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Influencers – help for your business or just hype?

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Tanned skin delicately draped in organic linen, perfectly placed flat-lays and lifestyles steeped in glitz and glamour – it’s the world that never really existed until, well, the past eight years when Facebook bought Instagram and enabled businesses to push sponsored content on the platform. From there, we saw the rise of the social media influencer.

What is an ‘influencer’?

The term has a number of connotations, but it really is as simple as it sounds. Influencers are people who, through their social media presence and activity, have some level of influence on their audience. They can be subject matter experts, celebrities or local personalities or simply just socialites or people living a perceived enviable lifestyle. Their audiences take on board, trust and often adopt, their opinions, styles and behaviours.

It can be a gold mine for businesses trying to put their products or services into the hands of their ideal market. It’s not right for every brand and it’s not right for every audience – Instagram really is predominately a 40yrs-and-under platform and particularly millennial-heavy.

Are influencers worth using within a PR strategy?

We are living in an incredibly intelligent, hyper-aware and cynical world where marketing truly needs to be clever to slip through those filters. By working in influencers, you are effectively paying for third party endorsement. Further, much like PR, marketing via influencers can appear more authentic and genuine, therefore attracting a less cynicism and defensiveness from your market. However, the key to achieving this authenticity is correctly identifying the influencers that align best with your brand, its personality and values. Clever influencers know how to integrate marketing and brands into their posts. They offer value by talking about and introducing products and services that interest their followers.

Influencers often show potential customers how to use your product, provide additional reasons to use it and can show their audience the product does what it says on the label. For products that sit at a higher price point or might require some convincing before a customer commits to purchasing, influencers provide a controlled platform for a brand to showcase the benefits of a product to a market teetering on the verge of buying, or not buying.

For product launches, influencers can work really well. Offering influencers a sneak peek or exclusive access to a product before it launches to the public can drum up hype and momentum in the lead-up to launch day and provide a ready-made market prepared to purchase on go-live.

Lastly, you might like to engage influencers to promote events and experiences. Influencers typically have quality aesthetics on their feeds, with many hiring photographers to capture their content. It’s a great way to show your event in a high-quality light to give potential customers a preview of what they could experience themselves.

In many markets, traditional media pools such as newspaper and magazines are dwindling, so it’s a great time for businesses to ensure their PR plans are multi-faceted and encompass a range of media across owned and earned channels, including influencers.

How do I know which influencer to engage?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where do people in my target market consume digital content?
    • Instagram, YouTube, Facebook.
  • Who are people in my target market engaging with on those platforms?
  • Which of those people have a brand that echoes yours?
    • Does their tone, style and content reflect yours?
    • Would your brand message “fit in” to their content?

Most of all think about which influencer will feel authentic with your brand – if an organisation starts to interfere with the authenticity of an influencer’s content and they sounded like an ad, that influencer would lose followers pretty quickly.

It’s not always about who has the most followers – 10 highly engaged followers trumps 1000 disengaged followers any day of the week.

How much do influencers charge?

How long is a piece of string? The reality is there is no set formula or guideline as to how much an influencer should and can charge.

A vast majority of influencer posts are still unpaid. An influencer instead is likely to be offered tickets or products in exchange for posts. In smaller cities, you can expect to pay $75-$350 per post up to $500 per post in larger cities, depending on how many followers the influencer has and how engaged they are.

Work out what you’re prepared to spend on a campaign, reach out to your ideal influencers for their rates and go from there.

Other things to consider

  • Briefs and contracts are important, particularly where you’re paying an influencer. Protect yourself to ensure your messaging is clear and the content you’re paying for is delivered but allow some creative license for the influencer to inject their own authentic personality.
  • Influencers are now starting to sign exclusive contracts whereby they may not be able to produce content for competing brands. This can work in your favour (where you have that exclusivity – but be prepared to pay for it) or can send you back to the drawing board if you’ve put all your eggs in one influencer’s basket for a campaign.

I’ve had some great successes with Influencers, but if you’re not familiar with the platforms or how to engage correctly for your brand, seek out a professional for help.

About Nicole Moody

nicolem@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Nicole Moody is widely recognised as one of the most senior and experienced communication professionals in Perth, Western Australia. She is the Managing Director of Perth-based Hunter Communications. Her extensive career has involved working in Australia and London in the highest levels of public relations, government and journalism. With her passion for communication and a commitment to achieving outstanding results for clients, Nicole has built her client base at Hunter to include some of Western Australia’s biggest brands and companies. Along with managing strategic communications issues, Nicole has advised on numerous ‘front page’ media issues, crisis management and recovery, and brand reputation and management. A highly experienced and results-driven communications manager, Nicole brings the same energy and passion that has made her a multi award-winner and leader in her field to every job and every client.

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