The three tiers of Influence Marketing

Experts from across the globe predicted that Influencer Marketing would explode in 2017. They weren’t wrong. In 2015 84% of marketers had planned to run at least one influencer-led activation within the twelve months ahead and last year budgets increased by 60%.

the three tiers of Influencer Marketing

As a discipline it is here to stay, so it was surprising to read Forbes Magazine describing it as “the grey territory between an official testimonial and a subtle product mention, which is done almost in passing”. More baffling still is the plethora of terms used to define the different kind of influence; does a micro-influencer have up to 10,000 followers or over 100,000? What is micro-influence anyway?! To help navigate these murky, yet infinitely rewarding waters we’ve shared our take on the three tiers of influence, and which one our money’s on.


Not to be confused with celebrity endorsements, though increasingly considered celebrities in their own right. ‘Influencers’ command audiences in the hundreds of thousands across their channels. Defined by their huge following, mass reach is a key benefit to brands partnering with Influencers. However, the audience is loyal to the Influencer, not necessarily the brands they collaborate with and a recent study conducted by Forrester revealed that only 18% of consumers actually trust content created by Influencers. As with all mass advertising, reach-on-target cannot be guaranteed.


Defined by Keller and Faye as ‘neither celebrities, nor social media stars, but people within different categories who are knowledgeable, passionate and authentic, and because of this seen as trusted sources for purchase recommendations.’

Typically their audience falls under the 10k mark, yet what they lack in reach, they make up for in engagement, often seeing like rates of 4% on Instagram alone, almost double that seen for Influencers with a following of up to 100k. Micro-influencers are seen to be specialist in their particular area; think beauty bloggers recommending a new foundation, or a nutritionist a newly discovered superfood and this relevance enables them to establish a high level of trust within their follower base.

Real-life Influencer

Now to the third tier of influence; the Real-Life Influencer – also known as friend, colleague, parent, sibling, neighbour and most importantly – your existing consumer. These people are the hand raisers, the people that make it their business to be in the know. They have genuine passion for the brand or category and are motivated to spread the word by a real desire to share their experiences and add value to the lives of people around them. They’re never paid; they do it for the love.

Compared to the reach of influencers, or even micro-influencers their circle of influence is much smaller – approximately 200-300 per person. However Real-life Influencers win on both relevance and resonance. Plus their authentic, peer-to-peer recommendations pack a punch; they’re trusted by 92% of consumers and can drive up to 100x more sales impact than a paid media impression.

Although word of mouth is the oldest trick in the proverbial book, these people represent the future in influencer marketing. They’re the gatekeeper to the heart of the brand experience in real time, whether it happens at the breakfast table or over a coffee at work. Brands just need to figure out how to be invited in. Here, we can help.

If you want to know more then get in touch. Let us work with you to unlock the power of your consumers?

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