Opinion: Drive ‘action’ not awareness through influencer engagement

by Charu Raizada

Director - Corporate + Brand
December 19, 2019
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The influencer industry will continue to mature and deliver better results for brands as data becomes its backbone. Unfortunately, despite the bulk of data available in the public domain, public relations practitioners have been unable to capitalise on it for building optimal influencer and blogger engagement strategies for brands (clients). The number of firms investing in tools which provide insights to facilitate better decision making and make appropriate influencer/blogger choices are still very few.
Rest assured, use of these tools will not be considered a breach of privacy as the information gathered does not reflect any personal information of the influencer or blogger.
 
Influencers have today become an integral part of our communication strategies for clients. While we all agree that influencer marketing is the new found PR tool to help brands (clients) increase their reach and spike the possibility of resonating with the consumer, there are many grey areas that need our attention.
 
The good thing is that influencer marketing helps us in reaching out to individuals who have the potential to amplify the brand or the message. It is considered to be far more credible (like listening to a friend or family member), economical and influential if done right. The test is in our ability to identify the right influencers – those who can truly make a difference.
 
While it is easy to identify and target food bloggers, fashion bloggers, but when it comes to shortlisting an influencer for a sports brand, or a beer brand or even a local gym, most times our selection is random, purely using the number of followers as a yardstick.
 
Perils of this approach is that the influencer or the blogger loses his credibility. He or she is viewed as a chameleon who keeps changing identity as per the brand he /she endorses. As communication professionals, our objective should be to drive ‘action’ through influence and not just awareness for the brands we represent. Unfortunately, we are still trapped in the time zone where PR was considered to be a tool for generating awareness.
 
Some key points to note:
 
Audience: Knowing the audience is no more an advertising firm’s job. Our in-depth understanding of the target audience will help us pre-empt the types of topics, blogs, instaposts, tweets, our audience are likely to be interested in. This becomes a crucial step in narrowing down on the ideal influencer.
 
Contextual fit and reach: A software company using Varun Dhawan with his 8.5 million followers as an influencer is unlikely to result in sales. So while reach is important, there needs to be a contextual fit, which comes with an understanding of the audience. Three years back, for a subject related to gender based violence, we had reached out to Farhan Akhtar for support. He had been in news for his soulful composition ‘Mard’ (Men against Rape and Discrimination), hence the contextual fit, combined with reach. Furthermore, contextual fit breeds actionability. An influencer’s followers are engaged with him/ her through the blog or Instagram or twitter and are open to information being put out. If there is a contextual fit, then the chances of action are not only high, but also organic posting becomes a reality (as in the case example cited above). An involved audience tends to soak up recommendations like a dry sponge.
 
Personify: Painting a picture of your influencer helps identify the right one. Who are you looking for – an authority, a socialite, a change agent, a credible voice, a fashionista, for your campaign. Then marry the image with the genre and the topics which come close to your campaign. Launch the search, where else but on social media, using relevant hashtags. Search for genre specific blogs and track for relevancy. Of course, do not forget to track their statistics related to SEO and other relevant information.
 
If this seems a lot of work and you would rather ask for a blogger or an influencer list on your WhatsApp community, then wait a minute. Manual sorting through bloggers and influencers is passé. There are some good blogger outreach tools which could help you with the process (try Buzzsumo or Klear).
 
Alternatively, you could work with influencer marketing platforms like IndiBlogger, Digital Influencer, Blogadda.com and more. These platforms already have influencers connected with them. Furthermore, it is advisable to invest in tools which provide insights to facilitate better decision making and make appropriate influencer/blogger choices for Action! 
 
Originally appeared in Campaignindia.in 

Charu Raizada

Director - Corporate + Brand
Gurgaon (New Delhi)
Read articles by Charu Raizada