your own marketing strategy. Let’s dive in.

What is Influential Marketing?

Influential marketing refers to the process of marketing your products with the help of influential personalities. These can be anyone from celebrities to social media influencers to everyday consumers to even other brands. The important thing is that they must have some type of influence over the opinions and purchase decisions of your target audience. 

The goal of influential marketing is to get the brand or product in front of an audience that’s likely to be interested in it. It involves influential personalities promoting the brand or product through product placements, reviews, sponsorships, informative content, partnerships, publicity stunts, and other creative promotions. 

Media/channels used in influential marketing

The media or channels used in influential marketing are expansive and can vary for each brand. At one point, blogs were the channel that led to the explosive growth of influential marketing as we see it today. Fashion bloggers and travel bloggers were all the rage during the mid-2000s. However, channel preferences evolve with new platforms and media formats taking center stage.

More recently, social media platforms and YouTube videos have become the popular choice for most marketers as consumers move on from consuming long-form blog content to shorter, more visual-based content. So, you’d often see social media influencers and YouTubers helping to promote a multitude of brands and products through their content. 

Additionally, many marketers still employ conventional media such as television, radio, and direct mail to execute their influential marketing strategy. This would typically involve featuring familiar faces and contemporary influencers in their television ads or direct mail campaigns. Sometimes, brands will also invite influential personalities to events to boost attendance or build a buzz around an upcoming launch.

Influencer Marketing vs. Influential Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Now you may be wondering what makes influential marketing different from influencer marketing. Looking at the definition, the two terms aren’t all that different and is often used interchangeably. 

However, if we try to break it down, influential marketing can be considered as a broader term since it encompasses partnerships with other influential personalities beyond traditional social media influencers and YouTubers. This can be everyday consumers, subject matter experts, industry practitioners, leading news publications, or even other brands. Meanwhile, influencer marketing typically focuses on partnerships with social media users and content creators who are categorized as influencers. 

The Key Step: Identifying the Influential

With this key difference considered, we can begin to understand that identifying the right partners is crucial to make your influential marketing strategy work. This step is particularly important because you have such an expansive range of options to choose from. 

Unlike regular influencer marketing, the types of influentials you can work with aren’t just categorized by size. Instead, you have a range of influencers categorized by a variety of factors including their role in your business and their expertise. Similarly, factors like reach and following size aren’t as important as relevance and authenticity. Consider the following categories of influencers in your influential marketing strategy.

Social media influential influencers

Influencers like the ones you see on social media may easily be the most popularly known category. These are mostly content creators who have amassed a significant following on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. People follow them for their interesting, entertaining, or sometimes informative content. 

In many cases, social media influential influencers also have expertise in their chosen niche–whether it’s food, fashion, fitness, technology, sports, or home decor. However, some of them aren’t necessarily experts but are deeply passionate about the topic. As a result, people look to them for advice and inspiration on what to buy next.

Industry practitioners

These are typically professionals who work in a specific industry and have garnered some influence due to their expertise. They’re subject matter experts who regularly share their opinions and insights into the industry. 

There’s some overlap with this category and the first because many of these industry practitioners also have a social media presence. So, you may find marketing professionals and SEO experts commanding a significant following on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. The main difference is that their influence extends beyond these social media platforms.


Influential marketing makes use of people who have actual influence on the audience that matters. This includes people such as your employees since they’re likely to be considered as a trustworthy source of information due to the inside view they have into your brand. Their friends, family, and connections may look to them for honest advice and recommendations because of their unique position. 

As such, employee advocacy programs could be a vital element in your influential marketing strategy. Consider getting employees to share your content, recommend the right products, give customers a tour, and interact with your audience to build a strong brand community.


In influential marketing, your own customers can become a vital resource. After all, who better to look to for recommendations than someone who’s already used your products? Since they’ve had experience with your brand, they could be a trustworthy source of information on the quality of products and services you offer. 

Your customers can be the influencers in this scenario, helping to influence the purchase decisions of their fellow consumers. This could be through reviews, testimonials, and social media posts. Even if they don’t necessarily have a massive social media following, whatever influence they have is authentic and relatable, which makes it highly impactful.

News publications

Brands can also leverage leading news publications in their influential marketing campaigns. This may involve working with a publication to create informative or promotional content that features or focuses on your product. The content can be a review or a comparison guide that helps readers make an informed decision. It can also be an in-depth exploratory piece that introduces them to your brand.

Either way, this type of partnership can work very well for industries in which consumers like to stay informed and research their options. For instance, tech brands could leverage publications such as CNET or TechRadar.

Complementary brands

Now this is something that’s highly unique to influential marketing. It involves partnering with a complementary brand to expand your reach and tap into each other’s audience base. You could team up to create product bundle offers, host events, or even develop new products and collections. 

The key here is to find a brand with an offering that complements yours rather than compete with it. For example, a fitness equipment brand partnering with an athleticwear brand would be perfect. Similarly, ColourPop teaming up with Fourth Ray for its Avatar: The Last Airbender collection is also an excellent example. 

Best Practices to Win at Influential Marketing

Now that we have the key step covered, it’s time to put your influential marketing strategy into action. Here are a few best practices to help you get a strong start.

1. Prioritize resonance over reach

During the early days of influencer marketing, reach was everything. Brands rushed to work with influencers that had millions of followers so they could have the most impact. However, reach is no longer the sole factor that determines how good an influencer is, especially when it comes to influential marketing.

Instead, it’s important to look at resonance–how much of an impact does the influencer really have on your target audience? In addition to engagement rate, you’ll need to study the conversations that are taking place within each influencer’s community. What are their followers saying and how is the influencer interacting with them?

For example, you might want to see if their followers are asking them for product recommendations. Or you can check to see whether people felt inspired by the influencer’s content.

The following  influential influencer, for instance, has only about 6,000 followers. But if you look at the comments on her posts, you can find plenty of people getting inspired by her outfits. Some have even asked questions about where to find specific items featured in her photos.

By closely examining an influencer’s community, you can get a better sense of how their content is resonating with the audience. This is essential if you want a partnership in which the influencer has true influence on their audience. 

2. Build lasting relationships

With any influential marketing campaign, authenticity plays a huge role in how the audience perceives the partnership. The  influential influencer’s opinion has to come off as authentic and relatable to win the trust of your audience. More often than not, your relationship with the influencer is what determines the quality of your partnership.

It’s crucial that you build a strong and lasting relationship with the “influentials” you partner with. When you focus on building a relationship, the influencer will feel a deeper connection with your brand, which will also show in the way they talk about your product. Any praises will come across as more authentic, making it easier for the audience to trust your brand.

Moreover, when you have a strong relationship with the influencer, it also leaves them more open to potential partnerships in the future. Even if your campaign is just a one-off thing, you have a better chance of working with the influencers again later on.

3. Get creative with your partnerships

Don’t just limit yourself to reviews and product placements or even just social media influencers. Influential marketing gives you the freedom to get creative with your partnerships. As mentioned earlier, you can even work with other brands that will help you expand your reach. Whether that involves creating bundle offers or developing a new co-branded product depends on your goal.

For IBM, the goal was to contribute toward a more diverse future. Partnering with an organization like Black Girls CODE was the perfect solution.

4. Leverage new social media features

With social media platforms constantly evolving, you have plenty of features at your disposal to generate a bigger impact with your influential marketing campaigns. You can leverage features like Instagram Collabs and branded AR filters to take your influential marketing to a whole new level.

For example, you can create a Collabs post with an influencer so the post will show up organically in both of your feeds. This allows you to instantly tap into the influencer’s audience while simultaneously boosting your engagement rate.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand how impactful influential marketing can be, it’s time to leverage it for your own brand. Follow the best practices and ideas highlighted above to get started with influential marketing.

Source: influencermarketinghub