Ever since blogging started out back in the late 1990s, when the Internet was slowly, but steadily growing with the help of dial-up connections, it was a special world for early web aficionados. Blogging was, and still is, something everyone with an Internet connection can do.

As more and more people became connected to the Internet, blogging has blossomed. A plethora of blogging platforms offer free hosting for personal blogs, and there are thousands of tools, templates, add-ons, and tutorials that will help you set up your own blog in a mere matter of minutes.

But as the blogging world has grown and thrived, the most successful bloggers in their respective niches became amazing marketing channels for brands across the world. Bloggers, and more importantly their blogs, quickly became formidable advertising arenas and influencers for products and services. Both repeat readers and one-time viewers were, and still are, influenced in their purchases.
But the reach goes way beyond purchases: authority blogs in their respective niches are extremely powerful brand awareness vehicles for companies, but also excellent PR channels. 

Bloggers as influencers and influencers as bloggers?

The concept of the influencer we often use in the world of online marketing, is, at first glance, brand-new. 
And, quite frankly, that's true - we didn't use influencer before the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
But, even though the term was not used as we use it today, the modern influencer was built on the shoulders of earlier giants and their experience: bloggers. An influencer, as many online marketing experts explain, can be a blogger at a different stage -- essentially a hyper-specialized content producer who has managed to refine the message and extend his or her reach. That is, an influencer managed to hone their marketing skill, build trust among his or her followers, and monetize their reach. 

So what are influencers? And who are they?

To put it bluntly, they are the YouTube vloggers with millions of subscribers, the Twitter stars, the Facebook divas and gurus and the Instagram sweethearts or heart-throbs. They receive thousands of likes, shares, and comments on their photos, statuses, and opinions. They have hordes of loyal fans who admire and look forward to what they have to say. Think pewdiepie on YouTube, Kim Kardashian on Instagram, or Tim Ferriss on Facebook.
Most of these online celebrities make their money from advertising products and services for companies that appeal to their audiences. While some influencers built their career on social media, a lot of them seem to have stumbled into a successful influencer career and found their fame by accident. 
Influencers are not necessarily bloggers – many influencers do have their own blog, and they write on them daily. But not all of them do it, and most importantly, there are a lot of influencers who only have their social media presence. It is not uncommon to have an Instagram celebrity who is active only on his or her Instagram account, or an influencer whose sole presence is on Twitter. 

What will the future hold for influencers?

Making predictions about the future of online marketing (and anything related to the Internet) is notoriously tricky, but there are influencer intelligence platforms like NeoReach that work to identify trends for businesses and marketers to understand when it comes to their digital marketing and influencer campaigns. By analyzing influencers and audiences, up-and-coming influencers can be identified and audience engagement with this new form of media and marketing can be better tracked and leveraged. But one thing’s for sure -- both businesses and consumers are embracing influencer media.

Are you?