This or That: Influencer Marketing vs Digital Marketing

Influencers…some love them, some mock them, but all of us follow them.

In today’s digital age, it’s hard to escape the world of influencer marketing. Scroll down your feed and you’ll quickly be met with images of mouthwatering food, adorable pups, and at least one influencer posting a life update, Pinterest worthy outfit, or envy-inducing travel photo. 

Influencers aren’t going away any time soon, so as marketers, it’s our job to use them to our advantage.

The question for marketers is this:

What is influencer marketing, how does it compare to digital marketing, and how do you decide which is best for your brand’s strategy? 

We’re here to help.

What is influencer marketing?

Like the name suggests, influencer marketing is all about influence — taking the more traditional concept of celebrity advocacy and combining it with the modern world of social media. Influencers have built a reputation for their knowledge on a certain topic, and they have a dedicated following that engages with and pays close attention to their posts.

Influencer marketing is a form of collaboration that occurs when brands partner with influencers to promote a product, service, or campaign. This form of marketing works because influencers have sway over your target audience, as their followers already trust them and look to them for recommendations.

Once you find an influencer that shares relevant content and seems like a good fit for your brand, you must then convince them to work with you. This is often done by gifting your product or service, or sponsoring them to use their platform to talk about your brand.

Influencer Marketing Can Help Your Brand…

Increase brand reach

Essentially, influencers provide a connecting point between a brand and its target audience. These individuals have amassed a following that engages with their content and trusts their opinions. Therefore, partnering with influencers gives you access to an audience that you might not be able to reach otherwise. 

Be less disruptive

We’ve all been there: we’re trying to enjoy our daily social media scroll, when suddenly a blaringly obvious sponsored post appears in our feed. (Yes, even marketers can admit that ads can be intrusive on the user experience.)

Influencer marketing places ads within organic content, making it much more discrete. The consumer has already chosen to follow this influencer, which gives brands the opportunity to meet consumers where they already are in a more genuine and authentic way. 

Related: How to Make Instagram Work for Your B2B Marketing Strategy

Simplify content creation

When you partner with an influencer, it’s up to them to create the content (with your approval, of course). Let your brand’s creative team sit back, relax, and wait for the results to come pouring in. Okay, it might not be that easy, but working with an influencer does simplify content creation.

Influencers have worked hard to create their personal brand, and they’ll want to create original content that’s in line with what they normally post. The influencer already knows their audience and what it responds to, so you can get results without having to create an entire campaign from scratch.

Not in love with your current social media campaign? It may be time to break up — and here’s how to do it

Boost SEO

It’s true — more mentions and links on social media can play a role in boosting your organic rankings! Posting about your brand or product will increase awareness, but strong engagement and creating conversations is what gets the attention of the search engines.

In short, the more brand awareness you can produce, the more search engines will pay attention to you. And, if you have a strong site and quality content to match, it’s likely that search engines will want to put your content even higher on the SERPs. It’s a win-win. 

What is digital marketing?

Now that we’ve unpacked influencer marketing, it’s time to break down a concept you might be more familiar with: digital marketing. Thanks to the rise of social media, digital marketing is more popular and crucial than ever before.

Consisting of both organic and paid content, digital marketing primarily refers to brands using their own platforms to promote themselves, reach their target audience, and engage with current or potential customers

Digital Marketing Can Help Your Brand…

Increase brand credibility

Whether you like it or not, customers are using your digital footprint to learn more about your brand. It’s the marketing equivalent to stalking a potential partner before a first date. Having a strong digital presence gives your brand credibility and helps customers see your brand as a resource they can trust.

Improve customer relationships

Digital marketing creates a unique opportunity for brands to personally engage with customers like never before. Rather than solely relying on an influencer, you can take matters into your own hands and spark the engagement yourself. This humanizes your brand by giving it a voice, and helps establish trust and loyalty among customers as a result. 

Stand out from its competitors

Unique content makes your brand stand out. Done right, digital marketing helps differentiate your brand from competitors, encourages customers to engage on a more personal level, and gives your brand a personality. Knowing your target audience will help you decide what content will be most relevant and valuable to them. 

Related: Why You Should Monitor Your Competitor’s Strategy

Generate web traffic 

At the end of the day, digital marketing is more than just likes and followers — it’s about adding value and driving customers to take action. Unique content that follows SEO guidelines will generate web traffic and help steer new customers in the direction of your brand. 

So, which is best? 

Great content is the foundation for successful marketing, and both influencer and digital marketing are viable strategies with the power to help your brand succeed. The simple answer is to achieve balance by implementing both when it makes sense for your brand. 

New brands should first make an effort to establish their digital presence and create content that can later be used to attract key influencers and their audiences. Meanwhile, more established brands should be seeking out influencers within their industries that align with the brand and the audience they’re trying to reach. 

If social media is where you’re looking to take your brand or business’ marketing efforts, our Social Media Handbook is designed to teach you how easy and effective generating leads on social media can be. 

This content was originally published on July 9, 2018 and was refreshed on November 11, 2020.