Influencer marketing, by the UK’s most influential marketers.
Harness the most powerful voices in word-of-mouth promotion, specific to your sector.
Influencer marketing is nothing new, this is what PR agencies have been doing for decades. Only now the targets are much broader- it’s about accessing respected professionals, public figures, and experts from your industry to amplify the message.
Our experienced public relations team understands not only how to identify these trusted spokespeople, from brand ambassadors to bloggers, but also how to successfully partner with them to develop bespoke campaigns that grab further attention for your company.
Why is influencer marketing so powerful?
Let’s say you make washing machines, and so do other brands. You are competing against one another at similar price points, with comparable functions and equally positive reviews. How do you get ahead of rivals when the playing field is level?
How about by winning over the people those buying a new washing machine are most likely to listen to?
People have been advising each other on everything from what to wear to what to think since the beginning of time. Word of mouth remains our most vital form of communication, and when the words come out of a mouth we consider to be an expert, the message becomes all the more powerful. Harnessing those mouths for your brand is what’s known as influencer marketing.
The rise and rise of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is certainly nothing new, then. Public figures, specialists, and experts have long-been used to promote purchasing decisions. Consumers have trust in spokespeople they see as knowledgeable about a particular subject or sector. When these people speak out about something, anyone interested in the topic pays attention.
According to a survey by Bloglovin’, 63% of marketers increased budgets for influencer marketing during 2017, and a year earlier, the practice surpassed print marketing in terms of overall spend. So why has influencer marketing seen such growth?
Social media has a lot to answer for. The rise of networks like Facebook and Twitter has mirrored an overall decline in traditional print media; it’s not that we are consuming less news but the sources have changed because voices have been digitally amplified.
What lay-people have to say has never been more audible, or at least visible. You have never had such an ability to sway others because in the past they probably couldn’t hear you. When we apply this rule to experts, celebrities and specialists, the potential is ten-fold, and then some.
Whereas previously our relationship with public figures relied on television or printed articles, offering us carefully orchestrated insights into their lives, by upping the volume for everyone, social media has made it far easier for those public figures to open themselves up to the world. We don’t really know these role models or icons, but we feel we do.
The closer we consider our connection to another person, the more faith we place in what they say. 74% of people trust others on social networks to guide their purchasing decisions, with almost half of all consumers (49%) now reliant on recommendations that could be considered influencer marketing.
A public figure we follow and have a perceived bond with has become the equivalent of a digital friend. They talk, we listen, and if we hear praise for a product or service that person is knowledgeable about, chances are we will begin to consider that product or service for ourselves.
Paid vs earned influencer marketing
We have never been less trusting of the world around us, partly because we have never been so aware of what that world entails. Our faith in big business is shaky at best, so when we believe we are being guided into a purchasing decision by an advertisement or sponsorship deal, we feel wary.
This doesn’t mean that paying an influencer to promote your brand is always a pointless exercise, but it does mean earned influencer marketing is a far more useful tool for businesses. The spokesperson has been won over by the quality of a product or service, rather than simply an increase in their annual earnings.
The laws governing advertising— and in particular social media marketing— have grown increasingly stringent in recent years. This means it is illegal to pay someone to say something and not make it clear they have been paid. This means the public can easily tell when there is an influencer marketing deal behind a recommendation.
If we shy from advertising then the same is fundamentally true of paid influencers, although the connection we have established with our chosen figurehead will help soften any skepticism. Nevertheless, we will understand that the person may be a fan of the brand, but question how passionate they are, and whether they would still be singing praises if no money was involved.
By comparison, earned influencer marketing does not suffer from these obstacles. The person is expressing their actual feelings towards a product or service. They may have been invited to sample the offerings in the same way a critic would be allowed into a movie screening, but their opinion is not tied to a cheque.
They may have entered into an agreement with the brand, but this is because they genuinely believe in that brand. The problem is the work involved in winning someone over— particularly in highly competitive sectors— can be incredibly time consuming, and time is money, after all.
Micro and macro influencer marketing
In the early days of influencer marketing numbers were everything. The more followers someone had on Twitter, for example, the greater their ability to influence. The problem is this neglects those that are highly respected in their field, when that field is particularly niche.
Today a distinction is made. Generalists such as celebrities are seen as macro influencers— their voice is heard by millions simply because of who they are. On the other side of the coin you have micro-influencers. They might be a biologist renowned for groundbreaking research. If you’re looking to gain ground in a relevant industry, then these people will be far more valuable to the brand than someone who simply boasts 500,000 online fans.
How can influencer marketing work for your brand?
Read our case studies below, and download our Influencer Guide.