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Opinion

Five Influencer Archetypes: Finding Your Perfect Fit

The pantheon of influencers is exploding, with a new big name occupying every imaginable niche each week. While pigeon-holing the entire industry would be impossible, we’re going to unpack five of the most common archetypes we see coming to the fore to help you understand the advantages of each (as well as the perils) so you’re equipped to whip up the best-fit influencer cocktail for your brand’s objectives.

The Artist

Spending more time on photoshop than they do on social media, The Artist might be a traditional illustrator or painter, or they could have found their calling in constructing fantastically edited grids. Either way, this archetype usually benefits from a passionately engaged audience who are tripping over themselves to share The Artist’s content, giving you greater virality potential.

Looking for some peak aesthetic content? The Artist should be your first port of call. By creating visually captivating and engaging posts, they can generate immediate hype around your brand. However, without the longevity of some of their peers’ content strategy and with less flexibility in creation times, this archetype is best utilised for short-term objectives like product launches or notable brand promotions.

Further to this, while their audience does tend to be more engaged, be aware that they may be more interested in the art than the offering behind it. Incorporate The Artist as a top-of-funnel brand awareness tactic, but be conscious of its limitations when it comes to direct conversions or building a loyal brand community.

The Expert

Jack of some trades, master of one, The Expert occupies their niche proudly, and their audience places a great deal of trust in them to provide informative content within it. Naturally segmented by virtue of their interests, The Expert’s audience will already be invested in your offering, and few will be more qualified than The Expert to understand and promote it if you fit within the relevant niche. 

A word of warning though: try to wedge your brand in somewhere it’s not admissible and The Expert’s audience will not respond kindly, with attempts routinely raked across the coals on social media for appearing clumsy and greedy. If you are a good fit, consider working with this archetype as one arm of a larger influencer strategy. Though followers of The Expert may be a tailor-made audience for your brand, rely on them to the exclusion of all others and you risk, well, excluding all others along with the business opportunities they present.

The Celebrity

With a cult following and a widely varied reach, The Celebrity is a force to be reckoned with on social media. No longer limited to Hollywood stars or music idols, the cult of celebrity has opened its arms to include the biggest names in influencer marketing and their millions of followers. Brands with cash to burn or the right connections can hitch their wagon to this archetype and elevate their offering simply by proximity. Align your brand with The Celebrity and you’ll revel in their highs…and wallow in their lows.

While the newsreel won’t rush to cover blunders by The Celebrity’s less prominent peers, a misstep from them can easily make headline news, potentially taking your brand along for the ride. Consider the PR risk factor around a celebrity collaboration carefully before you dive in and have an emergency exit ready. 

Additionally, make sure you understand what you want to achieve in your influencer marketing strategy before embarking on a partnership with The Celebrity. Follower count is just a small part of the story when it comes to this channel, and social algorithms won’t always favour bigger audiences, particularly when they may actually be less engaged. If it’s a longer-term, more interactive experience you’re after, The Celebrity may not be the best fit.

The Campaigner

Courting controversy like it’s their job (which it kind of is), The Campaigner is there for the cause first and your campaign second. Deeply invested in issues such as environmentalism, social justice or body positivity, followers of The Campaigner are passionate advocates for their values and generally embrace brands that reflect them. If your offering aligns with The Campaigner’s cause then collaborating with them could be an excellent PR opportunity that will offer holistic benefits to your brand.

However, The Campaigner is a necessarily controversial figure and while their own audience will be supportive of your brand’s alignment with them, not everyone will be on the same page. Collaborating with The Campaigner may still be the right thing to do, both from a brand perspective and ethically speaking, but be sure you understand the risk before you rush in, and assess the benefits vs the losses you may sustain to both your current and prospective customer base.

The Friend

People buy into people – it’s the reason influencer marketing is as powerful as it is. Seeing that need, this archetype found its place on social media simply by being relatable. While followers won’t know The Friend personally, they feel like they do and crucially for brands, will trust them accordingly. Often occupying the nano or micro-influencer sphere, The Friend is reliably interactive with and accessible to their followers, and their followers are measurably more engaged as a result.

Unsustainable with massive audiences, the hyper-availability of The Friend relies on a smaller follower count, so think of them as the foundations of your influencer strategy. But remember, while The Friend may need to be supplemented by bigger accounts to hit the social headlines, their actual reach could in fact be higher, and their cost-effectiveness means you can incorporate a number of them into your influencer base and benefit from the increased authenticity and engagement each one provides. Once you recognise these archetypes on social media and understand the different ways their audiences engage with them and the brands they work with, establishing the optimum blend for your goals should be a relatively straightforward task. But agility is crucial. Nothing, and certainly not influencer marketing, exists in a vacuum, and as the real world changes so will consumers and their preferences.

Adopt an always-on approach to your influencer management to ensure you can pivot with your audience, reshuffling your influencer mix to reflect their needs at speed, and you’ll avoid many of the pitfalls these archetypes present, leaving you free to enjoy the perks.

2 comments

  1. Amazingly accurate description! Perhaps there could be more than five types, including a mix of these. However, the basic types are described in great detail!

    1. Glad you found this useful, Jeremy. 100% agree that there are more than five types of influencers – if only I had more time and word space! Perhaps there will be a sequel one day… What examples would you want to see in it?

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