The Pros and Cons of Influencer Marketing

With the evolution of media channels, especially the rise in digital and social platforms, a new breed of individual has emerged: the social media influencer.

Part thought leader, part celebrity, part analyst … social media influencers can wield tremendous influence over their followers as they share their opinions on current events, new brands or places to experience.

The concept of third-party validation and endorsement is certainly not new. In fact, Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising says that 83 percent of people trust the recommendations of friends and family over traditional ads. If a veteran food writer says a new restaurant is a must-try, it will be packed for weeks. And now, a popular Instagrammer touting the cool features of the latest gadget can elicit that same result over their followers.

So, how do you harness their power while maintaining control of your brand story?

Keep in mind the differences between earned media and paid media. While influencer marketing can generate 11 times the ROI of traditional advertising – influencers are, in many cases, paid for their coverage or opinion. On the other side of the spectrum, earned media coverage (as in, a TV segment or a feature story in a magazine) remains one of the most powerful ways to position your brand as a leader in its field and build credibility.

If you’re contemplating including influencer marketing in your overall communications strategy, remember these key considerations:

  • Choose an influencer smartly. Does his or her platform, tone and voice line up with your brand, and vice versa?
  • As PRSA states, “authenticity is key to influencer marketing success, but the lines are getting blurred with a heavy focus on paid influencer programs. The consequence is the true relationships get lost in the mix. Fundamentally, influencer marketing is about leveraging the credible voices of others to build awareness, consideration and take action around your brand or cause.”
  • What kind of partner are you looking to work with? Consider micro influencers – those who have 10,000 followers or less – as they typically engage with their followers on a deeper level. On Instagram, you’re 10 times more likely to get a like or comment using a micro influencer compared to an influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers.

Influencers have the unique opportunity to share a variety of brand messages using various approaches. Take care in choosing the right opportunities to best amplify your messages.

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