Navigating the Opaque World of Influencer Marketing

water-913367_1280Influencer marketing is not new. Celebrities have always been used by brand marketers and PR professionals to drive interest and create brand loyalty by association. It definitely works; if it didn’t, it would have died long ago.

Where influencers are different is that they are self-made celebrities. No fashion show, film or TV appearances are behind them (initially). Many have used Youtube and other social media to build up a huge following. Once they begin to sway interest and opinions, brands crown them as bankable celebrities.

They also make a lot of money. Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) leads with $12 million last year. Michelle Phan, online beauty guru, rakes in $3 million a year. But it’s a competitive life, as an entire world’s population is out there ready to be the next influencer.

For some traditionalists, influencer marketing comes across as pure capitalism. And it is. There is also nothing wrong with it. Surveys have shown that followers of influencers do realize that product is being peddled, and they also realize it is a paid advertisement of sorts. It’s just that they prefer the person presenting it instead of having someone with whom they have no emotional investment.

Some points to consider when getting into influencer marketing:

  1. Higher fees do not guarantee campaign success. Today, many influencer fees are set by the influencers themselves. It’s magic and not a formula. Just because you pay a huge sum, does not mean your product or service will gain traction. A bit of research on who those followers are can go a long way.
  2. Get the marketing/PR strategy right first, then engage the influencer. After all, it is your brand and product that you are looking to promote. With influencers, you are putting a face to it, reaching out to a direct audience and hoping to gain traction by association. But no matter how good the delivery or how famous the influencer, it will not fix bad strategy.
  3. Be flexible to work with up and coming influencers. It is a dog-eat-dog world out there. New influencers are constantly being created every day. Don’t be afraid to engage with one that is up and coming, as his/her momentum could ramp up your brand equity and messaging velocity. [bctt tweet=”No matter how good the delivery or how famous the influencer, it will not fix bad strategy #PR”]

Influencer marketing is here to stay. It is currently a very opaque segment, but new websites like Whopaysinfluencers are trying to add more transparency. Nevertheless, influencer marketing should be part of your PR or marketing strategy. You can also bet your competition is already working with one.