What is the Difference Between Influencers and Media?
August 30, 2023
As we all know, a successful business model includes a strong and multifaceted marketing strategy. When we talk with clients there is often confusion about different types of marketing efforts, and their relative value and purpose. The most common misconceptions clients communicate have to do with influencers and media. For that reason, we’ve put together some valuable information to help clear things up.
Let’s start from the beginning.
What is marketing media?
Media in marketing is broken down into four parts: owned, shared, paid, and earned. These parts are not mutually exclusive. A comprehensive marketing strategy will encompass a combination to meet specific campaign objectives.
Owned media is paid for, owned, and distributed by you. This includes business assets such as your website, blogs, white papers, case studies, brochures, signage, email, newsletters, staff uniforms, company vehicle markers, other promotional materials and so on. Owned media is considered an investment in business and is best kept evergreen.
Shared media is paid by you, owned by a third party, and distributed by you. It encompasses social networks and Brand Channels like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, et. al. While most networks are free, they should not be taken lightly. Social media is said to influence some of the most intimate of consumer decisions and most of them have come under fire for unethically manipulating both network control and reach.
We like social media because it offers channel diversity for your customer and further strengthens that bond and more broadly your brand presence when you’re able to meet your customers where they are.
Some consider “shared media” as “owned media” but in the recent past, we’ve seen companies involved in controversial industries lose Brand Channels despite massive following.
Paid media is paid by you and owned and distributed by a third party. Commonly referred to as advertising, this includes any media you pay for on various mediums such as; billboards, radio, print, video, and banner ads. Other paid media might include product placement, sponsorship, teleshopping, and affiliate networking.
Paid media is attractive because it is the most direct path to get your products and offerings in front of customers. Digital giants like Google and Facebook have become experts at reaching targeted demographics. They’ve made it their business on making quality connections between advertisers and consumers.
Earned media is considered the most esteemed media and usually falls under public relations. You can’t purchase good earned media; it is voluntarily given. This includes media you are not directly responsible for, such as news coverage, broadcasts, press releases, radio talk show mentions, magazines, digital and print publications, ratings, reviews, word of mouth, referrals, and endorsements.
These types of media coverage are accomplished through any reputable media outlet. It’s verifiable and consistent. For this reason, coverage is of extremely high value.
There’s a segment of industry professionals that will call any combination of the above media types “Convergence Media”. Due to the complexity in variables and highly specific nature of convergence media we aren’t going to dive too deeply into this type of media.
A great example of convergence media is to do with influencers. Depending on the influencer, there might be an unspecified combination of paid, earned, shared, and owned media, to meet specific objectives or contract terms. While it’s impossible to clearly define convergence media, it’s important that you know it exists and that it is not in itself actually a type of media.
Who are influencers?
An influencer can be defined as any person with a measurable influence over a substantial audience that is typically identified by industry focus. This is a broad definition that might include political lobbyists, activists, market analysts, journalists, editors, authors, bloggers, thought leaders, public speakers, comedians, athletes, musicians, celebrities, reality TV stars, models, entrepreneurs and niche industry experts.
Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. They are best categorized by the size of their following, how they achieved it, and whether or not they are monetizing it.
Celebrity – 5M+ Following
Celebrity influencers extend brand reach exponentially with 5 Million+ active followers. Think of A-list celebs such as Adam Sandler, LeBron James, or Elon Musk. These influencers are household names, and because of that many have leveraged their reach to grow their own Brand Channels. Some excellent example of this is Jessica Alba’s all-natural product line, Honest Company. These stars can cost, on average, in the neighborhood of $1 million dollars for a single social media post.
Mega Influencers – 1M -5M Followers
Mega Influencers are content creating machines that usually have a team of people helping to manage their channels. These influencers have refined their personal branding and are capable of earning a noteworthy income from their influencer status and may or may not already be considered B-list celebs on the red carpet. These influencers make an estimated $50k per post.
Macro Influencers – 500K – 1M Followers
The Macro influencer category is loaded with social media stars that earned their claim to fame by generating shareable content. They are almost certainly monetizing their following and looking to move onto the next level. This tier can make six-figures and consist of a montage of influencer types, niches, and personalities. These influencers are estimated to make an average of $15k per post.
Mid-Tier – 50K – 500K Followers
Mid-Tier influencers are working hard to engage and grow their target audience. They are the bread and butter of the influencer world driving the highest ROI for brand and channel partners. Maybe that’s because mid-tier influencers are likely working hard to increase their influencer revenue which can average $5k per post.
Micro Influencers – 10K – 50K Followers
These influencers aren’t usually getting photographed in the supermarket and may not be a universally recognized authority in their market, but they pack a healthy punch and know their value. With a loyal and dedicated following we see many micro influencers helping brands bring products to market. Micro influencers have earned the trust of their audience over time and are likely monetizing their following as they can earn up to $5k per post.
Nano Influencers – 1K – 10K Followers
If nano influencers have a notable reach but have not likely clearly defined their influence. They are usually looking to monetize, which for obvious reasons, and can make up to $1,500 per post depending on a variety of other factors such as niche, platform, and the personality of the influencer. These are the influencers to watch, you likely have a few in your own network.
Now that we understand what marketing media consist of and who influencers are, we can clear the air we can dissuade confusion.
Key differences between influencers and media
Media is content. Whether it’s physical, digital, word-of-mouth, or ad copy – it’s content that requires distribution channel to reach an audience.
Influencers are individuals (usually people, but sometimes animals). Brand Channels are frequently mistaken as influencers. It might be tempting to think of the New York Times or Facebook as an “influencer” the reality is, they are media outlets that allow their users to create brand channels.
A key point to remember is that while you may produce media for specific Brand Channels, media outlets, or influencers, the media itself, does not embody a single distribution channel. A perfect example of this would be a cross-channel marketing campaign to promote an instore sale. That campaign would likely produce a combination of media, such as: flyers, emails, social media posts, influencer video requests, and pay-per-click ads. All the marketing deliverables in this scenario are types of media with varied methods of distribution.
Components and Purpose of Public Relations
Our clients visualize their success daily. They utilize our marketing expertise as their vehicle of choice to help get them to the finish line. If we think of various marketing media initiatives and influencer engagement models we deploy as drivers of success for that vehicle, we recognize that some drivers maneuver the road more gracefully than others, while some put the pedal to the metal but at the cost of the car. We notice that a few might have impeccable night vision, and maybe a even let you roll the windows down to take in the view.
Now, I want you think specifically about public relations. In this scenario, PR is the road your traveling on and your customers are the landscape on which that road exist. It controls, monitors, and guides brand messages across multiple channels, ultimately paving the way for customers to interact with your brand.
The climate of public relations offers unique and sometimes unexpected challenges. It heavily impacts brand viability and can dramatically increase awareness of leadership and your company. The purpose of PR is to maintain, enhance, or adapt a company’s public image based on deliberate objectives in support of your brand schema.
Without public relations, it would be impossible to unify brand messages regardless of the amount of money paid to influencers or third-party advertisers. That’s precisely why PR experts are the people brands turn to when facing negative publicity. Hopefully this helps clarify a few things, for a few people.
“The outside perception and inside perception of Microsoft are so different. The view of Microsoft inside Microsoft is always kind of an underdog thing.” Bill Gates