'Influencers' is term that has been thrown around for many years now. It is finally something that is being picked up a little more in the corporate events space instead of just the social space where we have seen the concept flourish – an indeed It has created a new career option for many.
But why should you care about influencers? First of all, they deliver the three R's:
Influencers, or content creators, are reaching audiences in ways never thought possible before. Putting an ad on tv might get a big ‘watch rate’ – but how many people were actually in the room watching the TV when it aired. Was a cologne ad aimed at young guys actually being half-watched by an older woman (potentially napping). Did your print ad actually get eyes on or was it used as a coaster for multiple cups of coffee on the side of a desk.
Influencers can ensure that your content is reaching the eyes of the intended audience. Their connection goes beyond that of old media as they can interact and work with the opinions of the audience they are talking to (in many cases now this can be done live). They help the brand reach consumers they might not have even thought possible.
Influencers have their own tribes. Tribes that trust them and often aspire to be like them. Their audiences find their content relevant and important to their lifestyle and the choices they are making – and therefore they will subscribe and like content to find out more as and when it is available. It is not all in the numbers, but you only have to look at a few statistics from their social platforms to confirm their relevance. However, as a precaution I would also recommend looking at reader/viewer comments, or general chatter about them online to confirm if they are a legitimate influencer and not a viral fad or faux influencer (more on that later).
Brands are using relevant influencers instead of traditional marketing techniques in order to reach their desired audience through trusted channels. Do you really believe that Joe Hart uses Head and Shoulders shampoo to give him confidence on the football pitch? Do you really believe that Nicole Sherzhinger eats Muller yoghurts as part of her every day diet? Of course not... random celebrity/brand partnerships are becoming few and far between – the age of genuine and realistic endorsements are upon us.
Because of their reach and relevance, it would therefore go without saying that they have resonance. Brands and products are using YouTubers, influencers and celebrities in ways that they have never done before. This year Maybelline unveiled their first male ambassador, but they were not a mega celebrity as you might imagine. He is a MUA (make up artist) that makes Youtube videos from his house and has grown a loyal and international following of people who trust his opinions and advice.
Celebrities, bloggers, Instagram influencers, and Snapchatters are also being asked to share the importance of socio-economic issues too to get a wider audience talking. For example, in the run up to elections social media influencers are given the chance to interview candidates and share the results on their channels. Granted footage/answers will have been checked by the appropriate teams – but there is something much more relatable about information tailored for you, the specific audience, being delivered by someone you trust, the influencer. Mass media does not have the same appeal anymore.
Now we've covered the concept of influencers, why they are a new addition to the marketing mix and how they work. It is important to understand the different types of influencers, as I see it there are four main types to look for:
Mega influencers are often seen as those who were fortunate enough to grow their social media following at the right time. The internet now is crowded with bloggers and vloggers as it has become a recognised source of income for many people. However if you travel back even five/six years - YouTube, blogging and Instagram was a hobby, and people who were utilising the platforms back then had no idea how big it was going to blow up. These people are seen as the OG influencers or creators today (see Jenna Marbles, KSI, PewDiePie, Zoella etc).
If you are interested in using them to promote your product or event, be prepared to pay. A LOT. These stars and many more of their peers are signed to agencies who manage what appearances or endorsements they agree to, assist with their social channels (in many cases they have millions on each platform… imagine the notifications!) and may help to manage their image.
In fact they often receive PR samples and invitations directly from brands to their PO box in the hope that their product *might* get chosen and featured on their channel. As you can imagine, only the brands that align completely with the brand and morals of mega influencers deliver campaigns or #ads that are believable – as many people are conscious of the vast amounts of money that will have been exchanged in order to secure that level of social media personality
Macro and Micro
Macro and micro influencers still have a large amount of influence over their tribes and the social statistics are impressive, but they might be newer, in a niche, or in a very crowded sector where there are already so many major influencers (such as fashion, sports, beauty).
These influencers still offer a lot to brands as they are sometimes seen as a more believable trusted source, as their smaller – but still sizeable – following means that it is likely less money is involved for them to partner with a company. Their ‘smaller’ size also means that they are likely to interact more closely/personally with their followers as they have not yet reached the point where they need or have been approached by management.. again increasing the trust between the ‘advert’ and the audience.
As has been mentioned a few times already, numbers are often used as an indicator of how well and influencer is doing. And as also mentioned, while this is true to an extent – it can also be used by those looking to ‘get rich quick’.
While social media influencer has grown to become a desirable job to have, so has the amount of people who want to cut corners in order to get ‘influencer/creator’ status to achieve their dream job. The amount of people that pay for followers is insane, as are the amount of social media accounts set up simply to follow everyone and anyone – in the hope of getting followed back and therefore growing their following (status) quickly.
One of the key pieces of advice any influencer gives others who are interested is to be yourself. Faux influencers are often easily spotted because of this lack of authenticity, and, in this day and age, called out on their behaviour. For example, if someone has over 10k followers on a platform – but each video or picture or tweet has a tiny proportion of traction in comparison, it is likely the followers have been purchased.
Whether you are interested in working with, or hoping to become an influencer – it is important to stay away from this type of behaviour!
I hope this helps to understand how you can incorporate influencers into your event strategy, and I look forward to seeing some more case studies emerge over the next few months.