15 min read

What Is an Influencer? Everything You Need to Know

Soniya Jain
November 20, 2022

What you'll learn

What you'll need

If you’re wondering, “What is an influencer?” you probably have various reasons for wanting to know what makes someone an influencer. You’re not alone as thousands of people search that query every month.

Whatever your reason, we’ve got you covered in this post on breaking down what influencers are. You may be considering becoming one yourself, or you want to start an influencer marketing campaign but don’t know all the different types of influencers or where to start. 

This guide will help break down what an influencer is, and their various types, so you can fully understand what an influencer is and how they contribute to social media marketing as a brand ambassador.

Let’s start exploring what an influencer is.

What is an influencer?

Example of a beauty influencer on Instagram

Example of a beauty influencer on Instagram. Source

In the world of marketing and advertising, an influencer is a person who has the potential to influence others through their opinions, actions, or recommendations.

You can think of an influencer as a content creator with a reasonable number of followers who are willing to trust their recommendations and advice.

No threshold follower count defines when one is an influencer.

However, you can use some logical filters like content creators with more than the average follower count on a topic on a content platform.

The number can be anywhere from a few hundred followers to millions of followers.

Also, influencers are not limited to any industry or platform. They can be in any field, from fashion to food, healthcare to software, etc.

Interesting takeaway: All influencers are content creators, but all content creators are not influencers.

Why are influencers so persuasive?

Influencers are persuasive because they’ve built relationships with any number of people through content produced and posted on various platforms.

I think we can all relate to the following story.

As a kid, I remember watching mainstream celebrities promoting different brands in TV commercials. While I used to love many of those creative ads, I rarely trusted or connected with the marketing pitches made by those famous personalities.

Moving forward to today, I have much more control over what I want to watch and who I want to watch. For example, I follow one YouTube channel for fitness tips, an Instagram creator for DIY art, and many other content creators I discover along the way.

Interestingly, I trust these creators much more when they make product recommendations. Some of these creators have, in a way, "influenced" me to purchase from brands I had never heard of before.

Welcome to the world of influencer marketing and its fundamental block - the "influencer."

Brands of all sizes are leveraging the persuasive power of these people (influencers) to reach customers and drive profitable actions without breaking the bank.

Whether you are someone who wants to become one or a brand marketer who wants to hire an influencer for their next campaign, the explanation would be invaluable for you.

But before you start vetting influencers, you need to comprehend all the types to find what influencer will fit your needs best.

Types of influencers with examples

You can classify influencers in several ways. The most commonly used divisions are by follower count, content platform, niche, and influence level.

We go through each of these classifications individually, providing you with definitions and some examples.

By follower count and audience size

Influencers can be broadly classified into four main categories based on their audience size. Check out these segments below:

Mega influencers

Kylie Jenner, an example of a mega influencer‍

Kylie Jenner, an example of a mega influencer

Mega Influencers refers to top-tier personalities worldwide with a massive following (typically 1 million plus followers) and lots of influence.

They comprise mainstream celebrities, TV figures, and breakthrough social media icons.

Usually, only top brands have the budget to collaborate with such people.

Most of these influencers have a team to manage their content production and brand deals.

Macro influencers

Mohammed Salim Khan, an example of a macro influencer focused on moto vlogging‍

Mohammed Salim Khan, an example of a macro influencer focused on moto vlogging

Macro influencers are one-notch below the mega influencers, with 50 thousand to 1 million followers on at least one social media platform. 

Tier-2 TV celebrities can also be considered under this segment.

Brands leverage their reach in many influencer marketing collaborations, as they are great at raising brand awareness.

A good example is Mohammed Salim Khan, a.k.a MSK, an Indian motorbike vlogger. 

It is his passion to travel by motorcycle and explore new places with his friends. Aside from moto vlogs, he also creates lifestyle-specific content and shares his day-to-day experiences.

Note: Before hiring a macro influencer, consider thorough vetting to avoid any influencer fraud or misfits.

Micro influencers

Lisa Niver, an example of a micro-influencer‍

Lisa Niver, an example of a micro-influencer

Micro-influencers are people like you and me who have a small but engaged following on social media. Their influence is around a particular topic or niche, such as beauty or fashion.

A typical follower base of micro-influencers ranges between 10,000 - 50,000 followers.

A key difference between micro-influencers and macro-influencers is that micro-influencers are more accessible and easier to work with. 

This makes them ideal for brands looking for affordable ways to create authentic content that resonates with their target audience. They also tend to receive higher engagement rates compared to macro influencers.

For example, Lisa Niver, an award-winning travel expert and writer who has visited over 102 countries and counting.KTLA TV also features her as an on-camera travel host.

Lisa's profile makes her a notable micro-influencer in the travel category.

Nano influencers

Nano influencers are newbie content creators with a small audience ranging from 1000-10,000 followers.

Most start with a specific niche and share content around related topics.

They are not particularly under the radar for brand collaborations as their low reach. However, they can be a good advocate of brands in particular niches, generating high engagement rates.

By content platform

This classification considers the social media platform on which the influencer is actively present and has built their following. 

Many influencers will have a large following on multiple content platforms. "Social media influencer" or "social media celebrity" is commonly used to describe such content creators.

More specifically, “platform name” + “creator/ content creator/ influencer” can describe the segment.

Overall, this classification is helpful for those who want to reach their audience on a specific social media channel.

We have listed down the most popular social media influencer segments for you.

YouTube influencers

A video from the Ryan's World YouTube channel

A video from the Ryan's World YouTube channel. Video link

YouTube influencers are people who have a large following on YouTube. Their followers watch their videos and subscribe to their channel, which allows them to share content consistently with their audience.

YouTube influencers can be anyone from a celebrity or famous person to an amateur or even a business with an online presence.

YouTube influencers are a great way to promote your brand, product, or service. You can work with them to create branded content that authentically shows your offering, thus increasing your exposure and sales with the influencer's audience.

Ryan's World YouTube channel is an excellent example of creating branded content for kids' products by integrating vlogging and unboxing style videos. The channel has generated billions of views across its kids-focused videos.

Instagram influencers

Instagram influencers have a large following on Instagram and use their influence to endorse products or services through sponsored posts, Instagram story, or go live on Instagram with videos.

These people have large followings because they're exciting and entertaining to their audience. They also tend to be opinionated and authentic, making them seem more trustworthy than typical celebrities.

When you choose a reputable Instagram influencer, they'll be able to promote your offering in a way that feels natural and organic. They can also help you reach a new audience if their followers are interested in your industry.

Stefani Pollack, the founder of Cupcake Project, is an excellent example of a food influencer on Instagram with an engaged community of baking enthusiasts.

TikTok influencers

TikTok, the vertical video-sharing app that has become a phenomenon among young people, has emerged as a powerful influencer marketing channel.

It has provided a solid platform for content creators to build an audience and monetize their content by partnering with brands looking to reach younger audiences.

Zach King is an excellent example of a TikTok creator who has amassed millions of followers on the platform thanks to his short illusion videos. He has successfully built a loyal following on several other platforms making him an established social media influencer.


Before social media platforms became mainstream, blogging on the web was the dominant way to share thoughts and opinions with others.

And even today, blogging remains a powerful medium to reach people at scale, with blogs available online for almost any topic from Harry Potter trivia to computer programming.

Bloggers are passionate about a particular topic and publish their thoughts in a blog.

Some make it big, driving tons of organic traffic and making money blogging through affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and other streams.

Amit Agarwal runs a popular technology blog and is considered one of the first professional bloggers from India. He has been publishing tech tips and how-to guides online since 2004 and has built a strong community of readers who trust him for his knowledge and advice.

Podcast creators

Lex Fridman interviewing Elon Musk on his podcast

Lex Fridman interviewing Elon Musk on his podcast. Source

Podcasts were originally created to distribute radio shows over the internet. However, they've become increasingly popular over the past few years due to their ability to provide an informative and engaging way to learn about different subjects in an audio-first format.

Podcast creators are people who create podcasts and host them on different websites or podcasting platforms. 

Advertisers usually pay them to promote their products on their podcasts. Some podcast creators have a large following; they even have websites selling merchandise related to their podcasting career.

Podcasters can be anyone from a journalist to a chef.

Lex Fridman is a popular podcast host who brings some of the most respected personalities on his show for interviews and discussions.

Influencers on other content platforms

Besides the most dominant content platforms mentioned above, there are many more social media channels and emerging platforms for which people create content and build an audience they can influence. Some of these social media channels are:

  • LinkedIn
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • Clubhouse
  • Metaverse

By Influence level

Another way to classify influential people is by their degree of influence, with popular segments in several industries and careers.

Movie and TV celebrities

Scarlett Johansson promoting Amazon's Alexa in a Super Bowl commercial

Scarlett Johansson promoting Amazon's Alexa in a Super Bowl commercial. Source

Movie stars have always been admired worldwide, even before social media became popular.

Their followers are not only interested in what these stars do on screen, but they also want to learn more about their private lives, interests, and hobbies.

This creates an emotional bond between fans and celebrities, giving them enormous power over consumers' purchasing decisions, especially when they positively endorse products that align with their public image.


Sports influencers are individuals who have attained fame and recognition through their performance in a sport or game.

They are often considered role models by their fans and are admired for their talent, skills, and achievements.

Due to their popularity and influence, sports influencers can command lucrative endorsement deals with brands. They also have a large social media following, which makes them an attractive option for advertisers looking to reach a specific audience.


Most people have a love-hate relationship with politicians.

They're often criticized for being out of touch with ordinary people, but can also be an influential source of information and action.

Politicians often have access to information that the average person doesn't and can use it to make decisions affecting everyone's lives. They also have the power to change laws, which can affect how we live our lives.


Academics can significantly influence consumer purchase decisions by providing valuable information through their knowledge and expertise.

They are considered knowledgeable, objective, and honest experts in their fields.

Academics are also considered authority figures. Therefore, they gain trust from their followers to influence through ways of educating them.

For example, they can discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a product based on facts, studies, science, or statistics and share it through their social handles.


The influence of journalists on consumer purchase decisions has been well documented. It is one of the reasons that many brands have invested in building relationships with journalists.

Journalists can be strong influencers in consumer purchase decisions because they should have extensive access to the truth through their research and reporting. They also have credibility with readers who trust their writing is accurate.

By niche/ content focus

Content creators become successful influencers because they focus on a specific topic or niche.

While influencers can talk on multiple subjects, many build a signature identity and get labeled as a [primary topic] + influencer.

Many influencer marketing platforms provide an option to filter influencer lists by "topic" or "niche." Let us look at some of the most commonly used influencer labels.

Food & beverage influencers

Food and beverage influencers love to share their opinions on food, drinks, and cooking.

They have a large following on social media and use this to promote their favorite brands or products.

For example, a chef might post a photo of their new recipe using a particular sauce brand.

Travel influencers

Travel influencers can be found in every aspect of the travel industry.

Some of them are experts in luxury travel, while others are experts in budget travel.

Some travel influencers focus on specific destinations, while others focus on a particular type of travel experience, like hiking.

Whatever their niche, they all have one thing in common: they want to help their followers experience the same kind of adventure they did when they traveled to that destination.

This could be through producing Youtube videos, Travel blogging, and social media platforms such as Instagram or TikTok.

Fashion influencers

Fashion influencer has been used to describe anyone who profoundly impacts how people dress.

They can be designers, models, celebrities, or anyone whose dressing style appeals to an audience.

Some fashion influencers will create videos where they're modeling an item or showing how it would look on someone with different body types. These videos give viewers a better sense of how something will look on them if they buy it themselves.

Beauty influencers

Beauty influencers are not just bloggers but also makeup artists, hair stylists, and fashion designers. These people significantly impact what beauty products people buy and how they style themselves.

Beauty influencers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be male or female and range in age from teens to aging adults.

Beauty influencers create content that inspires others to look and feel better about themselves by sharing their personal experiences.

While these individuals might not be household names, they have built an impressive following that is large enough to make them attractive to brands as potential partners.

Health & fitness influencers

In the health and fitness industry, there are many different kinds of influencers.

Some bloggers write articles about their experiences or tips for others to follow.

Some YouTubers post videos about how to exercise or eat healthy. 

Some Instagrammers share pictures of themselves working out or eating healthy meals.

There are even some celebrities with millions of followers who just post beautiful selfies all day long.

All these influencers have one thing in common; they want to inspire readers and viewers to live healthier lives.

Online gaming influencers

Online gaming influencers have built large followings on social media and are often known for their gaming videos, live streams, and more.

They can be professional or amateur gamers, but they have an audience who follows their every move.

They can be highly influential in the gaming community and what they choose to play or not play. If you have a popular streamer on your side, you might see an influx of players trying out your game.

Conclusion: Influencers are the modern-day celebrities

There was a time when few people exercised influence over millions of people. We called them celebrities.

Today, thousands of people are shaping the opinions of billions of people with the power of their content.

Most of these people have never appeared on TV but can drive action among their loyal followers that many TV celebrities can't.

We have started calling them influencers, basically 21st-century celebrities.

We hope this guide gave you a clear picture of influencers and what they look like.

Staying aware of modern trends also means knowing about the most powerful technologies at your disposal.

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