Influencer Marketing: A New Spin on Word of Mouth (Oldest Form of Advertising)

Influencer marketing has its roots in the power of word-of-mouth marketing, which has been utilised for centuries to drive brand awareness and loyalty. In this article we explore the trajectory and power of word-of-mouth.
Influencer Marketing
5 Minutes
Kyian Keith
May 9, 2023

I remember sitting with my friends in the playground during recess, eagerly discussing our favorite TV shows, toys, and snacks. We were a group of impressionable young children, and the things we talked about had the power to influence each other's choices. In hindsight, it was my first experience with word-of-mouth marketing, and it taught me the power of recommendations from people I knew and trusted.

Fast forward to today, and word-of-mouth marketing has evolved into the billion-dollar industry that we know as influencer marketing. Brands are turning to influencers to promote their products and services to their followers, who trust them implicitly. But how did we get here? How did a casual conversation on the playground turn into a strategic marketing tactic? Let's explore.

The inception of Word-of-Mouth 


Word-of-mouth marketing has been around for centuries, but it wasn't until the 20th century that it became a studied phenomenon. In 1955, sociologist Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarsfeld published a groundbreaking study on the effects of mass media on public opinion, which highlighted the importance of personal communication in shaping people's attitudes and behaviors. This study laid the foundation for what we now call the two-step flow theory of communication, which posits that information flows from media to opinion leaders to the masses.

The emergence of social media in the 21st century provided a new platform for word-of-mouth marketing to thrive. People now had the ability to connect with others who shared their interests and values, and they could easily share their opinions and experiences with a wider audience. Brands quickly caught on and began partnering with influential social media users to promote their products and services. And thus, the era of influencer marketing was born.

The resurgence of Word-of Mouth through channels

Image: Unsplash

In recent years, influencer marketing has grown exponentially, and it's not just limited to social media. Brands are now partnering with influencers across various channels, including blogs, podcasts, and video platforms. And the impact of these partnerships is not to be underestimated. A survey conducted by the Influencer Marketing Hub found that the projected number of global social media users in 2023 is 4.89 billion, indicating a 6.5% rise from the previous year. 

Moreover, influencer marketing has proven to be particularly effective in reaching younger generations. According to a study by Morning Consult, 56% of Gen Z and 49% of millennials said they have purchased a product or service after seeing it recommended by an influencer they follow.

Large scale marketing efforts rooted in word-of-mouth

In recent years, the use of influencer marketing has expanded beyond traditional marketing campaigns to major events. This is due to the increasing influence and reach of social media, which has made it easier for brands to connect with their target audience through influencers. Major events, such as the Super Bowl and FIFA, have recognized the power of influencer marketing and have started incorporating it into their marketing strategies.

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events in the world, with millions of people tuning in to watch the game and the highly anticipated commercials. Brands spend millions of dollars to create ads that will be memorable and impactful. However, with the rise of influencer marketing, brands have started incorporating social media into their Super Bowl marketing strategies. In recent years, we have seen more and more brands teaming up with influencers to create ads and campaigns that go beyond traditional TV commercials. For example, in 2018, Amazon partnered with influencers such as Cardi B and Gordon Ramsay to create ads promoting their virtual assistant, Alexa. These ads were highly successful, with Cardi B's ad receiving over 50 million views on YouTube alone.

Image: Unsplash

Similarly, FIFA has also recognized the power of influencer marketing in promoting their events. In 2018, FIFA partnered with several influencers to promote the World Cup. These influencers were given exclusive access to the tournament and were able to create content that gave their followers a behind-the-scenes look at the event. This not only helped to promote the tournament to a wider audience, but it also provided fans with a unique and engaging experience.

Beyond traditional influence 

The power of influencer marketing lies in the fact that it is a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, influencer marketing relies on trusted individuals to promote products and services to their followers. This makes it more effective than traditional advertising, as consumers are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know and respect.

According to a survey conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub, 63% of consumers trust influencers more than they trust what brands say about themselves. This is because influencers have built a relationship with their followers based on trust and authenticity. When an influencer recommends a product, their followers are more likely to take action than if they had seen an ad for the same product on TV or in a magazine.

In addition to being more effective, influencer marketing is also more cost-effective than traditional advertising. A study by Linqia found that the average cost per engagement for influencer marketing campaigns is $0.10, compared to $1.00 for traditional digital advertising. This means that brands can achieve better results for a lower cost by investing in influencer marketing.

Image: Unsplash 

That said, influencer marketing has come a long way from its roots in word-of-mouth marketing. We have included a comprehensive summary of its evolution in our article “The Shift In Influencer Marketing & Its Focus”. It has evolved into a powerful marketing tool that can help brands connect with their target audience in a more authentic and engaging way. The use of influencer marketing in major events such as the Super Bowl and FIFA shows just how far this marketing technique has come, and the power it has to reach a wider audience. As more and more brands recognize the benefits of influencer marketing, we can expect to see it continue to grow and evolve in the coming years.

Key Takeaways

  1. Influencer marketing has its roots in the power of word-of-mouth marketing, which has been utilized for centuries to drive brand awareness and loyalty.
  2. The rise of influencer marketing has seen a proliferation of different types of influencer marketing efforts taking place in the industry, including brand ambassadors, sponsored content, and affiliate marketing.
  3. Major events like the Super Bowl and FIFA have leveraged influencer marketing to drive engagement and expand their reach.
  4. Influencer marketing has proven to be a highly effective way for brands to connect with their target audience and drive engagement, with studies showing that influencer marketing campaigns deliver up to 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.
  5. As influencer marketing continues to evolve, brands and marketers will need to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changing trends in order to stay relevant and effective in their efforts.

Looking back at my childhood experiences with word-of-mouth marketing, I'm not surprised that it has become such an integral part of the marketing landscape today. People trust recommendations from those they know and admire, and influencers provide a way for brands to tap into that trust. Influencer marketing has come a long way since its humble beginnings, but it's clear that it's here to stay. As businesses continue to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, influencer marketing will undoubtedly play a key role in their marketing strategies.

At REISE, we understand that successful influencer marketing requires a combination of expertise, strategy, and execution. That's why we've developed a service that minimizes risk and maximizes results. With our scalable approach, we can adapt to the changing needs of your brand and provide a customized solution that meets your specific goals. And with access to a global network of talented influencers, we can help you reach new markets and expand your brand's reach. Contact us today to learn more.