From Wedgwood to Web Celebrities

In the 18th century, Josiah Wedgwood, a British master craftsman, recognised the potential of influencer marketing. He understood that by gaining the favour of Queen Charlotte, a powerful influencer of her time, he could elevate his cream-coloured pottery to extraordinary status.

By Darine Saleh
This success led to the birth of "Queensware," one of the world's first luxury brands, long before the term "influencer marketing" even existed.

As time progressed, influencer marketing continued to evolve. During the Great Depression in 1932, Coca-Cola associated its brand with joy through Santa Claus, etching this image into people's hearts worldwide.

In the 1970s, brands like Quaker Oats created relatable fictitious characters like "Little Mikey" to establish lasting connections with consumers.

However, the era of celebrity influencers waned due to their extravagant lifestyles. Reality TV emerged as a new influencer marketing platform, blurring the line between reality and screen life, emphasising relatability.

The advent of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube further revolutionised influencer marketing. It expanded beyond celebrities, empowering everyday individuals to amass large followings, reshaping the modern influencer marketing landscape.

In today's digital age, influencer marketing has become indispensable for businesses aiming to connect with their target audience. Yet, this landscape is rapidly evolving.

Likes and follows are no longer the sole metrics of success. Brands now focus on insights, content marketing, SEO, goal-setting, and lead generation to drive effective influencer marketing campaigns.

The industry operates in cycles, shifting between brand ambassadorships, short-term relationships, and long-term partnerships and focusing on micro and nano-influencers to adapt to evolving preferences.

The surge of influencer marketing is undeniable. HubSpot's 2023 marketing strategy and trends report reinforces this, revealing that 89% of marketers plan to maintain or increase their investments in influencer marketing in 2023.

Early influencer marketing relied on superficial metrics like likes, shares, and followers, but the industry matured, shifting toward a data-driven approach to measure genuine engagement and ROI.

Insights are now pivotal, with brands and influencers prioritising in-depth analytics, including engagement rates, reach, impressions, CTR, and conversion rates.

So, don't waste your time by counting likes; instead, follow the heartbeat of influencer marketing.

Content marketing aligned with SEO principles has become crucial for influencer marketing success. Brands and influencers collaborate on content that resonates with the target audience and ranks well on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), involving keyword research, meta-description optimisation, and engaging content.

Setting clear, measurable goals guides influencer marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, or boost product sales. Influencers align their content with these goals to achieve desired outcomes.

Influencer marketing generates leads and conversions by driving traffic to brand websites or landing pages, often involving exclusive discounts, giveaways, or valuable content to encourage user action.

Effective influencer marketing relies on a symbiotic relationship between brands and influencers, involving close collaboration and data sharing to fine-tune strategies, ensuring content aligns with brand values and objectives.

The future of influencer marketing raises intriguing questions about its societal impact as the digital landscape continues to evolve. Will everyone transition to the digital world? Will influencer marketing merely manipulate followers or genuinely influence their habits and lives?

Do digital followers share common characteristics, or do cultural and social differences play a role? Is the number of followers a significant indicator of influence? The digital influencer marketing world is ever-changing, with many countries developing strategies and laws rooted in this multifaceted digital influence.


Darine Saleh

Darine Saleh, a content marketing producer and communications consultant with 15+ years in media and production, focuses on collaborating with individuals and organizations. Her goal is to help transform their expertise into innovative media formats. Holding a master's degree in corporate and digital communication, Darine brings a deep understanding of influencer marketing and emerging technology trends, especially in artificial intelligence.
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