Do you remember Heather Locklear's 1982 commercial for Faberge Organics? It was made famous for highlighting the impact of word of mouth -- impact that continues to serve as a benchmark for successful marketing and communications campaigns today.
According to the Environics Communications CanTrust Index (2017), 74% of Canadians trust recommendations or word-of-mouth (WOM), second to just sampling a product or service (76%). So, it's not surprising that 2017 has been a year for the social influencer with the rapid evolution of the digital space.
Savvy, connected and often high profile, the social influencer leverages huge followings grown on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and still Twitter, to endorse brands in authentic ways. In Canada, many of these influencers have regular gigs with television networks too, where featuring their favourite fashion finds or talking about an upcoming charitable event amplifies the endorsement to the masses.
New to influencer marketing? Here are just a few ideas you might want to consider as part of your marketing and/or communications strategy:
Maintaining Authenticity with #Paid
Successful influencers have made their mark by maintaining their own voice. They choose to co-create with brands. They understand essential brand messages and are given the creative freedom to communicate them in the way that keeps their audiences engaged. Yet, with changes to Ad Standards this past year, any influencer who receives payment or gift to promote a product, service, event -- you name it, must disclose the partnership.
And as more and more brands and organizations choose to tap into the benefits of influencer marketing, we may see influencers be more scrutinizing of partnership opportunities to maintain trust with their followers. We may even see more opportunities for non-profit groups to engage with credible influencers seeking to marry brand work with important causes.
Engaging the Micro Influencer
"Micro influencer" is a term coined to describe relatable, everyday consumers with a talent for strong engagement on social. These can be your current or future customers, but also your employees, donors, or volunteers. Followings aren't in the numbers of higher profile influencers, but engagement scores show they can amass an audience. Just think -- engaged employees with influence can help market job opportunities in your organization and eliminate the need for recruiting. They're also the face of your company culture, so engage them with photo-worthy opportunities that can be shared online to further promote a positive image of your organization.
Creating Strategic Partnerships
Not all influencers have a face online. Some might be journalists, event planners, entrepreneurs -- you name it. And sometimes common interests make for creative and strategic partnerships.
At Environics Communications, we often engaged with fundraiser organizers to generate exposure for target fit brands at charitable galas or fashion shows. And when the product was right, such partnerships often meant we were able to put it into the hands of our target for trial at no additional cost than the product itself.
As influencer marketing continues to thrive in the spotlight, it naturally begs the question: for how long?
If history is any indication, the value of word-of-mouth will never lose steam, but perhaps technology will bring us a new way to express it.
Alison Jones is a public relations consultant and communications professor at Algonquin College in Pembroke, Ontario. With over fourteen years of experience working for multinational and international retailers and consumer packaged goods companies as well as non-profit associations, Alison offers clients expertise in maneuvering the Canadian media and influencer landscape and strategic communications planning.
In her former agency positions at Environics Communications, MS&L Canada and Cohn & Wolfe, Alison has worked with companies, including The Home Depot Canada, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Catelli Foods. She’s also had the opportunity to support fundraising initiatives for such organizations as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Starlight Children’s Foundation.
A creative and strategic planner, Alison’s experience includes the development of integrated communications and public relations programs, national media and influencer relations campaigns, partnership initiatives, events and product launches. In addition to her honours diploma from Humber College’s post-graduate Public Relations program, Alison holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University.
Alison is one of the moderators for CSAE Ottawa-Gatineua's upcoming 2017 Round Table Discussions. Be sure to tap into her insight further by attending. Click below for details.