As digital content consumption continues to grow, PR pros are always looking for ways to target specific audiences through social media. We know the power that social media campaigns can wield – from amplifying earned media that PR generates to marketing products. And adding influencers to the mix can boost those PR efforts exponentially.
Influencers who resonate with a specific segment help brands stay relevant by cutting through the digital noise. The blend of social media reach and trust in specific personalities can really amplify a campaign. Read on to find out how to craft the best collaboration.
The splashiest influencer marketing campaigns tend to be in beauty, fashion, and other lifestyle sectors, but don’t count it out for B2B PR. Many B2B categories, like software, have long selling cycles where customers spend significant time learning about products and services. Educational or service-oriented content that shares expertise is typically a big part of a B2B PR program, and that’s where expert influencers come in. A business leader or subject-matter expert (SME) who posts content in the form of bylined pieces, white papers, blog posts, or explainer videos can help differentiate a company and add personality to its brand.
In nearly any category peer recommendations can play a pivotal role in a buying decision. Ninety percent of people are more likely to trust others they see when scrolling through their feed versus a traditional marketing post by a brand that’s clearly pushing a product or service.
Influencers typically spend a significant amount of time – in most cases, years – building a relationship with a base of fans or followers. Their credibility (or lack of it) stems from how they show expertise while remaining relatable. The most successful will leverage their emotional connections with audiences to create brand loyalty and inspire people to try something new.
As engagement with traditional media channels like TV, radio, and print has declined, marketing with influencers offers a natural and low-pressure way to get brand-related information in front of a targeted audience.
Micro-influencers have between 5,000 to 100,000 followers and may operate in niche markets. Some will even have higher engagement and conversion rates compared to mega influencers with millions of followers, due to their perceived authenticity. These smaller-scale influencers can also be powerful for B2B PR efforts, where they offer the advantages of lower costs and the ability to generate social engagement that is more tightly focused in vertical sectors like financial services or business technology, for example.
Working with micro-influencers is also a way to manage risk and stretch a marketing or PR budget. A group of micro-influencers with small, but highly engaged audiences might be a wiser investment than partnering with a single, more expensive mega- influencer, and there’s always the flexibility to ramp up or down as things progress.
The right fit is essential to a successful influencer campaign. Brands and their PR teams should look for the right partner based on a highly engaged following rather than a dazzling follower count. Here are other factors to keep in mind:
Look through the influencer’s content to see how it aligns with your messaging. The content and the audience of the influencer far outweigh the amount of traffic they receive.
Engagement is indicative of how frequently an influencer’s audience engages with their content. Frequency of fan engagement is a key sign of meaningful relationships.
Though it can actually be overrated, reach is a valid metric, and the trend line of an influencer’s reach is an important factor in planning a future relationship. It’s also vital to keep in mind the platforms prioritized by the target audience, of course. B2B brands will want to reach industry decision-makers who are typically more engaged on Twitter and LinkedIn, while consumer marketers may want to focus on Instagram or Snap.
High-quality content posted on a consistent basis correlates with the traffic and a higher rate of returning visitors, which, in turn, this increases audience engagement and reach.
Influencers with a smaller ratio of sponsored content appear more authentic and are more trusted by their audiences. Personal anecdotes with natural mention of a brand are also a good idea, as they often hold more weight than a review.
It’s also a good idea to see if a potential influencer has strong relationships with other influencers, and if so, how their respective audiences overlap. The overlap between their audience and yours is a key indicator of whether a campaign or long-term partnership will offer a high return-on-investment.
Explore the type of content that potential influencers publish and compare it with your audience’s preferences and behaviors.
Creating content with an influencer is a great way to build a relationship. Here are some ideas:
– Host a live Q&A
– Hold a webinar with an influencer as the host
– Write a series or blog together
– Record a podcast episode
Match metrics like reach and share of voice with your overall PR goals to examine the impact of your influencer.
Once the collaboration begins, it’s time to focus on building and strengthening relationships with your followers. Offering valuable content on a regular basis will lay a foundation, while aligning with an expert or influencer will deepen the engagement and build trust over time.