A proper perspective.
The problem with influencer marketing is that it’s run by advertisers/marketers, not by public relations pros. (And, no, I’m not starting a turf war.)
Yes, public relations is part of marketing communications which is part of marketing. But, the tact, the soft sell, the relationships and audience-view approaches are different.
Today’s influencer or influence marketing is essentially, nothing more than yesterday’s media relations. Media relations, by definition, including digital and social media relations, is about getting a company’s message out via credible third-party “outlets.”
Influencer marketing? It “is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.”
If done right, media relations and influencer marketing meets the needs of your client/employer AND the influencer — whether a traditional reporter, freelancer, passionate blogger, Instagrammer or YouTuber — by meshing the marketing message with the influencer’s content and audience needs.
And, to get that mesh, you need to know what your client/employer wants to achieve: What’s the message you want to “get out,” who do you want to see it, how can you best deliver that message (copy, images, video, interview), and what are the objectives.
You have to know which influencers are right for your company: Which influencers reach what types of audiences, what types of posts do the influencers use, how close do they work with brands, etc.?
If you do your homework — yes, it takes work — it’s a match that benefits both.
If you don’t, you can get embarrassed.
Given the paid-media first approach of many marketers, influencer marketing can be nothing more than sponsored posts. Or, in layman’s terms, an advertisement.
That’s fine, and appropriate for some campaigns. But, it must be disclosed, right FTC?The lack of disclosure can get companies in trouble but can do more damage to influencers. Most influencers built their audiences out of authentic passion or true personality. If they lose that credibility with their faithful audiences, they lose it all.
And, don’t think I’m against media getting paid. I’m all for people earning a living, especially if they’ve invested time, effort and personality to build a faithful following. However, as always, with money, comes the potential for temptation for a skewed point of view, for a focus on thine own self and away from what made you a success.
The solution to influencer marketing?
A public relations professional who has the business-influencer perspective, the required skills to manage business-influencer relationships, and experience to determine if paid media or earned media best meets objectives.
For more on influencer marketing, click:
Cross-published from a May 2016 LinkedIn Pulse post, and making sure my own content is on my own site.