IATE Term of the Week: Influencer



There was a time, when the only way for us helpless consumers to know which products to buy, was to listen to stars like Julia Roberts, smiling at us from posters, magazine pages, and the television, letting us know which brands to trust. In the last couple of years, these celebrity endorsements have lost a considerable portion of their power. As technology and social media play an increasing role in our everyday lives, the new strategy for companies to promote their products is making contracts with influencers. According to the Online Oxford Dictionary, an influencer is ‘a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.’

The more followers an influencer has, the more interesting he or she becomes in terms of marketing. However, it is not enough for a brand to find an influencer with many followers. In this marketing strategy, it is crucial that the companies fit the influencer and the other way around. Most of the time, the influencer has a certain set of skills and knowledge about a specific field like make-up, traveling, sports, or wellness. Recommending useful products is naturally part of the content. Here the companies step in. Depending on the number of followers, brands are willing to pay high amounts of money, in order for influencers to promote their products. If an influencer wants to earn money this way, he or she needs to keep the balance between advertising and still appearing credible and trustworthy to their followers.

Although the word influencer in mentioned meaning is new, the word itself is in use for a while now. The usage of the word in the sense ‘a person or thing that influences another’ can be traced back as early as the 1660s, referring to state and church leaders. The newer meaning of the term, however, has found its way in our everyday language. There are many compounds with the word influencer like social-media influencer, indicating the platform or mega-influencer indicating scale. People become even more inventive. They start using ‘-fluencer’ as a suffix, making up blended words like thinkfluencer. The English word influencer also has an impact on other languages. In Germany, for example, Influencer was voted the Anglicism of the year 2017. The jury argued that the new phenomenon needed a name and the word influencer added supplementary meaning to alternative German words. Pretty influencing this influencer.


Influencer | Definition of influencer in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/influencer

Juganaru, R. (2018, May 04). The increasing influence of the word ‘influencer’. Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2018/05/09/the-increasing-influence-of-the-word-influencer/

Sprache: Promis neuer Art: “Influencer” ist Anglizismus des Jahres. (2018, January 30). Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://www.zeit.de/news/2018-01/30/promis-neuer-art-influencer-ist-anglizismus-des-jahres-180130-99-856392#!top-of-overscroll

Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.