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As traditional public relations channels like print media readership and television viewership continues to decline, PR agencies and in-house public relations teams must find new and innovative ways to target audiences that spend the vast majority of their time on social media channels, platforms, and apps. In a previous article, we explored how this market shift toward digital content consumption, along with the rise of ad-blocking software, has led many PR agencies to use influencer marketing as a way to raise awareness and promote brands with customers. Now, public relations specialists are realizing why partnering with top social media influencers and influencer marketing agencies offers key advantages over traditional marketing strategies.
Social media influencers (e.g. YouTubers, Instagrammers, Viners, Snapchatters, bloggers, et. al.) command the attention of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers and engaged consumers. Any message an influencer sends or product he or she promotes is guaranteed to be seen and digested by a large, engaged audience, all of whom look to the influencer for social and lifestyle cues regarding tastes, trends, entertainment, and information.
Additionally, many top social media stars also operate in niche markets and interests (e.g. autos, travel, fashion, tech) which means that public relations efforts will be well received by large, engaged audiences who are already interested in the goods or services your brand offers.
For more information on how to choose the right social media star, check out our article, “5 Steps to Choosing the Right Brand Influencer.”
As audiences – especially Millennials, as Daniel Newman from Forbes points out – continue to rebuff traditional advertising, more consumers are looking to Youtubers, Instagrammers, and Viners for relevant advice and information. Social media influencers often spend years developing a relationship with their followers, and consumers trust influencers because they’ve demonstrated their expertise in an honest, accessible, and relatable way.
Digital influencers can leverage their emotional connections with audiences to sway purchasing decisions, create brand loyalty, and inspire people to try new things. In a recent article, Inc. suggests that influencers are able to create emotional ties with followers by being genuine and trustworthy, and audiences typically think of YouTubers, Instagrammers, and popular bloggers as “good friends.” This emotional bond between digital stars and their followers is a vital aspect in campaign success. According to Luxury Daily’s article citing Forrester Research, emotions, not facts, played the biggest part in consumer purchasing decisions. Buyers are more likely to listen to their favorite bloggers, vloggers, YouTubers, and Instagrammers when they’re looking for trusted recommendations and credible information.
To see why social engagement matters for sponsored social media, read our article here.
According to research firm McKinsey, word-of-mouth (defined as one consumer speaking to another consumer, either digitally or face-to-face) is the primary factor behind up to 50% of all purchasing decisions. As traditional media channels and viewership rapidly declines, PR agencies need to reach audiences that don’t watch television, read magazines, or listen to the radio anymore. Marketing with social media stars provides a way to get brand-related news and information in front of a targeted audience. Allowing the right YouTuber or Snapchatter to break a story, debut a new product, make an announcement, or speak at an industry function about your brand is an effective way to transmit information.
To learn more about the 5 different types of social and digital influencers, check out our article here.
Traditionally, public relations has been the yin to the advertising department’s yang. Whereas many advertisers present overtly biased information about a product, service, or individual, PR attempts to persuade audiences by taking a journalistic, fact-based approach to marketing through press releases, white papers, research studies, and other objective avenues. Now, PR agencies are discovering that influencer marketing represents both sides of the marketing coin, as reputable YouTube stars, Instagrammers, and other digital influencers can combine objective public relations material with creative, engaging storytelling.
While it’s difficult to quantify the reach and impact of traditional press releases, speeches, and news articles, marketing with top social media stars provides real-time feedback on the success and share of campaign messaging. Not only can PR agencies measure engagement based on “likes,” “shares,” and “retweets,” but followers’ social comments and sentiment can inform marketers about an audience’s values and priorities, spurring immediate optimization in marketing campaigns to changes in a brand’s products and services themselves.
To see how top brands and PR agencies execute standout influencer marketing campaigns, check out our 10-step whitepaper guide here.