If you’re a millennial company leader, you may know everything you need to know about influencers. But if you’re not, this may be the first time you’ve heard this terminology or perhaps the first time you’ve stopped to ask, what’s an influencer and why should I care?
Influencer campaigns have been lighting up marketing plans in every business sector. If your consumer base includes the millennial or younger generation, you need to know that they are looking for authentic connections to the brands they choose. Traditional marketing like print advertising and direct mail cannot deliver that type of brand experience; however, influencer campaigns can offer companies the opportunity to share their brand’s story in a genuine way. In a 2015 survey by Tomoson, businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. As a result, brands of all sizes are looking to add influencer campaigns.
Is Influencer Marketing the Same as PR?
At first it can be difficult to distinguish between public relations and influencer marketing. They share similar strategies and goals – promoting a brand, contacting outlets, and building relationships to boost the brand and gain awareness and followers. However, the difference between the two is significant and it comes down to the amount of control you have in how, when and where your brand is shared.
With PR, you work to build relationships with the media to connect the public with your brand. A great pitch can result in incredible reach. However, the particulars of the story are often determined by the journalist who writes the piece, leaving you without the final say in what is written and talked about, where it appears, and when it is published.
Influencers aren’t looking for a great story idea. They aren’t journalists. They are individuals with a personal interest in their niche. Generally, influencers create daily content for the enjoyment of their audience. Unlike PR, influencers collaborate with companies on content and tend to be more flexible when it comes to meeting a company’s goals and timelines. This control does come with a price tag. While earned media as a result of PR efforts may be free, influencer placements give you the ability to choose your preferred social channels, tailor the story, and specify how you want to use/share the content.
What Are Influencers?
It’s possible that you’ve eyed your own social media posts and wondered, could I be an influencer? In many cases, you are! Your friends look to you for advice on where to shop for modern furniture and your family knows that you’ll be the first to suggest a tasty new restaurant.
Where you might bring unique insight to a small, personal crowd, influencers are niche professionals with large, dedicated followings. They offer genuine content and have the unique potential to guide purchases with their professional advice. You can find them in your Facebook or Instagram feed sharing their favorite beauty products or on a YouTube video unboxing that new rock album. They can be micro influencers with local followings of around 100-1,000 people or giant, celebrity influencers who carry a crowd of 1M+! The audience reach is far and the creative opportunities are endless.
How to Implement Influencer Marketing
Influencers fit into marketing plans quite nicely and may in fact tie in with many of your current social media goals. Whether you want to increase followers, build brand awareness or launch a new product, influencer marketing is an effective tool to reach a relevant audience who will trust the messenger’s recommendation.
It’s important when adding an influencer campaign that you build an effective strategy that looks closely at your brand and social media presence to create content that will inspire and motivate influencers to collaborate. Professional influencers dedicate time to building trust with their audiences and won’t just hand over access to them freely. And don’t forget to factor in your budget when approaching influencers. They may have the right audience for you, but many have established rates and guidelines for engagement and these will need to align with your own.
After you’ve taken the time to build the relationships, make the leap and reach out to your favorite influencers, but be careful, this is your moment to prove that you’re their biggest fan. This isn’t a straight paid advertising opportunity. It’s more like a marriage and the feelings need to be mutual in order for the endorsement to feel authentic. Always tailor your email with a personalized message for each influencer and offer them an opportunity that considers creative flexibility along with fair compensation and value. Be sure to outline your goals, content desires and timeline in your campaign brief. This is also a great time to include your wishes for ownership of images or videos to avoid breach of copyright.
Micro influencers with a small, but focused niche may require only a few hundred dollars to engage, while partnering with celebrities could cost thousands or even millions of dollars. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, take a look around and see if you can find the ones that are the right fit with your brand. They can become powerful brand ambassadors and often prove to be the most credible and effective voice of a company’s brand.
Cynthia Guiang is Chief Marketing Officer of Orca Communications. You can contact her at 858-793-2471 or firstname.lastname@example.org.