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Account Executive Stav Pisk disccuses how social media has given rise to a new kind of spokesperson: influencer, brand ambassador, thought leader, content creator.

These terms all mean the same thing – they refer to an individual who holds influence over a group of people on social media.

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, across multiple platforms, from YouTube, to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and everything in between.

Influencers give organisations an avenue to reach communities and individuals that traditional marketing and public relations efforts may have never reached. It is a brilliant way to get in front of people who would usually scroll past a social media advertisement or never read the paper.

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Over the last decade or so, influencer marketing has become a viable and strategic option for organisations to amplify their message, campaign, product, or service. In the 12 months to mid-2017, approximately US$1 billion was spent on Instagram influencer campaigns. It is expected this figure will double by 2019.

The digital world has allowed online communities to build around what they find interesting, important, attractive, therapeutic, inspiring, or funny. Whether it be a YouTuber filming videos about makeup, an Instagrammer snapping their fitness journey, or a blogger sharing parenting tips – people can find their niche online. Powerful influencers are trusted by their communities and build that trust over time, ensuring their content connects with and interests their audiences.

The importance online users place on an influencer’s opinions is serious. In 2016, Twitter surveyed its users to understand the impact influencers have on their followers. 49 per cent of respondents indicated they relied on influencers when looking for product recommendations.

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The benefit of partnering with an influencer is that it enables organisations to target communities and individuals who would most likely be interested in what they have to offer. This makes for smarter planning and a potentially better pay off, by creating campaigns that would resonate with the correct target audience.

Influencers are not only valuable to B2C organisations to promote products or services. They also add value to other organisations, such as charities and other non-governmental organisations. Influencers can get behind a cause, support a fundraising campaign, and raise awareness.

So how does it all work?

Creating a well thought out influencer strategy is key. This should play a part in a bigger communications strategy and be based on the same goals, reflecting the key messages. An influencer strategy should complement the organisation’s other communications efforts.

Having a clear idea of what both parties are wanting to get out of the partnership is vital in ensuring no one is left feeling underwhelmed or disappointed. It is important to clarify the main objective – is it to increase website traffic? Raise awareness for an important cause? Sell a product? Drive a fundraising campaign? Ultimately, a partnership between an organisation and an influencer should be mutually beneficial. Remuneration varies between thousands of dollars, to hundreds of thousands of dollars, free products, and more.

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Identifying an influencer takes time and a thorough understanding of the digital space. The match between the organisation and influencer should feel seamless, with the two parties complementing each other’s “brand” – it must make sense. For example, a partnership between a fitness blogger and McDonald’s would probably appear inauthentic. A partnership between a YouTuber who posts photography tutorials and Canon would make a lot of sense.

Successful influencers have an engaged following which has been built on trust and authenticity. An influencer will have their own unique voice that echoes across each social media platform. It is for these reasons that an influencer’s followers will instantly detect inauthenticity and see through any smoke screen.

It is also important to remember that numbers aren’t everything. Engagement is key. Often, partnering with an influencer who has 50,000 followers who are loyal and highly engaged will yield better results than an influencer with 150,000 followers who are more passive. 

Measuring the success of an influencer partnership can be difficult, especially when considering return on investment. The outcomes of running an influencer campaign will range from case to case. If the overall goal of the campaign was to raise brand awareness, measuring an increase in fundraising or product sales may be redundant.

The world of influencer marketing is only becoming bigger, and it is essential for organisations to understand the potential benefits.

Wells Haslem Mayhew’s digital team can identify influencers best suited to your needs and help you engage with them. For more information, please get in touch