Monday, May 27, 2024

Secrets of the “New PR” Influencers

One person, with one Instagram account, and a ton of followers, might be enough to make an obscure brand, a household name.

Though not new, influencer marketing such as this is “increasingly having a huge impact”, noted Stephanie Schoch, senior content marketing manager at Wpromote, in El Segundo, California.

“In a lot of ways it’s the future of advertising. The fact that there are so many influencer platforms, is definitely evidence of that growing trend.”

The latest tips in the world of influencer-brand relationships were offered up at last week’s Authentic Marketing Conference in Los Angeles, where Schoch, and more than a hundred others, were in attendance.

Panel topics included Brand-Influencer Selection Techniques, Influencer Relationship Building, ROI on Influencer Campaigns, Influencer Marketing Tools, How Influencers Engage, and a workshop on social media.

“One of the takeaways was, you can’t really fake it to be an influencer,” noted Schoch, whose company has had clients such as Verizon, Toyota, Marriott, Bayer, and Honeywell.

“It’s not possible to get into the game to make money and get free things. There really has to be a passion behind it.”

Recent changes in online media, moreover, have meant influencer messaging has to evolve, she added.

“The biggest factor on Google search results was links, but there’s a shift towards the context behind the links, weighing a lot more on those algorithms,” noted Schoch. Additionally, live streaming “is really blowing up” – including Facebook live, Snapchat live and Instagram stories.

“It is authentic, more tangible, as opposed to something that has been edited and formatted – which is what most traditional posts on social media are.”

Stephanie Schoch
Stephanie Schoch

CJ Johnson, speaker on Influencer Tools Panel, noted that while brands are using influencer marketing as a cost-effective strategy of building up awareness, there are growing numbers of grassroots “average joe” types who do promote in their unique way.

“You’re dealing with brand loyalists who will shout out the brand for free products, or in some cases nothing at all, but pure love for the brand,” said Johnson, co-founder of Januel & Johnson, a company that helps brands develop their marketing strategy.

Serena Ehrlich, director, social and evolving media with Business Wire in Los Angeles, spoke on the Brand Influencer Panel.

“One of the business reasons you want to work with influencers, is that they’re people who’ll ‘share’ the message. That’s key,” she noted, because due to algorithms, a ‘share’ is what often gets the most traction over a paid ad or a comment.

As for seeking out the right influencer for the right job, it’s important to hire “people who are well-recognized in their space, and can promote you in your audiences.”

“It’s kind of like dating. The person that matches you, and not the person who looks good on paper.”

A tactical tip she took away from the conference was that anyone seeking to increase their Instagram following should leave comments on other pages at least four words long, otherwise the comment will be considered a spambot.

In a Minneapolis talk from 2016, Ehrlich advised companies to begin to include social media video updates, as a rule. Imagery and multimedia, she noted, “are interactive assets, or kinesthetic learning. It game-ifys your content,” and keeps the reader engaged.

According to Ehrlich, back up for this included: that Pinterest typically has a 70 per cent click through rate, one third of YouTube searches are for news, and press releases with images get three times the views.

Serena Ehrlich
Serena Ehrlich

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the happy result of moving away from text-only posts, is higher number of clicks, and longer website visits.

“People might spend 90 seconds looking at the Mona Lisa, and here, you have five minutes of engagement.”

What is being influencer, if not influencing how someone else spends their time – and their money?


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Dave Gordon
Dave Gordon
Dave Gordon is a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in more than a hundred publications globally, over the course of twenty years. More about him can be found at