Isn’t an influencer just another advertising medium?

The debate rolls on as to what actually is an ‘influencer’.

Come Round has been around for 10 years (before anyone had uttered the words #influencermarketing) and so it’s fair to say that we’ve got a pretty deep and experienced understanding of what we believe an ‘influencer’ is. In our view – and with the greatest respect – a lot of influencers (not all of them) are simply ‘advertisers’ as soon as they receive payment or other remuneration.


One definition of advertising is to ‘draw attention to (a product, service, or event) in a public medium in order to promote sales’. So, each of these undoubtedly a ‘public medium’:

  • back cover of a magazine
  • side of a bus
  • on TV during a programme break
  • on someone’s social media account

At its core, the latter is advertising just like all the others, but a different way of advertising. For a start, in the latter scenario the advert will have been made by the advertiser (the social media account) albeit with approval and funding from the brand. And secondly, the eyeballs who might see their advert will have actively asked to see it (by following the social media account in the first place although you could argue that this is the same as choosing to watch TV adverts when you could easily change channels, leave the room to make tea or switch the TV off).

At the end of the day, when a social media account posts about a product or service they’ve been paid for, shouldn’t we be calling them advertisers rather than influencers (hence the required #ad hashtag)?