Just as the Internet has democratized content creation, it has also made it possible for more people to become influencers. In the past, PR professionals focused on gatekeepers in traditional media — editors, journalists, and producers. Today we would be remiss if we didn’t include influential bloggers and social media mavens in our public relations and marketing efforts.
What Is Influencer Marketing
the process of developing relationships with influential people that can lead to their assisting you in creating visibility for your product or service. This type of marketing depends on your having something great to offer your potential customers, and the audience of the influencer, and it also depends on your building a great relationship with the influencer as well.
In other words, influencer marketing is getting word out about your product through people who are influential to your target market.
Most people assume that influencers are bloggers. In fact, having a popular blog is one of the indicators of influence. But influence is more than having a large audience. Expertise, credibility, and relationship with their audience are also important things to consider, as this formula shows:
Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers
Why Do Influencer Marketing?
Because influencers have a wide audience reach, influencer marketing allows you to widen your exposure to new and more audiences. But the benefits of influencer marketing go beyond that.
Remember, influencers are credible and they have a strong, positive relationship with their audience. Followers know an industry leader wouldn’t jeopardize their reputation by promoting products that suck.
So when an influencer endorses or associates with you, it’s perceived as genuine and certainly much more believable than any other type of paid media.
Which brings us to the question…
Is Influencer Marketing Earned or Paid Media?
Many marketers make the mistake of treating influencer marketing as earned media. This was because, in the early days of blogging, bloggers were less savvy and most blogged out of passion, without any aspirations of making a living out of it.
But times have changed. Bloggers and social media leaders are much more savvy now. They value their time and they know their influence has value. So don’t think it’s enough to wine and dine influencers, send them free products, and sweet talk them into publishing your 100% original guest post. When you recognize the influencers’ value by compensating their time and work (blogging and social media marketing is work), the better your results will be. And the influencers will value you in return.
For more tips on influencer marketing, check out the slides below (and watch out for me — I am one of the 40 PR professionals who shared tips).
Have you tried influencer marketing? What results did you get? Are you treating it as earned or paid media? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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