When I first cut my teeth in the world of PR, large glossy print publications still reigned supreme, Instagram had yet to be created and RFPs and PR plans were absent of the word “influencer.”
Flash forward 15+ years and enter the new frontier of public relations, where ‘celebrity spokesperson’ is a tactic of the past and ‘social influencer’ is placed on the pedestal. According to Business Insider, by 2022, brands are projected to spend up to $15 billion – that’s billion with a “b” folks, on influencer marketing.
Of course, just picking the “influencers” you or your team follows is not a strategy, even if it makes your own Insta, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest feeds more interesting to you. As we put the final touches on clients’ 2020 PR plans here at Double Forte, and with influencer engagement continuing to grow year over year, we bring to you key best practices for and advantages of orchestrating influencer campaigns.
At Double Forte, we are big proponents of strategically enlisting social influencers – both paid and unpaid – for most, if not all, of our client’s public relations efforts. You can read more here and here.
Why? Well for one, influencers typically reach the coveted millennial consumer and depending on the number of followers and level of engagement they have established; some influencers can be much more cost effective than a typical celebrity.
With all of these positives about working with influencers, equally important, is highlighting the more abstract components.
5 Things To Consider For Influencer Campaigns
1. Paid Influencer Posts Are NOT Advertising. Yes, if you’re paying an influencer, you have significant control over they message they convey. However, paid influencer campaigns are not advertising: you can’t dictate image, theme, colors, or all post copy.
2. Timing is Everything. Influencer campaigns deliver more editorial-style placement on your schedule. Today earned media opportunities are fewer and harder-to-get. Also, even though reporters and editors may have written and approved stories about your company or client, unless it’s breaking news, story placement timing may be a long time coming. Actual story post timing is dictated by so many factors out of our, or the client’s control — especially in an election year.
Paid social influencer campaigns provide much more control regarding the timing of the news being shared, the message being conveyed to readers/followers, and the audience being reached. For clients who have a very specific time frame for when they want to generate coverage or get ahead of competitive news, influencer campaigns offer a big advantage.
3.Make Sure The Influencer is Willing To Become Knowledgeable About Your Product. Our offices were abuzz earlier last fall when Healthyish published an article shedding light on how brands – wellness brands specifically – are failing to train their influencer partners appropriately. Too many companies are prioritizing the partner being “on-brand,” but really, the first priority should be confirming that the partner is knowledgeable about the product.
4. Your Influencer Partners Must Comply With FTC Guidelines. Last year, the FTC announced new guidelines influencers need to adhere to when disclosing their relationship to the brands they are promoting. Ultimately, we applaud these guidelines, and think this creates demand for much needed transparency and provides a more level playing field for all companies, regardless of size or budget.
5. Instagram Likes Are Going Away – Measurement Will Change. As Entrepreneur reports, the big recent shake-up is the “hiding likes” test that Instagram is trying with some users. When considered through the lens of a general consumer we like the idea of hiding likes – especially from a mental health perspective. It does cause confusion and trepidation though, as it relates to brands and influencers. It’s still too early to know just how much this will affect PR and marketing campaigns, but we are keeping a watchful eye, and will evolve our measurement strategy as the impact of Instagram’s decision is better understood.
As you continue to map out strategies and tactics for your clients or your brand, remember the key advantages and pitfalls of working with influencers. Prioritize transparency, authenticity and proper on-boarding of your partners, and the your campaign will generate better results. We have no doubt we’ll be “liking” your post on Instagram soon – hidden or not.
– Emily Smith