Buzzword Alert: Influencer Marketing

by Emily Edwards Van Muijen

As we grow more accustomed to advertisements inundating our daily lives, companies have to be more creative about broadcasting their products to their publics.

Sybil Grieb and Andrew Schwalb of Edelman gave students a “behind the scenes” look at influencer relations, strategies and brand awareness during the Public Relations Student Society of America Regional Conference in Fullerton, California (NextGenPR).

An influencer is a person that has a significant following on a platform that reaches a lot of people. Influencer marketing is skyrocketing due to third-party credibility influencers possess which enables them to reach niche audiences more effectively than traditional advertisements.

According to Grieb, influencers are the “gateway to trust” and can help a brand build a relationship with its intended audience.

Award-winning Snapchat artist, Shaun McBride (Shonduras), partnered with Edelman client, Xfinity Mobile, to create a mural comprised of drawings sent to McBride via Snapchat from his following of more than 600,000 people. McBride used his following to create a“Snapsterpiece”  which debuted at a new Xfinity store in Philadelphia, increasing store traffic by over 400 percent and garnering more than one million video views.

“Influencer marketing is no longer an option, it’s a requirement,” stressed Grieb and Schwalb. Campaigns like the one carried out by Edelman and Xfinity Mobile are being adopted by companies across the globe.

Through collected social media data and analytics, it is safe to infer that if media is not easily consumable and cannot bypass complex algorithms, the intended audience will not listen. Society has learned to ignore the ads so creativity in reaching publics is necessary.

Schwalb acknowledged that it can be difficult to convince companies with more traditional views of advertising to use influencers. For instance, explaining the reach of a Youtuber or an Instagram model to a conservative client may be challenging because they aren’t celebrities in the traditional sense of the word.

Schwalb offered a piece of advice in convincing a business to use influencer marketing, “Show them that it works.” Try starting with a small campaign that utilizes a micro-influencer with a smaller, niche audience. After the event put together real metrics detailing the impact of the campaign. Clients love to see results.

Grieb and Schwalb helped students like myself understand the changing landscape of public relations and marketing by explaining the different ways to incorporate influence marketing into a campaign.