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Influencer marketing as part of your public relations

The pre-eminence of social media and the digital connectivity of the internet have increased the stakes of influencer marketing. In the integrated digital arena that we now work within, influencer relations is an area that PR people should be great at; it’s a skill set that should be natural for PR people. We recently held an event about influencer marketing with the lovely people at Text 100 exploring this very issue!

We were fortunate to be joined by some top-quality speakers, including:

  • Nick Masters, head of online, PwC
  • Tara O’Donnell, managing director UK, Text100
  • Siobhan Freeguard, founder, Channel Mum
  • Ben Kay, senior managing consultant, IBM Social Consulting

Here is a short video including the top-line thoughts of the speakers:

IBM’s Ben Kay kicked things off by looking at the evolution of social media into social business:

This evolution is put in sharp context when you consider the influence our peers have on purchasing decisions:

PwC's head of digital Nick Masters then talked us through a case study about how PwC has re-launched its annual report in a purely digital form.

I won’t talk though the detail about the make-up of the annual, as perhaps this isn't the best way to attract readers to this blog! But the learning point is the approach PwC used to its content. It completely ripped up anything done previously and produced content specifically for the digital form with its stakeholders and digital audience in mind. This doesn't sound particularly ground-breaking, but so much of the content we produce for social and digital channels is as a result of what has gone before rather than specifically focus on the requirements for digital.

PwC's content approach for its annual report:

The results of this approach were spectacular:

  • More use of traffic driven by social media in the first week of 2015 than in the whole of 2014.
  • More pages viewed in the first month and the whole of 2014.
  • Matched 2014 visitor traffic inside the first quarter.
  • 10% of traffic purely driven by social media.

The stats around social media visits by site section are also interesting:

Tara O’Donnell UK MD of Text 100 outlined what influence actually means in business:

Influencer campaigns must have a strategy behind an influencer campaign. To inform that strategy brands need to ask:

  • Who do I want to reach?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What does success look like?

Tara added that "Building influence almost always starts by listening, it also takes time."

It’s important to remember that engaging people requires people. It's very difficult to do it through automation, probably impossible.

The key is to provide relevant content and experiences and communicate at regular touch points. Authenticity is vital.

Finally Siobhan Freegard founder of Channel Mum and previously of Netmums talked about the other side of the equation, from the perspective of those who influence.

Siobhan has recently launched Channel Mum which is a website channel for mummy vloggers.

Siobhan talked about how PR people need to engage with vloggers. To be successful it’s important they help them create video content to harness the power of their peer-to-peer influence and therefore build brand and product advocacy.

Good vloggers are highly influential and for them to put together a decent vlog can take them up to half a day, so Siobhan argued, why should vloggers give up this time in return for £20 worth of free product? They are not going to do it, and why should they? So it’s massively important to connect with partners and influencerswho genuinely resonate with your market. A one-approach-for-all methodology simply will not work.

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