It’s time to broaden our perception of “influencers”

The masses use Instagram and adjacent social media platforms to share photos of our food, pets and annual trip to the beach. But there are a select group of people who have garnered a new type of fame – and members of this influencer class use their social media platforms to sell, sell, sell. The eye rolls that come along with calling someone an influencer are usually reserved for a specific type of social media persona. Think former-Bachelorette-contestant who fancies himself a swimsuit model. Or retired NCAA athlete who shares gym selfies (without a bead of sweat to be found) to sell leggings. But, the term influencer is much broader, and partnering with the right one could create meaningful traction for your business. 

To change your perspective and open your eyes to fruitful influencer partnerships, we need to first change how you view influencers. We’ll start with my definition: 

An influencer is anyone who has a trusted social media followership and uses their personal likes, interests, talents or ideas to share helpful information with their follower base. 

Notice that the definition includes nothing about platform, product type, age or appearance. Influencers can be ANYONE, and they can influence their followers to purchase or do ANYTHING. When you rethink what it means to be an influencer, you’ll find that there are people in your industry who could be a valuable partner for you! Here are some real-life examples to help drive this point further. 

Grab your needles 

A casual Google search for the “top knitting influencers” revealed a shockingly robust list of people who are delivering knitting-focused content. If you view their profiles, you’ll find that they’ve made various partnerships with “fibre developers” (I’ll save you the search, Americans would call them “yarn makers”) and patternmakers. These creators – in more ways than just social media content – have hundreds of thousands of engaged followers, putting them squarely in the category of “influencer.”

If you were, say, a person who created boutique knitting needles, partnering with a knitting influencer would make PERFECT sense. Because who follows knitting content just for kicks and giggles?! You’d be supplying a potential future customer with usable goods in exchange for them sharing their experience with other potential customers. No need to shell out millions to partner with Addison Rae. 

Age is just a number

If I asked my darling grandmother what “collab” meant, I don’t think she could even give me a guess. But these older (in their 80s and 90s) influencers have the art of brand deals down to a science. Take the fabulous Iris Apfel for example. She recently released a collaboration with H&M – a brand known for its Gen Z appeal. This collaboration pushes the bounds of normalcy, in what I could only describe as a modern take on what it must have been like to experience Andy Warhol’s Factory. Regardless of how you feel about the Technicolor spot, Apfel demonstrates that age is just a number, and social media influence isn’t limited to folks in the dawn of life. 

While partnering with Apfel would likely be out of most brand budgets, there are other senior influencers that could work perfectly for various brands. If your audience is older adults, consider pursuing a relationship with a senior influencer in your area.

The conceptual influencer

Finding the right influencer for a partnership might not come down to product promotion, but more of a concept or an idea. Enter the prime example: the organization influencer. If you watch YouTube videos with any regularity, you may have seen that millions of people have watched people redesign their pantries after Kourtney Kardashian dropped her pantry redesign…LITERALLY, people will watch influencers do their chores for entertainment! Me, on the other hand, I cannot get behind taking cereal out of a cardboard pourable box to put it into a…plastic pourable box. 

Organization influencers are hot right now, and they could be a prime candidate for connection if your trinkets and widgets help people declutter their space. Influencers like Tânia of Homganize help people create Instagrammable refrigerator-scapes (I wish I were joking). She adds tons of products to her shoppable Amazon list so that her followers can perfectly organize their strawberry dish