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Inspired Marketing: The Versatility and Impact of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is an important and rapidly growing activity that is benefitting brands and businesses around the globe – including the promotional products industry. During the pandemic, influencer marketing skyrocketed, and it is expected to grow to more than $21B this year. As promo industry professionals, we need to understand the trends.

For context, the Advertising Speciality Institute (ASI) defines influencer marketing as, “A marketing practice in which brands partner with individuals who have strong influence over audiences/prospects the brands want to reach.”

The 2023 Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, developed by Influencer Marketing Hub, presents insights from more than 3,500 marketing agencies, brands, and other relevant professionals related to the current and future states of influencer marketing. Interestingly, more than 83% of survey respondents believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing; 71% have increased the amount of content they produce and share; and 67% of those intend to increase their 2024 influencer marketing budget over 2023.

Two of the report’s findings feel especially relevant to promo.

  • Sixty-three percent of respondents plan to use AI in executing their influencer campaigns. AI solves influencer marketing challenges in multiple ways, including preventing plagiarism, analyzing audiences, matching the right content to the right audience, and assessing campaign performance. With AI, brands can conduct a deep search to identify an influencer's other brand affinities and online presence and determine the influencer’s relevance and alignment with their brand’s mission and values. Two-thirds of brands that plan to use AI say they use it for influencer identification. While we have more to learn when it comes to AI, there is no question it is here to stay – and it is opening exciting new possibilities to strengthen brands and increase the ROI of influencer marketing, including through sales of more high-quality, innovative merchandise from promotional product manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors.
  • Survey respondents strongly prefer working with small (nano and micro) influencers over macro-influencers and celebrities. The report defines a nano-influencer as one with fewer than 10,000 followers, while a micro-influencer has between 10,000 and 100,000. Nano- and micro-influencers have higher engagement rates than the bigger influencers. PPAI Media’s list of the industry’s best social media organizations and individuals shows that nano- and micro-influencers are prevalent and powerful across promo. They are leveraging social media channels to reinforce their mission, build community, recognize colleagues, share exclusive research and thought leadership, tell stories, announce news … and so much more. 

    At AIA, I’ve seen the impact of a nano-influencer firsthand. Nicole Stachowicz is a sales account executive on our team who fully grasps the connection between social media and sales. Her LinkedIn description includes “cheerleader, go-getter, enthusiastic supporter of entrepreneurs, solution provider, and positive influencer” – all of which describe Nicole perfectly. Her enthusiastic support of the Owners in our AIA Community – coupled with her positive energy and engagement in all things AIA and promo – make her a valuable nano influencer for AIA and a tremendous asset for the promo industry in general. She is an eager learner and an active volunteer who shares her experiences with her followers through photos, advice, and helpful tips. While being an influencer isn’t her primary role at AIA, Nicole is savvy about using social media to keep the conversation going with current and prospective owners. 

Influencer marketing is an impactful and creative way to entertain, educate, and engage your online audience. As it continues to grow and those of us in promo understand its true potential, influencer marketing will elevate promo brands and strengthen our industry.