How to Harness the Power of Influencers Beyond Traditional PR

From the early days of user-generated content through today’s blogs and social media networks, the power of influence is no longer just the privilege of traditional media outlets, journalists and celebrities. Publishers are springing up everywhere—and as the number of influencers with their own blogs and social platforms has increased, the rulebook has been thrown out and the playing field has been leveled.

Today, young school kids, middle-aged parents and even the occasional genetically blessed pets are getting in on the action. It seems nothing can hold one back from becoming a star online.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen more and more marketers jumping on the bandwagon to leverage this new breed of publisher, exploring ways of working with influencers to promote their products, services or brands. As a result, specialized agencies have cropped up to help brands identify influencers while tracking the impact of specific partnerships and calculating the ROI. In fact, eMarketer reports that the majority of marketers in the US are planning to increase their influencer spend in 2017.

However, influencer marketing could be at risk of losing its appeal—an issue that’s generated much discussion in the digital PR and marketing industry over the past few months. Questions are being raised about the legal restrictions to social promotion, how to identify actual influencers, and how much value a stand-alone Instagram post really brings to a business.

As the costs of influencer brand partnerships, reviews and event attendance quickly rise, one Instagram post alongside a #Fitsagramer hashtag is no longer enough. It needs to do more—and prove its value.

There’s a wealth of stats that can tell you the power of an influencer endorsement over an ad. MuseFind, for example, claims 92% of millennials trust an influencer over an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. That being said, the questions around ROI have arisen simply because marketers are calling time on the campaign right at the starting line.

Getting the right Instagram post or Pinterest board curated isn’t the end goal, it’s only the beginning. So no wonder many marketers are questioning the value of influencer marketing.

For great content to reach its full potential, it all comes down to amplification. This is something brands are becoming experts at with their owned content, but missing out on when it comes to earned media.

Smart marketers know that a blog post on the company website isn’t left alone to organically grow an audience. Well, the same is true for an influencer post. Yes, you can reach your chosen influencer’s dedicated 10,000-plus followers, but are you discoverable otherwise?

The real value is in sharing influencers’ unique voices with new audiences, those equally dedicated readers in other environments who want to discover more. Importantly, with an amplification partner, the value of influencer content gains tangible, measureable results.

It seems so simple and something we’re increasingly talking about with our clients at Outbrain. But there are thousands of influencer engagement campaigns sitting with PR agencies or in-house marketing teams that are missing an opportunity to amplify this valuable coverage.

Going beyond organic reach is acknowledged and celebrated by the PR industry. In fact, the PRCA Digital Awards now recognize the “Best Use of a Specific Platform in a Campaign.”

In the ever-evolving world of communications and advertising, the most successful brands make sure all avenues are harnessing the best tools and thinking creatively about placement—whether the content is owned or earned.

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