The rise in digital influencer marketing cannot be ignored; influencers are the new pseudo-celebrities and brand advocates – and they have pre-existing audiences that are just waiting to be tapped.
At Durrell Communications, we successfully engage influencers as part of larger earned and paid media strategies to help generate excitement around products, services or ideas – and the fabulous brands behind them. We have learned a lot about the value of working with unique personas, and how to ensure the right client-influencer fit.
While influencers with a high number of followers might be the natural go-to, don’t underestimate or overlook micro-influencers (those with 100,000 followers or much, much fewer).
Micro-influencers often get their start from a place of truth. In many cases, they have built their following organically by sharing a genuine interest or passion. Typically, their passions, lifestyle, and personal values are closely align. This means that influencers can be very discerning about the brands they choose to work with. The brand must help spell out the larger message they’re trying to convey.
Though influencers may not be professionally-accredited subject matter experts, they are sometimes the first to try before-market products so that fans can make easier, well-informed decisions rooted in a basis of trust. Fans live vicariously through the influencers they love.
So how do you leverage micro-influencers as part of an effective public relations campaign targeting specific audience segments? Follow our practical tips:
It’s very common to look at the number of followers an influencer has as a signpost for a successful campaign – but we have learned not to discount the interconnectedness of micro-influencers. This is especially beneficial if you are planning a local event or campaign for a client. Engaging local micro-influencers can help generate community-based goodwill for your client.
Check Engagement Levels
In our experience and through our research, micro-influencers engage with their audiences at a greater frequency than their more aptly-followed cousins. Frequent (and meaningful) engagement is critical for budding influencers that are trying to build their following in an arguably competitive space. You could always test the theory and try engaging with them yourself! Trying leaving a comment on their recent-most Instagram post, for example. An optimal response time is no more than one day.
Look for Values Alignment
By digging through past content, and pinpointing themes, it should be relatively easy to get a sense of the influencer’s interests and values. Check if they have a website. Make sure their values closely align with those of your client.
Check for Disclosure
In Canada there are no hard and fast disclosure guidelines, but it is still considered professional conduct for influencers to disclose paid content. This is because disclosure is so closely tied to personal integrity and reputation. Check to see if influencers fully disclose paid opportunities. If something seems awry, exercise caution. You don’t want your agency (and client’s) reputation tied to a dishonest influencer.
Develop a Ranking System
We often use our own ranking criteria to solidify a good influencer-client match. This also helps narrow down our selection to the best of the best.
Be Memorable: Make a Personalized Connection
At DCOMM, making the initial connection is our jam. Whether we’re connecting with the media or with influencers for the first time, we make our introductions as personalized as possible. For example, mention how a post of theirs really resonated with you, and why it matters. This helps create a genuine and buildable rapport – and influencers like to see that you’ve taken the time to research what they do.
Keep Connections in a Database
It can be easy to lose track of whom you’ve already built a relationship with. We like to keep databases of our warm leads – but not just names and contact info. Go deeper. Record the details of the initial connection, making sure to link relevant content that was referenced. That way, if you want to reconnect with an influencer in a year’s time, you can mention how your agency initially reached out. Typically, based on our experience, they do remember you – and that first reach-out.
Keep in Mind:
- Most influencers do not work for free. Though some micro-influencers may be willing to do pro bono work, in most cases, you will either need to negotiate a price or stick to their baseline fees.
- Contracts are an opportunity for your agency and the influencer to clearly define the parameters of the agreement as well as the performance expectations.
- Influencer agencies can be a wellspring of info, but you will be paying additional fees to engage with influencers through an agency. Doing your own research is always the best way to get the most current information about an influencer.
The bottom line: When it comes to working with influencers, the follower count isn’t the final arbiter of a successful campaign or not. We love micro-influencers for their earned reputation, interconnectedness, and community ties. And who knows, maybe they will become your new best friend!
Holly is a media and public relations assistant with Durrell Communications. Helping the media team hustle for a range of clients in the high tech and finance industries, she pitches reporters regularly (and yes, influencers) and helps clients tell their story in memorable ways. She’s also an avid thrifter who loves all things Parisian.