It’s a safe bet that many of you (myself included) have used the expertise or knowledge of an influencer in making a purchase decision in the last year. While there is no consensus on what constitutes an influencer, influencers are generally third-party individuals who use their popularity on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook and others to influence the purchasing decisions of their followers.
For me, I trust micro-influencers over other influencers as I consider them closer to the average consumer and find their opinions more relatable. Micro-influencers focus on a specific niche or area and are generally regarded as an industry expert or topic specialist.
That said, there are several types of influencers to consider when promoting a brand. Anybody with a social media following has the potential to market products or services as an influencer, and the definition of how large their following needs to be continues to go down over time.
Types of Influencers
There are at least four types of influencers to be aware of, and the exact definition of each is slightly different depending on the source. Most in the industry categorize social media influencers as follows:
- Mega: 1 million + followers
- Macro: 100,000 – 1 million followers
- Micro: 10,000 – 100,000 followers
- Nano: 10,000 followers or less
The influencer revolution that has grown for years will continue to impact the PR industry in 2021 and beyond. Influencers have become an effective way to jumpstart large and sustainable engagement for many brands. These ordinary people include Instagram and YouTube personalities, foodies, global travelers, fitness pros, and ordinary folks who use and review everyday products, often in the form of sponsored (or paid) ads and reviews.
Why use influencers for PR?
PR is essentially storytellling. Public relations include the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between a brand and its public. But most importantly, PR is responsible for the image a brand portrays to its customers and other stakeholders.
Credible public relations is about good communication, good engagement, and establishing and maintaining networks. At their core, the PR and influencer industries are actually very similar. Just like micro influencing, PR has proven to be effective as it is believable and relatable. When it comes down to it, they’re both storytellers.
How can influencers enhance your PR Strategy?
Simply put, your customers can be your best creators. Using people who already know and love your brand to tell your story is a great and authentic way to enhance exposure, as it allows potential customers to discover you organically.
By utilizing influencers with a captive audience and loyal following, you can receive authentic engagement and high-quality content tailored to your brand. By combining your existing PR strategy with the untapped power of the right influencers, your brand will be setting itself up for success.
When it comes to brand, product or service recommendations, consumers continue to place their trust in friends, family and influencers. According to an Edelman study, 63 percent of consumers trust influencers’ opinions much more than what brands have to say about themselves. In addition, 58 percent of people who have bought a new product in the past six months did so because of an influencer’s recommendation.
Influencer trends for 2021
- Influencer marketing; bigger than ever in 2021
As social media influencers become more plentiful and proven, brand dollars and support have followed. Brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, per Insider Intelligence estimates. Why are influencer marketing budgets projected to rise in 2021? Because in a world where consumers can be more wary and less trusting of corporations, brands, public figures and news media, influencers maintain a valuable trust. Influencer relations harness this trust to benefit brands, but only when done the right way.
- Video content will still be #1
Even with a spike in consumers’ TikTok use in the last year, Instagram maintains a lead as the most popular platform for influencer marketing. Short-form video dominates the influencer-created content format, and both platforms lend themselves to it. The key is choosing the right influencer to create the right content and post it in the right channels based on how well their followers in those channels reflect the client’s target audience. In 2021, brands will need to focus on creativity to keep these formats fresh and engaging, collaborating with influencers to help avoid possible online fatigue from viewers.
- Continued focus on diversity
In a time of increased focus on social injustice, diverse influencers have seen heightened demand and increased follower counts. More consumers have said they have followed a more diverse group of influencers than they did before last year’s protests. With increased demand, BIPOC influencers are commanding higher compensation. But before agreeing to a campaign, they will research the company’s diversity efforts and how well they have committed to diversity to date. To make their influencer casting more diverse, brands need to demonstrate a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- More influencer partnerships with brands versus one-offs
Running influencer marketing campaigns as one-off initiatives prevents a brand from benefiting from data-driven marketing capabilities. Specifically, the ability to track results and then optimize campaigns and creative over time based on what works with an influencer’s given audience. By establishing longer relationships with influencers, brands can gain efficiencies within their marketing budgets and deliver a better experience to potential customers.
Longer-term relationships with influencers like micro-influencers let brands focus more on the folks with more substantial credibility in specific categories. As many brands have discovered, initiatives that pay flat fees to celebrities (mega-influencers) with the biggest audiences often don’t resonate with audiences, especially for products with more focused target audiences. Building a real relationship takes time. Brands need to get to know the audiences they’re reaching through influencers if they want to deepen their connections. One-offs simply don’t allow the depth of interaction that provides long-term benefits for brands.
- Post content continues to evolve
COVID-19 lockdowns have been highly disruptive to many industries this last year, including the PR and advertising businesses. But influencers, who create content at home, adjusted their posts to reflect their audiences’ increased interest categories through the pandemic, such as fitness, food, hobbies or advice. This targeted focus helped Instagram influencers garner huge gains in likes and comments. In fact, during the first 6 months of the pandemic, influencers experienced a jump in likes by 67.1% and comments by 51.3%, and they have increased the pricing of their posts by 3.1%. Followers continue to say they want more how-to tutorials, humor content, short-form videos, reviews and advice. The pandemic has also accelerated the trend toward less scripted, filtered and staged content.
As you can imagine, influencer marketing is now one of the most promising and exciting segments of the digital marketing mix. It has opened up a new world for brands and businesses to connect with discerning audiences and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I know I’ll continue to seek out influencers I trust before any major purchases, or to learn about new products and services. And for me, their expertise is invaluable.
With social media dialogue and commentary changing and updating by the second, monitoring the internet for what people are saying about your brand, business or organization is more crucial than ever! With Burrelles social media monitoring, you can know the who, what, where, when and why of what’s being said about your business or brand. We make sure you’ll see all the coverage most relevant to you, your organization, and your public relations goals. Contact us today and let our professionals help you decide which platform is best for your specific needs.