Home Online Business Blog The Power of Influencer Marketing: Collaboration, Brand Awareness and Authenticity

The Power of Influencer Marketing: Collaboration, Brand Awareness and Authenticity

18 Feb
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Brands have always relied on influential people to advertise their products. Early influencers were celebrities, and they endorsed products as part of large advertising campaigns designed to have mass appeal. While brands still incorporate celebrities into their marketing efforts, many have turned to social media influencers to engage with their audience in a more authentic and targeted manner.1 Influencer marketing is so effective that its global value reached $21.1 billion in 2023.2

Social media influencers post on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. They aren’t as famous as celebrities, but they often have a large, loyal following who trust them. Influencer marketing has higher engagement rates and costs less than traditional marketing. Influencers understand their audience and can create genuine content with a high degree of credibility.1

This article will explain how influencer marketing can drive brand growth, awareness and authenticity.

Collaborative Brand Partnerships

In traditional advertising, a marketing department or agency will create a campaign and distribute it across marketing channels such as television, magazines or social media. With influencer marketing, content collaboration is a partnership between a company and someone with an engaged following. The influencer works with the brand to develop a campaign that blends the values of both. 3

Influencers have an established method of creating content that resonates with their audience. Businesses can leverage the influencer’s authenticity and audience engagement to increase their brand awareness and reach a wider audience.3

Identifying the Right Influencers

Influencers gain a following because they’re recognized as authorities in their niche. They’re called influencers because their content influences people to do or buy something. When brands partner with an influencer whose audience overlaps with theirs, they know they’re reaching the right consumers with their message.4

Influencer Outreach and Niche Alignment

Trust in influencers is growing—up to 61% in 2023 from 51% in 2019.5 However, it’s crucial to find an influencer who’s a good match for your brand. As with any type of marketing, you have to know your target audience, including what social media platforms they use most often. You’ll get the most value for your investment by finding an influencer who speaks to your ideal customers.4

A niche is a specialized market segment that targets particular customers. Niches can include markets such as health and wellness, beauty, men’s clothing, gaming or travel. The right influencer will be active in a niche that appeals to your customers. When choosing one, analyze your target audience. This can include the interests, priorities and demographics of your intended audience. Keywords and hashtags can reveal influencers who are active in your niche.6

Influencer Research

When you’re researching influencers, look for those who share your values. Unlike celebrities, influencers are likely to be viewed as friends by their followers. Influencer marketing works best when it’s an ongoing, long-term relationship. Do your due diligence by checking their post history to ensure they’ll be good ambassadors for your brand.

Once you’ve identified influencers in your niche who share your brand values, the next step is to evaluate their reach. Some influencers have a lot of followers but don’t engage them effectively. You can determine an influencer’s engagement rate by examining the interaction on their posts. Choose a post, add up the number of likes and comments, divide this number by their total number of followers and multiply by 100. Do this for multiple posts to get a clear idea of their engagement rate over time.7 Many marketers consider an engagement rate between one and five percent good.8

You can run successful marketing campaigns with influencers who have a range of follower counts. Micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers, while mega-influencers have over one million followers. Although engagement rate is important when choosing an influencer for future campaigns, most will charge based on the number of followers they have.4

Types of Influencer Collaborations

Influencer marketing covers many different types of collaborations. You may want to start with a simple, one-time collaboration before you commit to a long-term partnership. Some of the most popular types of collaborations include the following:9

  • Sponsored posts, where you pay an influencer to create a post
  • Brand advocacy, where an influencer works as an ambassador for your brand over a longer-term
  • Influencer gifting, where you provide a free product in exchange for an honest review
  • Affiliate marketing, where an influencer gives their audience a discount code for your product or service
  • Giveaways, where you provide a product for an influencer to give away to their audience

Let’s look at some of these a bit closer through the overall lens of influencer marketing campaigns.

Influencer Marketing Campaigns Via Social Media Platforms

As consumers seek authentic experiences and relatable recommendations, tapping into the persuasive power of individuals with a solid online presence is an indispensable asset. While effective on their own, each of these influencer marketing elements can achieve a higher level of efficacy when integrated into a coherent, strategic campaign, often executed via social media platforms where the influencer and their audiences are most active.

The choice of strategy should reflect the brand’s goals, messaging and the idiosyncrasies of the target audience. By harmonizing these tactics—the personal recommendation of a sponsored post, the authenticity of brand advocacy, the genuine quality of influencer gifting, the incentivizing nature of affiliate marketing, and the communal excitement of giveaways—your influencer campaign then becomes not just a tapestry of techniques, but a resonant story that professionals looking to grow their careers can see themselves within.

Sponsored Posts

A sponsored post is a paid opportunity to collaborate with an influencer to create content showcasing your business or product. This arrangement offers a myriad of creative freedom and liberties to the influencer, allowing them to fuse their unique voice with the essence of your offering. With textual and visual narratives tailored to their audience, these posts can humanize your brand and make your graduate programs relatable. The key is to select influencers whose followers align with your target customers and make sure that your investment has the potential to convert interest into sales.

Brand Advocacy

Brand advocacy transcends the occasional shout-out. You forge an authentic partnership by establishing long-term relationships with influencers who resonate with your brand’s values. These advocates become the face and voice of your business, familiarizing their audience with the brand through consistent engagement. Their sustained endorsement acts as a seal of trust to increase brand awareness and create a narrative that attracts customers and retains them throughout their decision-making journey.

Influencer Gifting

Influencer gifting is a strategy rooted in experience. By offering your product, you invite influencers to become customers of your brand. The resultant content is an organic review that resonates with sincerity. Honest feedback increases credibility and provides insight into the influencer’s experience that could enhance your company's appeal to prospective customers.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing adds a performance-driven dimension to successful influencer marketing and collaborations. Equipping influencers with a custom discount code for your goods or business gives them the tool to offer tangible value to their audience. This strategy, while incentivizing sales or engagement through savings, simultaneously rewards the influencer for successful conversions. It’s a symbiotic relationship that balances benefit and compensation, tracking impact through transparent engagement metrics.


Hosting giveaways with influencers ushers in a sense of excitement, involvement and potential reward for the audience. Whether it’s free items, money or an experience, giveaways can generate buzz and prompt engagement from an audience. They create an opportunity for mass exposure and bring vibrant attention to your brand while establishing a giveaway model that reinforces the community spirit.

Measuring ROI and Impact

Before you can measure the return on investment (ROI) of your influencer marketing campaign, you need to know what you want to achieve. Determine what your goals are and what key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to measure them. Examples of metrics include impressions, conversions and clicks.10

The ROI is the ratio of benefits compared to costs. The benefits aren’t necessarily monetary. They might include increased brand awareness, customer engagement, website traffic or sales. Although the benefits might not be monetary, you’ll need to assign a monetary value to them. This provides a basis for your calculations. The official formula is (Value of Benefits) - (Costs)/(Costs) x 100.10

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Influencer marketing has quickly become an industry-standard marketing practice. It allows marketers to reach their audience on platforms where they’re already engaged. William & Mary’s Online Master’s in Marketing will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to become a leader in marketing, including how to partner with influencers to create campaigns that resonate. Our comprehensive curriculum is taught by industry experts. You’ll learn how to develop and optimize high-value campaigns and experiment with new methods in marketing.

Want a free taste of our online curriculum? Participation marketing is another effective strategy to implement on social media. Learn how to effectively incorporate participation into your next marketing campaign with the on-demand micro-course, “Participation Marketing Strategy: Trends to Incorporate in 2023 and Beyond.” Access the free micro-course today.

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