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Can influencers deliver real value to brands or are we looking for unicorns?

“Celebrity sell” has been for many years an axiom in sales. Even today it remains at the core of corporate communications for several companies. But we’ve gradually moved on, from the celebrity constellation to the era of influencers, an extended circle of individuals with exceptional appeal. Brands are always on the hunt for persons with charisma, who radiate with authenticity and familiarity, they rise from their communities and have immediate ties with the people who constitute those communities, and so are the best candidates to promote products and services that target those communities.
An influencer can tag along for the long haul and can be a much better ambassador for our brand, especially when our offerings cater to the lifestyle of the community they represent. Unlike a “traditional celebrity”,  an influencer tends to have genuine interest and sincere enthusiasm, qualities that will be immediately reflected in his outward image in an authentic and unadulterated way.
This image has a quantifiable impact on corporate communications and it’s critical to select the proper influencers who will become the “face” of our brand and represent our culture. This is a difficult task, since an influencer’s appeal is not merely measured only by the number of his followers, but also by the nature of the community he represents, and the depth his influence within this community.
Beyond the numbers
Large corporations can “recruit” big names, but it is admittedly very difficult to approach a big name like PewdiePie or Casey Neistat. After all, it is much better to go for a local influencer, who will literally…speak the language of his audience. A local influencer with a few thousand followers is much more effective and valuable than an outsider with much more followers. This is also consistent with the traditional Public Relations theory according to which, news of local interest creates a more substantial footprint than international news, in a lot of cases.
For companies with small budgets, there are many alternatives, as they can “sail” in the waters of micro and nano influencers, i.e. those with limited number of followers, below 10,000 and 1,000 respectively. In fact, the smallest influencers can have greater impact and penetration in communities that are more closely linked through a common occupation or a particular lifestyle.
Why influencers are such a big deal in social media
Influencers have the advantage of communicating quickly and directly with their audience through social media and utilizing the mobility, accelerating the time of a project and consequently, the time that it takes for a message to spread to their audience. At the same time, this provides us with the advantage of not needing extra investments in creative assets, as influencers create a communication environment on the platforms they use, whether it is a personal website, a blog, a YouTube channel, an Instagram account etc.
Since the power of image is of great importance, our actions will look better if the influencer has to show something tangible with photo and video. At a time when it is easy to relay live video via YouTube, IGTV, Periscope etc., it is beneficial to have one or more influencers covering an event live, such as the inauguration of a new branch, the launch of a new product etc, as this will reach the final recipients we are interested in.
Video is the bread and butter of influencers’ communication, and this is where YouTube and IGTV reign, (IGTV being the answer of Instagram to YouTube and already has a huge resonance with 1 billion subscribers worldwide). As new generations are extremely familiar with these platforms, and turn their back on traditional advertising media, it is advisable to incorporate elements from this trend in our strategy.
Why things are (never) that simple
Where will we find all those wonderful influencers that will gladly work with us and spread our message? First, we should note the following:

  • Facebook is starting to decline in popularity, especially in younger demographics
  • New generations migrate to Instagram and YouTube
  • Communities such as gamers have their own environments, in Twitch or Discord servers’ private rooms

Communication managers will have, to some extent, think and act as influencers, to find out which social networks will get them the appropriate representatives for their brand.
The problems, especially for big brands, start the moment the influencer has to grasp the communicative approach and the values of the brand he is called to represent. Sometimes, the influencers are conscious of their size and influence, to the extent that it becomes their main profession. As a side effect, this can reduce the authenticity in their behavior. For instance, if a product placement,  is outside the context, the target group (followers) will realize that this is an advertisement and this may not yield the desired result.  As a result, cooperation can be proved to be more difficult.
Despite some difficulties and some expected problems that may arise, the cooperation with an influencer’s group can evolve into a medium – or even- long-term mutual relationship of appreciation, that will be extremely beneficial for both the brand and the influencer. Not to mention that the audience will be updated sooner, in a more direct and better way for the brands’ offers.
5 steps to secure a successful plan

  • Find influencers who are compatible to the brand, its philosophy and communication needs
  • Training on the fundamentals of brand communication and on the essential details of their market placement
  • Constant monitoring, coaching and immediate feedback on the produced content progress and how this fits to the brand’s over-arching strategy
  • A positive and direct attitude is a must for customer loyalty
  • Incorporate influencers in the overall corporate communications project and not only on social media

Would YOU like to investigate the possibilities of successfully incorporating influencers in your own brand communication strategy? we’ll be thrilled to discuss with you and create together a plan that will best leverage the impact of influencers, to enhance your corporate identity and promote your products and services.

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