At one point, they were simply called PRs and testimonials. PRs used to go around with their phonebooks between press offices, while testimonials filled TV screens and newspaper and magazine pages. Today, they are called digital PRs and influencers.
More than the substance, what has changed is the media they use. Both are key, in different ways, to getting more and more eyes on a brand’s products and services. While digital PRs are the marketing specialists of word of mouth, seeking to achieve positive recommendations, influencers are true stars of the web, intercepted by companies to promote the brand. They operate through social media: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, but also through good old blogging.
From bloggers and YouTubers through to Instagramers
The sector that set the digital PR and influencer marketing bonanza in motion was the fashion industry. It was through famous bloggers like Chiara Ferragni that a generation of aspiring fashion bloggers and Instagramers was formed. Today, YouTube is perhaps the realm of the most sought-after influencers by companies. One of these is PewDiePie: Swedish, class of ‘89, specializing in video games with a following of 30 million subscribers to his channel. A following that brings him in around $ 7 million per year from YouTube ads and private initiatives with companies.
Digital PR skills
In addition to theoretical knowledge, a true Digital PR professional specializes through their experience, allowing them to populate their address book with key contacts. What are the essential characteristics of a Digital PR?
- interest and curiosity, driving them to constantly seek out updates on new platforms and tools;
- a large contact book, allowing them to navigate around the network of relationships;
- online and offline presence in events and platforms that are involved in communication projects;
- multitasking and organization, to ensure efficiency and results in the little time available;
- writing skills to create compelling web content. As a bonus, it is important to have SEO skills and personal branding capability, perhaps through a personal blog;
- analysis, to be able to assess a campaign’s progress and results.
Listening and web reputation
Monitoring the network is critical for a digital PR: keeping up to date is the only way to create buzz around them and get into the best forums. For this, Google Alerts is a useful monitoring tool.
The next step is called influencer web reputation analysis which can be done with dedicated tools like Klout, offering precise data on the prestige and influence they exert on their community.
Influencer marketing strategy: 5 tips
Influencer marketing is a set of activities that cannot be just thrown together by sending emails, invitations and gifts. It demands analysis and planning. Here are some guidelines to get to grips with the basics.
Listen, get informed and set your goals
Even before finding the right influencer for your brand, it is essential to have an in-depth understanding of the context in which you want to nurture your relationships with customers: “listening” is a key word in any marketing activity, as it is key to knowing what is being said about your brand. Once this is done, you need to set out the communication project, determining the needs you want to fulfill.
Track and seek out the profile of your influencer
Finding the right influencers with an analytical and strategic approach is paramount. There are multiple aspects to consider when looking for the best identikit. Here are the most important ones:
audience: the people you want to reach with the voice of the influencer, through websites, blogs and social media;
resonance: the reach of the message and its ability to achieve widespread dissemination;
relevance and participation: the consistency of the message with your marketing project and interactions you build up.
Based on your needs, you can shift the focus from one aspect to another. For example: if your priority is to be horizontal, to embrace the widest possible audience of recipients, you could spend more time on the audience. Whereas, if you’re looking for verticality, focusing more on a specific market segment, then you might want to prioritize relevance.
Nurture the relationship
The “human factor” is crucial. The role of the influencer should not be seen by the operator in a machine-like way; they make relationships their passion and craft. Excessive formality and disjointed correspondence with only occasional interactions are counterproductive. Restricting communications to a merely professional relationship is not helpful. On the other hand, interaction and engagement (with a bit of spontaneity) will help to make the project more successful on both sides.
Consider their true value
Without an adequate budget, it’ll be more difficult to achieve productive collaborations that result in posts, articles, videos or participation in an event. Influencers, like any other professional partner, should be remunerated for their work. “Influence” is the bonus that only they can provide: a potential that should be rewarded for its true value.
But even without sky-high budgets, it is possible to launch interesting projects. You might not be able to afford a world-leading influencer, but you can still count on a voice that can boost the performance and ROI of your campaign.
Amplify the viral effect with a hashtag
Flexible and cross-media, hashtags are perfect connecting elements to spread a trend on a wide scale, making it bounce between all social networks. Creating a hashtag for your campaign launched in collaboration with your influencers, lets you create a center of gravity for all actions you produce, including those of other opinion leaders.