Influencer marketing transcends the pillars of media relations and journalism in today’s brand laden, noisy world.
By that I mean that online influencers – be they youth vloggers, mummy bloggers or curated lifestyle social channels – now do a bit of both.
Influencers on social media channels and with well-read blogs are self-made journalists and PR brand ambassadors rolled into one.
Media relations has evolved
Editorial coverage secured in the traditional media (newspapers/radio/TV) has long been prized as three times more effective in delivering an authentic message than straightforward advertising.
This is because advertising is absolutely controlled by the brand/business which buys the space. What’s used in editorial space is the decision of reporters and editors who will only include brand mentions and company stories because they have news value of interest to their readership.
Know your audience
While editorial coverage for many sectors and target demographics still has impact and can contribute to brand awareness and sales growth it should not be done in isolation of an engagement programme with established influencers.
Ten ways to engage with influencers
- Do your research – never be guilty of ‘spamming’ indiscriminate lists of emails that have been trawled from Google (especially with GDPR in mind after May this year!). Find who is in your sector area and already has a following and a portfolio of quality online content
- Don’t treat influencers like journalists. Just pitching an angle or a story is not enough to command attention from influencers. Be mindful that some of your advertising budget should be assigned to partnership payments to influencers #bloggersgottaeat
- Think visual. Sending text based news release style content will not get you noticed. Your photography should be relevant and formatted properly for social channels, not be overtly branded
- A marathon not a sprint. Building relationships takes time, effort and energy – therefore influencer programmes require commitment to enable momentum to take effect. Consider quarterly campaign themes to give you reason to engage with people who have shown an interest in you
- Guest posting – have you thought about commissioning influencers to provide exclusive content for your own brand/company social channels?
- Need feedback on NPD? While structured research can give you invaluable qualitative and quantitative data on likely consumer reactions, your influencers are well placed and expert to give you their opinions
- Gifting, promos and reader offers – in the same way as promotional giveaways work in media so do product competitions and freebies work for influencer communities. Negotiate with your bloggers to offer added value prizes to their communities
- Don’t forget business audiences. There is also a growing number of B2B and business related blogs out there – don’t just think social media influencers are for consumer brands
- And on that note – social media channels are not just the preserve of millennial audiences – older (+30!) audiences are growing and are influenced by bloggers
- Experiment and don’t be afraid. No one is an ‘expert’ in this area – we’re in a fast moving, constantly evolving world – think back five years and how much marketing communications has changed so jump in and give it a whirl.