As the media landscape continues to develop – and changes the way brands create and maintain awareness – it’s no secret that the challenge for PRs underlies in sustaining solid relationships with mainstream media and journalists as well as focusing on what many consider “the wave of the future”: niche bloggers, online communities, fans and even at some level celebrities. According to Malcom Gladwell, famous author for his theory on the “Tipping point”, the fact is that many trends are ushered into popularity by the law of few. However, bear in mind that the message still remains just as important as the messenger.
So, whether you are just starting to embrace the idea or if it’s just not your forte and you are in the need of a few ideas, check out our latest infographic focusing on the dual role a brand influencer should have and learn some practical tips to execute.
As Jeff MacGurn has proven, context is everything. He carried out a study of viral content, which showed that people’s sentiment towards a subject varies greatly depending on the context in which it is shown. One may be unmoved by an image of a mountain bike, until a caption is added to it: “My last new bike ever! I have a fatal brain tumor, and in 15 hours I have a one-way flight to Singapore. I plan to ride around the world until I can’t.”
Just as public relations executives know to measure the sentiment of coverage as well as mere column inches, those involved in digital and social media placements must shift their focus towards the context of this content. Rather than seeding assets to influencers, communicators should allow them to co-create content that is meaningful to them. Give influencers a gift that touches them, and they’ll pay it forward. And the goodwill of their audience will be mutually shared.
An influencer who has reach can share his content or positive recommendation in a manner that will be heard and positively responded to. With over 3.5 million Facebook fans, Lily Allen was, for instance, the perfect match to partner with Axe’s latest digital campaign. Brian Solis, social media guru, puts a rider on this observation by pointing out than “Influence is not popularity”. Having a wide audience does not necessarily reflect influential aura. Precisely in this example, the singer fitted perfectly within the campaign theme while exerting a profound influence within her community.
It doesn’t just come down to audience and social media reach. It’s about authority and the ability to persuade consumers. Starting from there, anyone can be an influencer, even with a small readership! Nike, for instance, will leverage its influence through community volunteers and activists who are considered to be truly experts in their field. The Hins-Healthy blog illustrates this perfectly. Dedicated to women’s sport, the blog regularly showcases Nike’s products (photos, product testing, etc.).
Think about it. A trusted influencer can generate high authoritative links which will have a positive effect on your website and SEO strategy. It can also increase valuable word of mouth referrals. What drives influence is trust, and authenticity inspires trust… How fervently a person advocates on behalf of a brand varies widely based on their true passion for the product and/or brand.
Don’t be silo-ed in terms of designing campaigns with influencers. They should be considered as part of your integrated media strategy. Having an influencer to help your brand resonate is obviously good. Having an influencer to ignite action is even better! Co-creating projects, product brainstorms, focus groups, testing program… Find a way to drive immediate action and engagement.
Recommendations and peer-reviews can affect each part of the purchase funnel, driving substantial business results. According to Ran Shaul, one of the leading experts on influence marketing, “When we talk about influence, it’s everything besides buzz. We don’t count likes or tweets, we measure the impact of purchases within your social circle”. Develop customer intelligence to connect the dots between likes and purchases!