Although influencer marketing is very much in the spotlight when it comes to contemporary marketing styles, it is important to remember that, despite appearances, it is not the be-all-and-end-all. Marketing still exists, and indeed has been happily existing in its more traditional forms for many a decade, and for the vast majority of cases, influencers are most effective when partnered with these pre-existing marketing strategies. To help you navigate the often bewildering world of influencer integration, we’ve knocked up a quick guide to involving influence in different areas of both above and below-the-line processes. Enjoy!
Above-the-Line Marketing Areas
Public Relations (PR)
You may be currently employing the services of a PR team (or using your own in-house public relations specialists) to push your brand out to the mass audience through media, events and various other methods. As the primary objective of this kind of marketing is one of quantity rather than quality, any influencers involved need to have a very large appeal and range. This will naturally mean working what are commonly referred to as ‘macro’ influencers into your PR efforts, meaning influencers with mass appeal as opposed to a niche audience base.
Influencers can be used alongside PR teams to use their own relationships and affiliations with media to gain coverage, or add extra credibility to physical events, but essentially they will add clout and reach to any PR strategy.
Employed in both above and below-the-line marketing, social media is easily blended with influencer marketing with invariably successful results. Above-the-line social strategies will involve aspects of social advertising, popular hashtags and promotional brand content, all of which can be amplified with a recognisable, powerful influencer on board.
If a socially based, influential online personality is working behind the scenes to talk about your brand in the right social spaces, it can often bring that essential bit of trustworthiness and earnestness to your own social output. And, this is what we are constantly seeing can often be the difference between audience and customer.
The most essential of above-the-line marketing aspects, branding strategies are how you choose your brand to be seen by the public as a whole, not just segments of the public who fit into your target demographic profiles. The most obvious way to involve an influencer in your branding strategy is to get them to endorse it. This could be by sharing it publicly to their own followers and/or readers, or to employ what is known as a ‘brand ambassador’.
Loosely speaking, a brand ambassador is an influencer employed in a long-term capacity to align their own name and persona with a chosen brand. This can be achieved through product launches and reviews, appearances at events and general, regular promotion of a brand.
Billboards, advertorials, television commercials and endless other forms of above-the-line advertising can all benefit from influencer involvement. In this case, it need only be a visual influencer endorsement from a chosen, widely recognised online personality to take a advertising campaign from standard to exceptional. Alternatively, including quotes from influencers as product reviews in print have proven very effective for many high-profile brands, as has employing influencers to promote particularly conceptual and clever print campaigns through online channels.
Below-the-Line Marketing Areas
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Although not an obvious union, SEO and influencer marketing can be an incredibly powerful partnership if executed cleverly. As SEO is largely concerned with backlinks and keywords, blogger influencers are especially useful here. If you are looking to improve the searchability of particular segments of your website or particular products you offer, consider involving a handful of niche, smaller-scale influencers with readerships and followers that reflect your desired customer base. They can give your chosen business areas a well needed boost by working on sponsored posts and social mentions based around it, and promoting them out to their own audiences. Although it may seem inconsequential, this method is tried and tested, and ideal for specific SEO projects.
Marketing to existing customers should be easy – after all, they brought into your brand before, why not again? However, the reality is often not quite that straightforward. In today’s fast-paced consumer market, customer loyalty is a hot commodity that is hard to keep hold of. This is where influencers can really help – trusted and followed personas with dedicated audiences. Attach an influencer to your brand, and you gain the constant attention of their followers.
The key to customer retention is to appear new, exciting and evolving as a brand, at all times. Ways to keep interest levels peaked include competitions, returning customer offers and discounts and new product previews, all of which gain more traction and attention if they are being promoted by a carefully chosen influencer – simple!
Largely speaking, content marketing is a below-the-line activity, as it focuses on producing content for a pre-defined audience niche rather than the public en masse. At the most basic of levels, drawing from content produced by those influencers with a matching audience to yours is a good place to start, but using these influencers to promote the content to those audiences is even better.
Collaborative and sponsored posts are also great examples of merging influencer and content marketing, whereby the reach and talent of the influencer is mixed with the aim of the brand in a completely unique way.
Below-the-line social marketing is, unsurprisingly, a lot more targeted in its approach. This involves finding and engaging with social media users, using niche hashtags and contributing to smaller, online conversations, as well as creating content focused on grabbing the attention of a much more honed and specific group of social media users. Other than your basic retweeting, sharing and commenting, a great way to integrate influencers here is by holding a channel ‘takeover’. This involves a hand-selected influencer with a specific appeal and audience base literally taking over one of your social channels and posting their own (pre-approved) content. This will immediately draw a legion of followers to your social channel that may not have previously aware of your brand and are already proven to be interested it.
In summary, however you have currently configured your marketing process, there will be an opportunity to give a little extra influence. The main selling point of influencer marketing is its versatility, bringing a wealth of specific and engaged audiences to pre-existing marketing concepts. And that ain’t no bad thing, whatever way you look at it.