Everyone and their dogs are talking about influencer marketing, and while it’s no longer the new kid on the block, this marketing approach is still widely misunderstood. If you believe influencer marketing is here to stay — trust me, it is — you need to know what’s fact and what’s fiction about these trending campaigns.

Influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing: fact

In 2018, Lyft set their position as the most mentioned brand (in relation to sponsored posts, highlighted by the inclusion of #paid or #sponsored or #ad), by using a mix of influencer types and campaigns.

Kat Dunn - Lyft Influencer

To maximize reach and drive impressive awareness, Lyft partnered with mega-celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Zayn Malik. They then teamed up with macro influencers like Kat Dunn and Ryan Thomas Woods, to help keep active engagement up. With this influencer strategy, Lyft generated ~5.9 million engagements in 2018.

The best influencers have the biggest reach: fiction

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. What’s more – these consumers don’t discriminate against friends and family with small (or non-existent) social followings. The fact is, consumers trust those closest to them because they register high on the trust and credibility scale. Reach is a non-issue.


While the reach of any given friend or family may be minimal, there is real power in the collective reach of consumers. The Boston Consulting Group has concluded that consumers rely on word-of-mouth 2x to 10x more than paid media. These "micro influencers" can collectively create a macro type result in awareness, engagement, and conversion.

Influencer marketing only happens online: fiction

It's true that tracking impressions, likes, comments, and clicks of online campaigns featuring celebrities and macro influencers is easier than tracking offline conversations from friends and family. But just because offline influencer marketing is harder to measure doesn't mean consumers aren't having conversations about your product outside of the world wide web.

In fact, WOMMA reports that every day in the United States, there are approximately 2.4 billion brand-related conversations happening offline. According to a Berkeley Research Group, more than 90% of retail sales still happen in stores. These customers ask friends, family, co-workers, and store associates for advice on what to buy.

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.

The 2017 Consumer Content Report: Influence in the Digital Age declares that nearly three times as many people say content from friends and family influences their purchase decisions compared to content from celebrities. Just because tracking the efficacy of offline influencer campaigns is extremely difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.

Bringing it all together

As the consumer buying journey continues to evolve, influencer marketing will become a larger part of the marketing mix. It’s crucial for marketers to understand the many facets of influencer marketing and leverage the right tactics for the right purpose.

On one end of the spectrum the celebrities and mega influencers can support top of the funnel marketing, creating positive brand recognition. On the other end, every day consumers support bottom of the funnel marketing, helping their friends and family make better buying decisions.

Read more about the data behind influencer and word of mouth marketing here.