As the popularity and pull of digital influencers and their sponsored (i.e. paid) content grows, seasoned PR pros may be left wondering how it all fits into their traditional media plans. Some of us may even feel like the mounting strength of influencers is a threat to earned media and the strategies publicists have relied on for years. But traditional media and digital influencers don’t need to be at odds- with a thoughtful strategy, both can help support your brand.
The key is to remember that each group offers something different. On one side of the coin, a journalist at a traditional media outlet (whether it’s print, online or broadcast) can be considered a bona fide expert in their field, and as a journalist, a neutral and objective source. On the flipside, consumers consider their favorite digital influencers more like friends, because they share their personal lives and opinions on their platforms. So an influencer’s endorsement of a product is more like the recommendation of a friend or relative. It’s the new “word of mouth,” which can be incredibly valuable for brands looking to gain awareness and credibility in the crowded marketplace.
So, how can you get the best of both worlds? Here are three considerations to get started:
Develop Organic Relationships
Look first to the bloggers and social media influencers who have already spoken about your brand organically. Develop and nurture these types of relationships the way you would with traditional media- pitch relevant stories, provide product samples, extend event invitations and host press trips. We launched a special program with a group of multicultural beauty YouTubers on behalf of our client Black Opal, sending quarterly product mailings of new and seasonal products. As a result, many of them shared our products on their social media platforms and incorporated them into their YouTube makeup tutorials, garnering big impressions. The next step: sponsored content. With sponsored content, you have the opportunity to work with an influencer to develop a program that’s more targeted to specific brand goals or a particular campaign. For us, that was a special film partnership. By supplying a fee to these influencers with whom we’d already established a relationship, we were able to work together with them to develop very specific content for this special initiative. The natural affinity they had for the brand and products was apparent in the content, making it much more genuine that it would have been for a first time user.
Do Your Research
Audience size is the most obvious metric to consider when researching potential influencer partners, but don’t stop there. Look closely at the engagement an influencer’s content receives–you want to work with someone who will spark meaningful conversations with your target audience. If someone has a large following, but limited interaction from their audience, they probably aren’t the best fit. This type of discrepancy is a red flag for purchased or fake followers. Be sure your demographics align and that they have high quality content. It should be well produced and match your brand’s esthetic for organic alignment. A vital question is: would a repost of the influencer’s content look right on your brand’s Instagram?
Expand The Association
Make your partnerships work harder for you and amplify the impact of your influencers by repurposing their content. We negotiate for exclusive images, videos and other content to post on brands’ platforms and arrange for influencers to drive their followers to them, which helps drive new traffic and followers to our owned content. Consider expanding your relationship with strong influencers beyond content development, leveraging them within the traditional media for expert interviews or hiring them as a spokesperson. We’ve partnered with bloggers to host Twitter takeovers, which have resulted in record engagement and community growth. Ready to take it even further? Big names like Adidas have used digital influencers in national television commercials while beauty brands like Lancôme, Clinique and many others have hired popular bloggers to host consumer events, drawing huge crowds.
In today’s world, ignoring digital influencers is no longer an option. Get in the game by starting small and using this new breed of media to supplement your traditional media plans.