The first four articles in our “How to Become the Best Modern Communicator” series have covered how communications strategies and tools have changed over recent years, and how the mix of earned, paid, and owned media has shifted.
Previous articles in this series
A recent arrival in the earned media (and sometimes paid media) category is the influencer. Brands that work with blog, video, or social media influencers have the potential to reach an even wider audience organically and leverage the credibility and equity the influencers have built with their audiences. But how does influencer marketing fit in with the rest of the marketing mix, and how can it complement and extend the value delivered from traditional paid and owned marketing campaigns?
In the fifth article in the series, Steve Arentzoff, Cision VP of digital marketing, and Nick Bell, Cision VP of marketing communications, weigh in.
Paid, earned, or owned – where do influencers fit?
Bell: Actually, influencer marketing involves a little of all three. From the earned perspective, influencers can find your product and write about it with no prompt from you, or you can pitch them the way you do journalists. The resulting coverage is earned without monetary compensation.
Arentzoff: True. And some influencers charge for their services, so that bleeds over into paid media. We recognize that the time and effort influencers put into working with your product, taking photos of it, writing and posting a review to their blog, and promoting it on social media is time that deserves to be compensated.
Plus, you can share testimonials and reviews from influencers on your own website to leverage this investment through your owned media. So, Nick is right: Influencer marketing really involves all three types of media. The key to maximizing all three media types in campaigns is to build integrated campaigns that can leverage each media in the best way while building the tactical campaign elements appropriate for each delivery channel.
Influencers can find your product and write about it with no prompt from you, or you can pitch them the way you do journalists. The resulting coverage is earned without monetary compensation.
However, what is surprising to many marketers is technology now supports the ability to target audiences directly in each type of media as well as the measurement of campaign results from each media.
The roles measurement and technology play in influencer marketing
Bell: Just like with any marketing or PR campaign, the results you get from influencer marketing are essential for helping you shape future campaigns. If you spend $10,000 sending product to dozens of influencers with small audiences and only see an ROI of $500, you’re clearly putting your energy into the wrong influencer channels. You might be better off investing $50,000 working with one or two high-profile influencers who charge for their services but who can deliver better results and reach and help engage the audience you most want to reach.
Micro-influencers and high-profile influencers both have value. The trick is first identifying your intended audience and the influencers who regularly create content that is consumed by this audience before engaging with influencers. You want to see who influences your audience and then backtrack to inform your influencer marketing and media relations strategies.
Influencer marketing really involves all three types of media [paid, earned, and owned]. The key to maximizing all three media types in campaigns is to build integrated campaigns that can leverage each media in the best way while building the tactical campaign elements appropriate for each delivery channel.
Arentzoff: Identifying the right influencers and engaging with them to generate meaningful earned media campaigns that deliver real results for your business is not always easy. While you can manually search for influencers and collect contact information from their websites, it is a whole lot easier to use a database that will help identify the influencers who are right for each of your campaigns. Plus, influencer databases are typically updated frequently, so you get access to the most up-to-date contact details as well as editorial calendars that can help you with your pitches, thus increasing the odds of coverage.
Diversifying your communications strategy to get results
Bell: For many companies, influencer marketing is still a new concept. It’s like social media was 10 years ago: They’re waiting to see if this thing is going to stick. Well, it is! Influencer marketing is complementary to other aspects of a well-rounded marketing strategy like social media, blogging, and PR. I recently got a bird’s-eye view of just how well it can work when I judged the influencer marketing category of the upcoming PRWeek Awards. Brands of all sizes and types (both B2B and B2C) are investing heavily in this area and, frankly, I was amazed at both the creativity and results companies are achieving with their influencer marketing programs. You can see for yourself when the winners are announced, and you can then review the entries…and get some good ideas for your own influencer marketing efforts.
And now that there are tools that help you get granular in measuring results, comms pros don’t have to struggle to get buy-in on influencer budgets like they used to. I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold in terms of how prevalent influencer marketing becomes on a larger scale.
Five ways to work with influencers
- Product review blog post or video
- Product giveaway
- Mention on social media
- Product placement in video
- Product photos on Instagram