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WHAT’S THE INFLUENCE OF INFLUENCERS?

Public relations has always been about influencing audiences and ensuring a brand or product is portrayed in the right light.

Ensuring you are able to influence those who have influence over others is a crucial part of the work whether targeting journalists, MPs or celebrities.  The advent and exponential growth of social media has however seen the emergence of ‘influencers’ whose sole purpose seems to be to share their experiences and influence others.

Admittedly, the successful influencers focus on a market segment as their area of authority, whether mums, teens, fashion bloggers or people with a passion for their homes to name just a few sectors.

‘Being an influencer’ is now one of the most popular career options for primary school children. Gone are the days of kids aspiring to be lawyers, astronauts or firemen – it’s now all about becoming an online influencer.

A survey by  global affiliate network www.awin.com showed that one in five (17 per cent) of kids now wants to be a social media influencer and 14 per cent wanted to be a YouTuber – only doctor (18 per cent) scored higher.

The role of influencers is can pay dividends for the individual as well as the brands looking to engage with audiences.   A Marketingcharts.com surveyfound 22 per cent of 18-34 year-olds made a large purchase after seeing an online influencer endorsing the item – be that games, fashion, make-up or hotels.  The challenge however is finding the right influencer, with a genuine following and who has authority and an ability to engage with their audiences.

This year’s Love Island is already spawning a new wave of ‘influencers’ with huge numbers of followers.  However, research has revealed that many of their followers are in fact fake, undermining their credibility.

Tommy Fury, the most-followed contestant, has 971,000 followers but well over half (60%) of those are fake.  The contestants whose Instagram profiles have the highest concentration of fake followers are Amber Rose Gill and Jordan Hames, at 65% each.

Six of the 17 contestant accounts were reported for suspicious activity, just weeks before the contestants were publicly announced. Strangely Anton Danyluk would appear to have great influencer and support in India, Brazil and Mexico – some of the most common countries where ‘bot farms are commonly located.

Last year, Instagram claimed it was intending to target fake likes and comments from users who use third-party apps to boost their popularity.  The issue is a serious one as research from Social Chain has reported that brands are being defrauded by up to 96% of what they spend with some influencers.

The message from this seems to be clear that when used correctly, influencers have a key role to play in successfully targeting audience groups.  However, remember to do your research to ensure you know exactly how much influence your influencer actually has.

PR TRENDS FOR 2019..?

It would not be January without a wave of predictions from PR and digital agencies about what’s in store for marketeers in 2019.  So, we’ve asked around the office for our own insights and thoughts and compiled what we believe will be some of the PR and digital trends for the year ahead…

It’s all about influence

Influencer marketing will continue to be a key platform for PRs to extend the reach and position of client brands.  However, if the economy declines post Brexit we may see a consolidation of budgets and a check in the increasingly disproportionate costs charged by some influencers.  Savvy PRs will spot the up and coming influencers and ensure a brand is well positioned and appropriately exposed to generate the best ROI.

Continued pressures on traditional media. 

Traditional media reach is likely to continue to decline, but value remains through targeted exposure, brand leadership as well as links to a client’s website.  Clients will need to be comfortable with using sponsored content as part of their mix as 75% of communications professionals are already using it in their strategies to support the publishers hungry for new forms of revenue.

Strategic partners

As traditional media declines, PR agencies will increasingly be used as a strategic communications partner to clients, whether media relations, content creation or social media management.  Let’s also not forget the ability to identify opportunities for news stories and provide first-class content journalists can use.

Good PR professionals will help clients develop on-going relationships with a broad range of audiences across a range of interest segments. As a result, clients will expand and deepen their reach by securing a share of audience attention through consistent content distributed across multiple channels.

Message development

PR agencies should tailor their messages to include more visual, video and voice content depending on which device is used.  This is best achieved by creating bespoke content across multiple channels to expand and deepen a client’s reach.

Great content needs to tell a story, not just for the media but all audiences.  Also, expand the audiences you work with to include a broader set of partners: websites, content syndicators, trade associations and others who can help bring your story to a wider audience.

Positive year

PR agencies are the marketing sector’s best content creators and storytellers, and have the unique opportunity to support clients across the communications spectrum whether the space is paid for, earned, shared or owned by clients. To have a successful 2019, PR agencies needs to be confident with numbers, data, software and proving their ROI in the increasingly digital world.