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Influencer marketing is an approach based on the belief that target audiences will enhance their brand engagement ‘influenced’ by the recommendation of a blogger, vlogger, celebrity, journalist or industry expert. It combines the traditional idea of celebrity endorsements with the modern-day marketing techniques – using social media as an effective tool. The only difference is that influencers may not necessarily be celebrities but influential individuals in their own right who can help generate awareness about a brand’s products and build a loyal consumer.

Influencer marketing is increasingly becoming a core element of every PR strategy. For instance, the Role of Influencer Marketing 2017 Statista survey revealed that about 58% of brand strategists and marketers believe influencer marketing to be integrated in all marketing activities within the following three years(1). In addition, the number of brand- sponsored influencer posts on Instagram are expected to rise to 32.3 million in 2019.(2)

Journalists as core influencers

The brands that can acquire journalists to market their products would be in good hands. Experienced journalists who can abet or vouch for a brand’s product or service through online blogs, videos, posts or even traditional print will invariably garner loyalty for a brand. This is because readers and viewers search for trustworthy sources and reviews before and while availing any service or buying a product.

Furthermore, journalists are renowned for their skills in forming articulate opinions, conducting research, and sharing information backed with stringent facts. In addition, modern journalists have transcended their association from mere print to the digital realm primarily on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to engage numerous followers. It must also be noted that journalists are individuals who have cultivated their audiences over a formidable period of time where organic followers will absorb the content they have to provide – the essence of influencer marketing.

Influencing crisis management

Influencers have a large role to play in swaying public opinion and emotions. Realizing this, modern-day PR strategists integrate influencer marketing into their crisis management plans as well. Engaging an influencer to accord a positive focus to a brand during crises has the following advantages.

  • Authenticity – The brand message seems more authentic when it comes from the perspective of an influencer rather than a spokesperson. Audiences and critics will be ready with their planned attacks targeting internal representatives of a brand. However, influencers can silence any qualms as they may not have any hidden agendas or interests while speaking in favour of a brand.
  • Increased management – The involvement of influencers takes away the stress induced on the internal PR, communications, and customer support departments. This in turn allows for more focus on other areas of brand development.
  • Team building – Influencers involved in crises management would feel more involved in a brand, hence strengthening the brand-influencer relationship. This can only reap dividends in the future in terms of increased recognition and credibility and other opportunities of advertising.

Mapping a brand’s influencers

A generalized approach isn’t suited to influencer marketing, but rather a tailored approach is required. This calls for organization in terms of ideating a strategy, planning, budgeting and research. Once this is done, suitable influencers can be approached. The influencer’s style and conduct must correlate with the philosophies and image of a brand.

According to a survey conducted by Hello Society, a relevant micro influencer can be 6.7 times more cost-effective than a celebrity influencer with millions of followers. Hence, deep analysis of influencer profiles, cross-platform presence, audience growth numbers and engagement numbers on each platform is crucial.

Influencers in the form of Youtubers and other vloggers may perfectly suit mobile or tech brands, while medicinal brands having older target audiences must advisably approach doctors to author blogs or create documentaries. Hence, the right balance must be maintained. From an influencer perspective as well, brand collaboration is about harnessing and enhancing their credibility. Hence, allying with influencers also involves earning their trust and respect.

In conclusion

A brand is no longer what we tell the consumers it is- it is what consumers tell each other it is” (Gensler, Völckner, Liu-Thompkins & Wiertz, 2013)
The importance and growth of influencer marketing is undisputable. Influencers represent the key interface between brands and audiences today. Social media leverages growth for smaller businesses and influencer marketing does the same, albeit in a more personalized manner.

1- https://www.statista.com/statistics/666485/role-influencer-marketing/
2- https://www.statista.com/statistics/693775/instagram-sponsored-influencer-content/

About the Author

Priyan Dc is the CEO of Star Squared PR, a fast growing boutique PR consultancy based in India. Star Squared PR is a strong advocate of Influencer Marketing and has championed several campaigns that have delivered viral influence and thought leadership for brands and individuals alike. The company believes that effective influencer engagement is a science and should be approached accordingly.