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What is Influencer Marketing? It’s funny that this question is being addressed on the very popular public relations and media resource site/blog Muckrack.com.

Before I drop into pontification mode, this post is going to shed light on new tools for solid influencer-engagement strategies, which are useful for businesses striving to connect and activate a group of ‘influencers.’ The tips are provided by MuckRack, a subscription we use at my brand communications agency, which enables us to research how journalists engage with social media to report, research and even publish news.

So, first, my one-paragraph soapbox.

Photo: Tim Peterson

Verde‘s client roster has been served the option of Influencer Campaigns for two + years. Looking at this article and the reach of the source, www.MuckRack.com, it appears the concept has either gone viral or has become somewhat synonymous with public relations (PR). I’m by no means taking credit for this (I’m sure Al Gore invented Influencer Marketing, right?).

Verde’s founding markets happen to be a hand-in-glove-fit with influencer campaigns. Our media and influencers are steward-level loyal and enthusiastic about the products and services our client roster offers, because our clients make hte gear that enables them to live the lifestyle. It’s common for consumers who ascribe to the same level of stoke to follow our media/influencers on their respective ‘beats.’ Even sports marketing in our market is rife with influencer strategy. Our athletes and ambassadors are paid in gear and they evangelize about it to their physical regions and to their social media followers – if, and that’s a big I.F., they think the product is King.

Influencer engagement is a form of PR, if one were to loosely consider PR being the act of arming journalists (both professionally trained and ‘citizen’ variety) with what they  need to accurately cover a company, product, service or cause. It’s not a form of PR if you look at the practice through a more ethical lens of say, newspaper journalists. They historically can’t accept free gear to review or trips for that matter. But freelancers and mag journalists, and most certainly bloggers/influencers are much more open to getting care packages, testing gear and writing about it for many outlets. It’s becoming more the norm.

If a client is interested in having a larger voice in the “conversation” that’s occurring on Twitter, then an Influencer Campaign tied to that social platform is perfect. Today, however, Influencer Campaigns can cross a range of social platforms on behalf of a client, or a product, service or launch offering. It’s a bit dangerous however….It’s advertorial cloaked as editorial (meaning, the way we run these is to supply said influencers with product and invite them to participate in a schedule of social posts/interactions surrounding testing of the product). There’s a reason that year-over-year, consumers do trust their newspaper’s editorial, and that’s because there’s an ethical slant to the coverage that remains in place to date.

If done well and if ethics remain in the crosshairs, and if saved for just the right application, Influencer Marketing can be credible and strong. The governor is the reliance on the ‘influencer’ only engaging their following in something they believe in, and at a pace/rate that tempered enough to secure their reputation is not one of being “bought.”

Muckrack.com’s Influencer overview, Influencer Marketing is defined as:

 “… a marketing tactic where individuals select a group of highly respected and connected people in a given industry such as journalists, bloggers, consultants or industry analysts to influence prospective or current customers’ buying decisions.”

Photo: Crested Butte, Tim Peterson

The draw is leveraging the ‘reach’ of the influencer – essentially latching your wagon to their following. To approach an influencer, it’s best to study their reach and be highly respectful of working to grow their following and not taint their position in front of this following by buying them with product. MuckRack lists the following ideal benefits of Influencer Marketing:

  • Enables you to build your brand.
  • Expands your reach, leading to new visitors.
  • Is less expensive than mass advertising.
  • Allows you to reach your “sweet spot” audience.
  • Gives you the power to communicate your value proposition, offerings and background to a new audience, which can render qualified leads.
  • Enables you to piggyback off the credibility of the influencer, which leads to less customer objections and more sales.
  • Improves the efficiency of your PR campaigns, thus reducing direct marketing costs.
  • Extends the life of your campaign because brand influencer networks have an immeasurable lifetime value, meaning brands can use repeatedly over time.

Here’s the full article: http://muckrack.com/daily/2014/08/26/six-influencer-marketing-tools-for-pr-pros/

In it, you’ll find the five platforms that enable success for Influencer Marketing campaigns. How about you…. Are you interested in Influencer Marketing tactics to get your innovation, product, idea, book or community on the map?