Influencer marketing and celebrity endorsement both use individuals’ popularity to promote products. These two forms of promotion are similar; so much so that sometimes the line between them is blurred. But choosing one strategy over the other can mean a difference between a huge return on investment and none at all.

Celebrity endorsers are defined by who the individuals are; whereas with influencers it's not who they are; but what the individuals do that defines them.This distinction has been blurred by actors with the role of  for example a TV doctor, (Dr. Marcus Wellby MD), wearing doctors’ white coats, to promote the health benefits of products; thus impliedly laying claim to their character’s expertise.

 

Celebrity endorsement

Celebrity endorsement is aspirational marketing; appealing to a celebrity’s fan base. Celebrities wield their appeal and recognition. So celebrity endorsements take advantage of their fame and hope it rubs off on a brand or product.  So that immediate connections aremade with the brand and the person idolised by many consumers leading them to make a purchase. When celebrities sponsor a brand’s product, consumers make a purchase because they idolise the celebrity and want to be like them. They grab the opportunity to own a piece of the celebrity’s lifestyle. 

Irrespective of a celebrity’s expertise in the products promoted. Consumers may well purchase a specific brand’s products solely due to their endorsement by a celebrity they idolise. So if Kim Kardashian endorsed a particular model of car for its road handling; despite always being chauffeur driven herself; this would still drive sales amongst her fan base.

Celebrities just act as messengers to a mass market of consumers.

Their Goal is to reach as many people as possible, celebrities remain distant and aloof. There’s no need for them to have any in depth knowledge or information about their followers interests or the product or brand promoted. Celebrities don’t get involved to a great extent in the how and what they post about a product or brand; it being scripted, produced and distributed by the brand.

 

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing aims to appeal to a community of “people like us”. Consumers believe that the source’s perspective is similar to their own; so actually trust the influencer’s judgment. Rather than people who are idolised, influencers are listened to because they are trusted in their circles. Influencers and bloggers impliedly or expressly claim expertise in the products they promote on the basis that they have tried and tested them.  Influencer marketing thus uses individuals who others look to for advice on products in an area they are seen as being experts in.

Trust in influencers’ is created by their interactions and engagement with their followers; building up a dialogue. Their followers become involved with their content, looking to them not only for inspiration, but also asking for their advice and opinion. Thus they are also able to answer questions informing them about products they sponsor, so in depth knowledge of the brand or product is a must. Influencers target audience is specific and limited; that is to their own current and future followers.

Influencers have a lot of control over their marketing campaign. Their promotions must be a natural fit; otherwise influencers will lose their credibility. Influencers should promote the brand in the way and to the extent that they consider will be best received by their followers. Influencers are free to use their own voice in their posts. That is all part of their giving truthful reviews of products. From beginning to end whether it’s a blog post, YouTube video or Instagram post, the message must be truly their own, so as to be associated with sincerity, credibility and authenticity.

 

Horses for Courses

Celebrity endorsement creates general awareness of a product or brand, reaching a greater audience of a mass market of consumers. But influencer marketing creates an intimate connection between followers and brand. A connection that ultimately drives sales.

Typically it’s the biggest brands, with a greater budget which use celebrity endorsements as their marketing strategy. Working with celebrities costs much more than with social media influencers. Though interestingly enough social investing in social media influencers seems to lead to a greater return. Because the brand is investing in a personality whose followers’ interests are an exact fit for the brand’s products.

 

Vive La Difference!

If the budget is big enough, using both celebrities and influencers should do wonders. Initially with celebrities creating an impact and then by the influencers building a connection between the brand and consumers.

Celebrity endorsement draws widespread attention making a loud noise like a machine gunner; whereas influencer marketing takes a specific targeted aim like a sharpshooter.