Influencer Marketing 101

The Living Influencer Marketing Glossary

Curating every influencer marketing term you've ever heard
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Influencer Marketing 101

The Living Influencer Marketing Glossary

Curating every influencer marketing term you've ever heard

Marketer-exauso-mania, noun (mark-ee-ter-ex-aa-s-o-man-ee-a)

1. Widespread exhaustion of marketers induced by attempt to keep up with the latest buzzwords
2. Yet another buzzword marketers have to keep up with

In an industry filled with jargon and buzzwords, the influence landscape can be difficult to navigate. This problem is confounded when terms are used interchangeably, or even, incorrectly. On the flip side, having a solid foundation of “what’s what” will help you master this worthwhile craft.

Curated from industry thought leaders, experts, and practitioners, consider this living* glossary your home base or HQ for everything influencer marketing. From influencer identification to relationship ladder to return on influence, these terms and definitions span all aspects of the practice.

* To uphold its authenticity, this glossary and its definitions will be regularly updated. It’s always-on, so you can count on it.

The Basics: Must-Know Influencer Marketing Lingo


The ability to cause measurable effect or change impressions or behaviors.
Defined By: Brian Solis
Resources: Exploring and Defining Influence, A Framework for Influencer Marketing


A person or group of people who possess greater than average advantage potential to influence due to attributions such as frequency of communication, personal persuasiveness or size of and centrality to a social network.
Defined By: WOMMA
Resources: Influencer Guidebook Slideshare, A Framework for Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing

A byproduct of marketing that focuses on using an individual’s influence to amplify your brand’s message. Instead of marketing to a large group of potential customers brands collaborate with influencers who already have trust and rapport with your desired audience to help tell the brand story.
Defined By: Rachel Miller
Resources: Rachel Miller’s Influencer Marketing Definition, Guide to Influencer Marketing, AIM: Setting Sail with IM, What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer Relations

The art of creating social capital between a brand and independent industry experts, by building strong, trusted relationships based on shared goals, common values, and uncompromised authenticity.
Defined By: Konstanze Alex-Brown
Resources: Influencer Marketing 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing

Influencer Engagement

A function of a relationship-based approach to working with influencers where brands interact based on knowledge of the influencer's interests and goals. Ongoing engagement can take many forms from social sharing and commenting to content co-creation to program collaboration. A transactional approach to interacting with influencers is technically a form of engagement, but it is the lowest form in terms of mutual value.
Defined By: Lee Odden
Resources: The Marketer’s Guide to Mastering Influencer Engagement

Influencer Outreach

The process of initially attempting to form a relationship with an influencer. Successful influencer outreach sits at that sweet spot of understanding what makes your business tick, what makes a desired influencer tick, and showing the latter why engaging with the former would benefit him/her. It opens the door for future engagement; more eHarmony than Tinder.
Defined By: Shonali Burke
Resources: The Three R’s of Influencer Outreach, Step-By-Step Guide to Influencer Outreach

Influencer Marketplace

A technology that aims to match brands and participating influencers based on simple criteria, facilitate fulfillment of paid activities through standardized processes and provide KPIs that attempt to mimic advertising performance measures.
Defined By: Nicolas Chabot
Synonyms: Opt-In Network, Pay-to-Play, Influentizing
Resources: Two different paths to influencer marketing, Opt-out of Opt-In Network

Influencer Advertising

The discipline of leveraging influencer content as an extension of marketing’s paid digital media practice, often confused with influencer marketing. Influencer advertising consists of buying influencer content as media directly from influencers or through influencer marketplaces. Government regulations often require strict disclosure to consumers of sponsored influencer content by adding the mention #ad or #sponsored to such content.
Defined By: Pierre-Loic Assayag
Synonyms: Influencer Endorsement
Resources: 5 Most Dangerous Myths of IM

Influencer Compensation

The method by which an influencer is reimbursed for their time, expertise or partnership with a brand. Although some compensation is monetary, compensation can also include offering the influencer experiences, trips, or free product. Influencer compensation should be relational, not transactional.
Resources: The Seven Golden Rules to Paying Influencers, CMO Insights: 5 Keys to Identification

Content and Influence - A Framework for a successful content strategy

Influencer Content Co-Creation

The process of a brand partnering with an influencer, or group of influencers, to produce a piece of content. In this scenario, both the brand and the influencer impact the creative process and co-promote the content together.
Resources: Guide to Content Marketing & Influencer Strategy, IM Content Framework

Influencer-Generated Content (IGC)

A piece of content an influencer creates that mentions a brand. In co-creation, the content is created in partnership with the brand but with IGC, the influencer has more creative freedom and leverages their authentic voice to engage with their audience. Similar to user-generated content (UGC), IGC is authentic content created by a person mentioning the brand’s products or services.

Influencer Selection: Identification Keywords

Influencer Identification

The ability to map business goals downward to the people who can help your brand achieve them. Selecting influencers to partner with means looking for trust and authenticity with the desired audience you are trying to reach. The key element of picking influencers to work with is starting with a success in mind and selecting influencers who can help your brand achieve that success.
Defined By: Brian Fanzo
Resources: Guide to Influencer Identification

What is Influence?


A measure of an influencer’s audience size. Aside from possessing qualities that have the power to drive action, an influencer has an above-average number of followers in a specific niche or market.
Defined By: Brian Solis
Resources: 3 R’s of Influence


A measure of how much activity an influencer generates by publishing content. Someone who creates content people crave and love to engage with will make a major wave with a blog post and gain a lot of traction with a single tweet, because the content resonates with fans and followers.
Defined By: Brian Solis
Resources: 3 R’s of Influence


A measure of how relevant an influencer is to a topic that is relevant to your brand. Look for mutual relevance. Find this by assessing keywords the influencers are showing up for when you do Google searches, as well as tags and categories on their blog, hashtags they are using on Twitter and Facebook, and the topics of groups they are involved in.
Defined By: Brian Solis
Resources: 3 R’s of Influence

Celebrity (Vs Influencer)

A celebrity inspires a following; an influencer inspires a following to take action. If you go into the grocery store, you’ll likely recognize a celebrity, but not an influencer. An influencer may be a celebrity, of sorts, in their own peer group, but the general public will have no idea who they are.
Defined By: Gini Dietrich
Resources: Eight Tips for Influencer Marketing Done Well, Scott Disick’s IM Fail

The many faces of Influence

Influencer Archetype

A model example of key characteristics a type of influencer would possess. Brands should establish archetypes to categorize the types of influencers they work with. These characteristics might include the size of following, current relationship status with the brand, the type of content they create, how they like to be engaged, and what KPIs they should be tied to.
Link: The Many Faces of Dreamforce Influencers
Resources: Many Faces of Influence eBook, Many Faces of Influence Graphic

Scale Intimacy: Influencer Relationship Management

Influencer Relationship Management (IRM)

The process of building and managing long-term relationships with a select group of influencers. Often described as ‘CRM for Marketers’. IRM programs aim to increase the positive mentions of your brand among select opinion leaders, driving brand visibility and advocacy. Successful IRM programs aim to build always-on and collaborative relationships with key relevant influencers and facilitate the co-creation of content.
Defined By: Kirk Crenshaw
Link: Do you know what Influencer Relationship Management Is?, From CRM to IRM: The Rise of Social Influence

Climbing the ladder of social engagement with influencers

Relationship Ladder

A convention to define a brand’s relationship with an influencer. All influencers begin in “unaware” and climb the ladder to eventually become an “advocate”. Just like any relationship, it has ebbs and flows. Meaning, that once an influencer reaches one step, it's not always a given that they will naturally move up to the next step. You might take one step quickly, and then take twice as long to reach the next step. Other times, you might reach the top of the ladder only to fall back a step. Like any relationship, it takes work to stay on top.
Defined By: Amy Higgins
Links: Traackr’s Relationship Funnel

Brand Advocate

A person who has a genuine affinity towards a brand and actively endorses or promotes the brand to their network both online and offline, organically. Advocates are not always influencers. Some brand advocates will have a large social following and authority in the space, while others will not. Advocates authentically believe in the brand’s products or services and recommend them to their network.
Links: 5 Key Stages of Influencer Relations, Love Your Influential Detractors

Influential Advocate

The people who truly believe in a brand’s vision and are willing to promote, defend, and advance that brand without being paid for every single mention. People are influential for their content or passion and in many cases, these people can be just a one time hired gun. Influencer advocates are beyond that. The American Dream is alive and well to anyone willing to find their passion and learn to create unique content that can influence others.
Defined By: Joe Martin
Links: Social Ladder of Influencer Engagement, 2017: The Year of the Influencer, How Social Networks, Influencers, and Other Marketing Channels Impact the Holiday Shopping season, Influencer Marketing From the influencers


For influencer marketing programs, an always-on strategy is the best approach. The process of a brand continuously engaging with their influencers to build long-term relationships and programs that are mutually beneficial. Rather than only engaging influencers for a campaign or event, this method is intended to increase engagement with influencers by continuing to build content, amplification at events and marketing campaigns/offers year round.
Defined By: Amisha Gandhi
Resources: The Marketer’s Guide to Mastering Influencer Engagement

Measure Success: Influencer Analytics Definitions

Brand Mentions

The number of times an influencer mentions a brand in their content. Mentions can be organic or paid.
Resources: Travelocity Case Study


The number of views that a specific post or piece of content received over a specific period of time.This measurement is often used to calculate Cost Per Impression (CPI).
Resources: A Framework for Measuring IM Success


The percentage or portion of the conversation with target consumers or influencers your brand owns versus your competitors. This conversation can be across social media, blogs, or any other place your target audience hears from brands.
Defined By: TrackMaven
Resources: A Framework for Measuring IM Success

Return on Relationships (RoR)

The value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. RoR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations, and sharing.
Defined By: Ted Rubin  
Resources: Return on Relationship: The New Measure of Success

Return on Influence

"Return On Influence" was the first book on social influence marketing, written by Mark Schaefer in 2012. In this book he identified the shift in power from advertisers and media companies to influencers and correctly predicted the widespread use of influence marketing. He emphasized that "return on influence" is not necessarily a metric, but a trend about capitalizing on trust between individuals and their online audiences.
Defined By: Mark W Schaefer
Resources: Cracking the Code on Your Influencer Marketing Budget & ROI, Get Your IM Budget & ROI, Why Invest in Influencer Marketing

Social ROI

The return associated with a brand’s social marketing efforts. A calculation that takes into account the time, money, and resources put towards social efforts measured against the monetary outcome. This calculation should be measured in dollars.
Resources: Comprehensive Guide to Social Media ROI, Gary Vee on Social Media ROI

As the influence space evolves, so will this glossary. Let us know what terms you see missing from this list and we will do our best to define them in the next glossary update. As we begin to solidify these terms within the space, we are always open to your thoughts and feedback.

If you want to take your influencer education to the next level, enroll in the Academy of Influencer Marketing (AIM). You will learn to plan, build, execute, and measure an influencer marketing strategy that integrates with the overall marketing goals of your organization.

It’s time to solve buzzword fatigue once and for all and navigate the minutia of influencer lingo with confidence and ease. We hope these definitions provided you with the clarity you need to get your team aligned and poised for successful influencer strategies.

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