Being PR professionals we are acutely aware of the ever-evolving media and blogger landscape and are catching our breath at the constant state of flux.
As such, the traditional methods of PR, marketing and advertising have dramatically shifted and brands are increasingly contemplating a ‘digital first’ strategy.
The Guardian recently reported global digital advertising spend is set to increase by 10% in 2018 to a not insignificant $224.7 billion dollars.
A large chunk of this online strategy involves working with “influencers” (yes, the gesturing quote marks are intentional) or in plain english good old fashioned thought leaders..
The latter is nothing new and brands have been working with thought leaders for years as part of successful marketing strategies and campaigns.
However, the influencer market is growing rapidly and fast becoming saturated with a bewildering choice of personalities, inflated fees and unreliable results.
We’re all too familiar with grinning B-listers pushing teeth whitening products with #ad sneakily tagged into the comments amongst a plethora of other hashtags.
So it’s no surprise consumers and brands struggle to separate whether an influencer has a genuine love for what they’re promoting… or they’re just being paid to.
Instagram itself has been working to better distinguish between candid, authentic images and branded content to help its users determine the difference.
In a recent blog post, Instagram stated: “A healthy community should be open and consistent about paid partnerships”. At Little Red Rooster, we think this is incredibly important.
We believe in authenticity, integrity and honesty – this has always been our ethos in terms of our relationships with traditional media and we consider these values equally as important, if not more so, when working with influencers.
Influencers now have access to a new tool that notes whether content has been paid for by a brand.
So, what exactly does this mean? To us, it means building genuine, long-lasting relationships with influencers in the same way we do with journalists.
Rather than negotiating a fee for ‘X’ amount of blog posts and ‘Z’ amount of mentions, we would much rather reach out to influencers with brands that best suit their aesthetic.
Securing organic social media coverage – either through a meeting, gifting products or a brand visit – is our favourite way to build viable and trustworthy relationships… just like we do with traditional media.
In an ideal world this sounds relatively straightforward and we’re lucky to have such an incredible brand portfolio to entice them. However, this approach is all about playing the long game rather than banking quick wins.
Many companies choose to pay influencers to achieve rapid results or to open up the brand to a new marketing medium and on the surface, this may seem more lucrative.
But before readying the chequebook, consider how the long-term results of our organic social method can outweigh a paid-for partnership – and we can prove it.
Our recent #H4Unfiltered campaign delivered meaningful results and returns to the client B&O Play. This was an unadulterated, organic campaign launching the Danish audio brand’s latest wireless headphones.
Using a carefully targeted list of influencers we provided each one with their own product and asked them to create some unique content to coincide with the launch.
The campaign generated 12,000 Instagram likes and reached 500,000 followers. The price of love? Nothing but the product and a nudge to show off their creativity.
This is where things get a tad tricky. We would love to approach gifting to influencers the same way we would journalists, but the two are very different.
Whilst journalists are paid to write for publications, authentic influencers rely on social media for a living and these platforms of personal endorsement reflect who they really are.
Therefore we wouldn’t ask bloggers to pay for the products we want them to promote, especially if they’re fans of a rival brand.
Instead, we prefer to provide an education on the brand and a product to try out – especially because we have 100% belief in our client’s products.
We see gifting as a great way of building relationships and their love for a product. This helps us curate a ‘little black book’ of influencers across each brand we work with.
Little Red Rooster’s approach taps into the socially conscious attitude of Generation X.
They’ve grown up in front of a smartphone screen and a forced collaboration can put them off. In fact, 17% of 18 – 24 year olds admit to discovering brands via influencers and bloggers.
There’s an upside to the new Instagram rules for brands too as the new tagging process allows advertisers to access useful engagement data for those posts.
It’s always been notoriously hard to gauge the success of working with influencers – we’ve all heard horror stories of brands paying huge sums only to find their posts are barely translating into sales.
The new laws not only benefit consumers, but advertisers automatically receive access to the same data as the influencer, authenticating the reach and engagement of every post.
There’s no doubt traditional print and online media are competing against the rise of influencers and it is clear Instagram is a powerful promotional tool brands ignore at their peril.
Although there are undoubted benefits to certain paid partnerships, we still strongly believe in keeping relationships as organic and real as possible. Little Red Rooster is about choosing the right partners for the right reasons and at the right time.
If you’re struggling to negotiate the digital landscape get in touch. We have plenty of ways to demonstrate how our work with bloggers and influencers is the way to go.