Today more than ever a fully integrated marketing approach is essential to reaching the right audience, at the right time with the right message. Because both public relations and social media share similar important qualities – chief among them the ability to share vital content of interest to your audiences – these two disciplines go hand-in-hand.
In this blog post, we welcome Britton Edwards, a social media veteran and currently the Director of Client Relations at the award-winning Everywhere Agency.
Britton shares her insights on the importance of social media influencer campaigns, and how they can drive value for brands.
Q. Explain why social media influencer campaigns are so important today for both B2B and B2C marketing.
At the end of the day, influencers are essentially word of mouth marketing. I love to talk about influencers for B2B brands, because it’s really an untapped and very effective marketing tactic. For B2B companies, the influencer may be a real estate agent who can vouch for the effectiveness of a certain mortgage tool or a technology blogger who can validate the benefits of your company’s software. Influencers are important because today trust in brands is low and the general public can tune-out what looks like classic advertising. Finding relevant experts to talk about your business will cut through the clutter, and you get the added bonus of being able to promote that content through paid social media ads to your desired audience.
According to MarketingLand, the average sales cycle for B2B products is 6 months. This is much longer than the typical B2C product. However, the use of social media and influencers can cut that time down significantly.
It’s also important to remember that executives are on social media too. In fact, 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media when making purchases according to IDG. Social media serves as an essential tool to conduct research for potential opportunities and see social proof relevant to decision making.
Q. How does an influencer campaign support a PR program?
We think that influencers should be a part of your marketing plan, not your whole marketing plan. Influencers serve as a very important component of your overall marketing plan that help supplement and support social media, paid media, and contribute to increased awareness and engagement.
Content by real people, namely influencers, is more likely to be shared and consumed than brand-centric posts or advertisements.
64 percent of social media users seek out User Generated Content before making big purchase decisions. The content works even better when repurposed by the brand on social and/or used to create paid ads.
Influencer campaigns are easy to track and measure with software. There are a wide variety of metrics you can create to establish benchmarks such as impressions, reach engagements (shares, comments, likes), link clicks, conversion rates, etc. It is important that you create these benchmarks to experiment and grow the success of your campaigns. But remember not all metrics are created equal. Micro and nano-influencers, who typically have 5,000-100,000 followers, are typically going to have higher engagement rates than those with really large followings like celebrities. This is because you are able to reach an audience that aligns more closely with your target population. Additionally, this tactic won’t break the bank.
Q. What are a few key things to keep in mind when launching an influencer campaign?
First, you have to identify your goal. Influencers can educate niche audiences on programs, drive traffic, increase awareness, and provide the brand with high-quality content to reuse and repurpose. Influencers succeed more often when the campaign objectives are simple actions that can be taken from a mobile phone and in the moment – learn more, save for later, share, donate, purchase, etc. This function should help you when thinking about deliverables.
Second, it takes time to source the right influencers. Authentic stories are much more impactful than what is clearly copy and paste brand-speak, so sourcing the right brand partner is possibly the most important step. Some brands are able to do this in-house while others may need an agency to do the heavy lifting. Many times agencies handle everything — from sourcing and contracting to measuring ROI and approving content before it goes live on influencer channels. For many brands, this is a needed level of control to ensure brand safety.
When it comes to the numbers, impressions are important, but the engagement rate is even more important. It can indicate how relevant the content is, not just how many people saw it.
Lastly, you need to understand your target audience to know where they consume content online. Where will an influencer post be most likely to reach this audience? For example, knowing that interior designers use Pinterest will inform your strategy for where influencer content should live.
Q. What advice would you give to a brand that has not done an influencer campaign before?
All brands are different and what works for one may not work for all. Be open to testing influencers as a tool for various goals and take those learnings to do it better the next time.
Before launching any campaign you should familiarize yourself with FTC guidelines. Every time a brand works with an influencer and provides products, services, or payment for their endorsement, they must disclose that partnership by mentioning #ad or #sponsored in the caption of their post. Some big-name brands have gotten into trouble for not following the rules. At this point, people are very aware that influencers are promoting on behalf of a brand, so disclosure is appreciated and not something that will turn an audience away.
Lastly, don’t forget to use the content that influencers create for you on your brand channels. It is a huge asset and can be one of the most important parts of the campaign. You will build even stronger relationships with influencers when you shine a light on the great work they did for your brand!
Britton Edwards is the Director of Client Relations at Everywhere Agency in Atlanta. Everywhere partners with Fortune 500 companies and America’s favorite brands to tell real stories through influencer marketing. Some of their clients include Macy’s, Coca-Cola, Cox Communications, Carter’s and OshKosh, Newell Brands, and many others. They are the top women-owned influencer agency in the field. Britton has also trained many of the top brands in best practices for social media and influencer marketing. Outside of work, she is passionate about giving back to her community through the Atlanta Women’s Foundation 2019 Inspire Atlanta class.