Written by Hoozu General Manager Justin Golledge for Mumbrella August 21, 2018
If an agency suggests that influencer marketing and PR require the same tactics, brands should take it as a sign to get out, and fast, explains HooZu’s Justin Golledge.
Both disciplines are part of the same field, but so are the trades listed above. It doesn’t mean they have the necessary expertise to do a first-class job.
Influencer marketing is a specialist media category that requires a deep understanding of the social media sector – a space that evolves and changes by the hour. PR and all-service agencies typically lack the tools and expertise required to create and distribute content that will effectively convert consumers on social networks.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the technical expertise of these two fields is the way content is distributed. Influencer marketing operates on a similar model to advertising; where, when and how long content is displayed predominantly comes down to a commercial arrangement.
In contrast, PR relies heavily on earned media. Traditionally, earned media has a high level of consumer trust. Journalists and publications go to great lengths to maintain integrity when it comes to what they write. They will not cover purely commercial material and have complete discretionary power over what the end story looks like. The flip side of this is that a brand’s key messages and call to action are often diluted.
Here’s where influencer marketing shines. Brands and their respective agencies maintain control over both content and distribution, enabling stronger and often more effective brand messaging. Rather than creating a story that a brand can be pulled into, influencer marketing allows a narrative – whether it is an image, video or blog post – to be created around the promotion of a brand and its offering.
Additionally, it’s much harder for a non-specialist agency to keep up with the industry’s constant progression. Social platforms frequently adjust their algorithms to de-prioritise sponsored content.
A lack of knowledge around this and how to combat it will significantly eat into a campaign’s ROI. These platforms are constantly introducing new attributes such as Instagram’s IGTV and it’s important that brands work with an agency that adopts these features early in order to capitalise on the captive audience before it becomes saturated.
Both public relations and influencer marketing are highly effective when it comes to generating awareness and building a brand’s identity. However, they should be used in different ways. If brand wants to boost consumer trust and credibility, or drive thought leadership in a particular space, PR is a great choice, but if it wants to target a very specific audience and encourage consumers to engage with a particular product, influencer marketing is often more effective.
To get the most out of any media strategy, it needs to be handled by a team that dedicates every day to refining its practice, fine tuning tricks garnered through years of experience, and keeping abreast of industry changes to ensure that they are ahead of the game.
For example, the agency running an influencer campaign should not only have access to a talent pool with both micro and macro audiences, but it should also be able to recognise the benefits of both large and small followings, and when each one is most effective.
As with any industry, if an agency lives and breathes a particular service they are going to be more knowledgeable and experienced, therefore provide a superior service and drive stronger results for clients.
Influencer marketing simply cannot be grouped under the PR umbrella. Its strategies are unique and media planning and buying principles are required to ensure that advertising investment is spent wisely when dealing with social publishers.
If an agency suggests that you can group the disciplines together, or that influencer marketing and PR require the same tactics, brands should take it as a sign to get out and find someone who knows what they are doing.
Justin Golledge is general manager at HooZu.