The History Of Influencer Marketing – All You Need To Know

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In the past few years, influencer marketing has become one of the most popular and effective ways for brands to promote their products and services. But the history of influencer marketing is a long and fascinating one, dating back several decades. This article will explore the evolution of influencer marketing from its early days to the present.

The path to modern influencer marketing

In the early days of advertising, celebrities, and famous people were often used to promote products. This strategy, known as celebrity endorsement, was first used in the 1700s when Josiah Wedgwood, a famous potter, used Queen Charlotte to endorse his pottery. This strategy continued to be used throughout the 20th century, with celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jordan, and Britney Spears endorsing everything from cosmetics to sports shoes.

Michael Jordan endorsing

Celebrity endorsements were one of the earliest forms of influencer marketing. Brands would pay famous people to promote their products, hoping that their star power would rub off on their products and convince consumers to buy them. However, this type of endorsement was often expensive and not very targeted, as brands would simply choose a celebrity who had a wide appeal without considering whether their audience was likely to be interested in the product being promoted.

In the 2000s, in the history of influencer marketing, social media started to become more popular, with platforms like MySpace and Facebook emerging. This gave rise to a new type of celebrity – the social media influencer. These old influencers were people who had amassed large followers on social media, and they were able to leverage their popularity to promote products and services.

The first social media influencer was probably Justin Kan, who co-founded the live-streaming platform, Justin.TV, in 2007. Kan was one of the first people to live stream his life 24/7, and he quickly gained a large following. Brands started to take notice, and Kan became one of the first people to make a living from influencer marketing.

Around the same time, fashion bloggers started to become popular. These bloggers would post photos of their outfits on social media, and their followers would try to emulate their style. Brands began to approach these bloggers, offering them free products or even payment in exchange for promoting their products on their blogs and social media channels. This marked the beginning of influencer marketing as we know it today.

In 2010, in the influencer marketing history, Instagram was launched, and this really changed the game for influencer marketing. Instagram was designed to be a visual platform, and it quickly became popular with fashion and beauty influencers. Brands started to collaborate with these influencers, sending them products to feature in their photos and paying them to post sponsored content.

This marked a shift towards more targeted influencer marketing, as brands were able to choose influencers who had a following that was likely to be interested in their products.

The rise of Instagram also led to the creation of new types of influencers, such as micro influencers and nano influencers. These influencers have smaller followings than the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, but they often have a more engaged and niche audience. Brands began to realize that working with a group of micro or nano influencers could be just as effective, if not more so, than working with a single celebrity or macro influencer.

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In the mid-2010s, influencer marketing really started to take off with the launch of dedicated influencer marketplaces and marketing platforms. Ainfluencer is among these platforms that made it easier for brands to find and collaborate with influencers and provided tools for measuring the effectiveness of influencer marketing campaigns.

Today, influencer marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it continues to evolve as new social media platforms emerge, and new types of influencers emerge.

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The time influencers became a “Thing”

After learning about the history of influencer marketing, let’s get to the “influencer” term. The term “influencer” really started to gain traction in the mid-2010s. By 2016, influencer marketing had become a $1 billion industry.

One of the most famous influencer campaigns of all time took place in 2017, when Fyre Festival, a music festival in the Bahamas, was promoted by a group of influencers, including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin.


The influencers posted photos of themselves on social media, posing on yachts and beaches, encouraging their followers to buy tickets to the festival. The festival turned out to be a disaster, but the influencer campaign had already been a huge success, with tickets selling out within hours of the influencers posting about it.

Today, influencer marketing is a massive industry, with brands of all sizes working with influencers to promote their products and services. According to a report by Influencer Marketing Hub, the global influencer marketing industry was worth $13.8 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach about $26 billion by 2025.


The history of influencer marketing is long, and it has come a long way since the days of Josiah Wedgwood and Queen Charlotte. Today, social media influencers are some of the most powerful people in advertising, reaching millions of people with just one post. As social media continues to evolve, it is likely that influencer marketing and influencer marketplaces like Ainfluencer DIY marketplace will continue to be an essential part of the advertising landscape for years.


1. Who was the first influencer?

The concept of influencing others has been around for a long time, but if we look at the modern-day concept of an influencer, bloggers who gained popularity in the early 2000s were likely the first influencers. Some of the early influencers were Justin Hall and Heather Armstrong. With the emergence of social media platforms, influencers from different niches gained popularity, and today, there are countless influencers who have a significant impact on their followers and the brands they promote.

2. What is influencer marketing theory?

Influencer marketing theory is a set of principles and practices that guide the use of influencer marketing as a marketing strategy. It emphasizes the importance of identifying the right influencers, developing a mutually beneficial relationship, authenticity, and a strategic approach aligned with the brand’s goals. The theory provides a framework for businesses to use influencer marketing as an effective tool to reach their target audience.

Cyrus Nambakhsh

Cyrus is a serial entrepreneur, product-led-growth expert, a product visionary who launched 7 startups. He has built scalable platforms to help businesses and entrepreneurs. Contact: