by Eva Mitchell
Social media is one of the largest platforms organisations use to promote their brand. Consumer awareness of social brand endorsements is rapidly rising due to the multitude of promotional content channelled through all social platforms. Think about it – you look on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and it is awash with sponsored posts, celebrity endorsements and product placements.
So how can companies use social media without falling into blur of ‘PR content’ that is now increasingly seen disengaging the social media savvy consumers?
The growth of Micro Influencers
“Micro-influencers are not traditional celebrities, but rather individuals who work in their category or are truly knowledgeable, passionate and authentic and are seen as a trusted source when it comes to recommendations for what to buy.” (Full study available at Experticity)
PR professionals are currently obsessed with the likes of Deliciously Ella, Zoella and Joe Wicks the Body Coach and the reason is their opinion leader status amongst the social media generation. Social influencers have over-taken celebrities when it comes to promoting on social platforms as consumers regard them as more trustworthy according to the Chattered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). In fact, according to latest research consumers perceive influencers to be 13% more credible and trustworthy in product recommendations and 12% more knowledgeable about products compared to an average person on social media. Consumers are actively listening to the authoritative voices of influencers because, with such a wide variety of information available being so easily accessible, authentic and truthful advice is in demand.
Mutually beneficial PR/Influencer relationships
Without a doubt, influencers are a powerful PR and Marketing tool. Their genuine passion for an area of interest combined with creative entrepreneurial skill make them the perfect target for brand endorsement. For a relationship between a brand and an influencer to be successful for both parties, there should be an immediate connection and shared fundamental roots in both side’s creative processes. I suppose it can be seen like speed dating – if the brand and influencer do not seem to connect instinctively, there will be clashes and possible reputation damage down the line.
A successful brand ambassador has to have creative control with only slight input from the organisation over their promotion of the product or service. As mentioned, the success and reputation of an influencer over target audiences depends on their authenticity, so when an influencer is directed and shaped by a brand they start to lose the trustworthy advice-style originality.
Ultimately, are Influencers a reliable PR tool?
A recent warning being speculated by the ethical UK bodies of PR over the use of influencers is their damage to a brand’s reputation through association. As an organisation, in effect you are giving your brand image over to an external party to manage and promote, without having the same responsibilities or commitment to the company its communication team has.
It is true to say the use of influencers on social media is not a new PR tool. In fact, many recognisable organisations use influencers as successful brand ambassadors. This means however, that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the difference between promoted/ sponsored content and an influencer’s authentic creations. So in order to protect the reputation of both the brand and influencer, it is vital that creative collaboration continues to develop and change the way in which promotional messages are channelled to the consumer.
Tips for micro-influencer relations:
- Do your research – Before approaching any blogger or influencer it is vital to perform a thorough background search into their opinions and style of communication. As much as a creative personality and original style are great for endorsements, the influencer needs to appeal to all the organisation’s target audience and not be seen to discriminate. It is also worth looking into any previous product collaborations or promotions they have done and checking these do not conflict with the key messages your organisation promotes.
- Make sure the influencer matches the product- As mentioned, if the influencer does not appeal to your target audience, the endorsement will have limited success. Be sure to research their audience demographics in order to analyse the correlations and similarities within both party’s target/ aspirational consumers.
- Set clear brand guidelines – In summary, an organisation’s brand and image is carefully nurtured and developed by a communications team. There is a risk connected with using micro-influencers. As being free agents, they can tarnish or change a reputation through association. Therefore, it is important when initialising the brand endorsement to clearly highlight the company values and messages and the importance of keeping these intact.
This blog post was created by a 2nd Year PR student, originally published on her work blog. For further information on how Red Tree Public Relations could help your company with blogger activity please visit www.redtreepr.com.