Influencer relations is a fairly recent addition to the marketing mix. Bloggers, YouTubers and social media personalities, or ‘influencers’ as they are collectively known, are presenting new opportunities for brands to reach customers on a more authentic level. At the same time, they are creating quite a lot of headaches as both sides navigate this new form of outreach marketing.
This blog post is a guide to how to work with influencers based on my experience of working in the PR and media industries for 20 years, and more recently, as an award-winning travel blogger.
Why work with influencers
When your business is already juggling a PR and marketing plan that includes advertising, direct mail, social media, media relations and website content, why would you add influencer relations to the mix too?
It’s a good point – your time is precious. But the way people make their buying decisions today is heavily effected by the information they consume online. As well as reading about a holiday company or destination in its marketing literature and on its website, consumers search for third party reviews.
TripAdvisor, Trust Pilot and Feefo are obvious places to go, but also popping up in Google search results are influencer reviews. Sometimes people won’t even be searching the internet; they may have a review or endorsement appear in their Facebook or Instagram feeds because they follow influencers.
It’s this access to consumers whenever and wherever they are, that makes working with influencers such a compelling marketing channel. Reading a review from an independent influencer, who someone has followed because they relate to them, can have much greater impact on purchasing decisions.
People make purchases based on emotions. So no matter how many facts you give them about why your offer is the best, an authentic view on your products and services will resonate more with your potential customers as they evaluate their options.
How do influencers work?
Influencers create content that walks people through what they are going to get. They answer questions, and provide information in a voice that the reader can relate to.
They may even be a bit critical, weighing up the pros and cons. All of this, hosted on an independent platform makes them more authentic and trust-worthy than any marketing literature.
Influencers can produce this content from attending events, going on press trips, or by using a brief you provide.
What can you expect from working with an influencer?
There’s almost no limit to the type of content you can expect to see generated from a relationship with an influencer. It all comes down to thoroughly researching them, their capabilities and availability before you strike a deal.
Doing this and making sure everyone knows what is expected will avoid disappointment on both sides. Common content produced includes blog posts, videos and social media posts. You may be looking for one of these things or a package.
The outcomes from working with influencers can be measured in pieces of content, social media reach and engagement, click-throughs to your website, new subscribers, downloads, and brand awareness.
Sales themselves can be difficult to track as consumers are more likely to look at influencer reviews and content in the research and evaluation stage before proceeding to make a purchase. Many other factors can help push them down the sales funnel before they get to the point of parting with their hard earned cash.
If you want hard and fast evidence that working with an influencer has generated sales then the onus is on you to analyse this at the point at which people make a purchase. Tracked links, dedicated landing pages, and personalised discount codes can help achieve this.
However, don’t forget where influencers feed into the sales funnel – their blogs, YouTube channels and social media sites are not booking platforms.
Something that’s really important before you engage an influencer is to be clear about your objectives so you can adequately track the return on your investment.
What will a successful influencer collaboration look like to you? This comes back to the pieces of content you’d like to see produced and brand awareness you’d like achieved.
I’ll be writing more about picking the right influencers to work with and how to measure the success of working with influencers in a future post.
Are you wondering whether an influencer relations campaign could support your business marketing plans? Get in touch to talk through how I can help you work with influencers.
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