By Jennifer Kuenzer, TrizCom PR
A few years ago, there was a reality show, “All on the Line,” starring fashion insider Joe Zee. Each episode centered on him working with struggling designers getting their failing brands on track. One episode had him helping a well-known designer whose label had all but fallen off the radar. The VP of Marketing was reluctant to listen to his millennial assistant’s idea of calling some popular bloggers to cover their show during Fashion Week. But Joe Zee listened. Where the front row of a fashion show has traditionally been reserved for movie stars and major print publications, Mr. Zee invited three fashion bloggers to sit on the front row. It worked. Those bloggers engaged immediately with their audiences on social channels like Twitter and Instagram. By engaging the bloggers, who in turn engaged their audience, Joe Zee got the designer back on the radar. There’s a new name for bloggers who engage directly with their followers to dish about new brands and products, resulting in higher sales – Influencers.
Influencers are everywhere, noncelebrities who have built massive followings on various social and digital channels based on their ability to genuinely engage their audience. Marketers know that one of the biggest traits of Generation Z is their desire for authenticity; influencers (and microinfluencers – who have less than 100,000 followers) fit that requirement. Because they’re focused on real engagement and communication, they are viewed as experts on whatever brand they are talking about. With traditional talent, you tell the talent what they’re going to say. With influencers, they say it the way they say everything. You get a built-in tone and attitude that was once dictated by the client. That’s the authenticity their audience is looking for. It’s not a traditional endorsement, because it’s so much more than a pose and a smile.
Influencers have quickly become a must-have for brands – some now have followings that are catapulting them to true celebrity status, but there is not yet a “go-to” or “tried and true” marketing strategy for them. Because of the traits that make them so important to consumers and popular with brands – authenticity, trust and direct engagement, the best way to utilize them cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. But as more tools for measuring influencer results are developed, finding the best influencers for your brand will become easier. Connecting organically with a brand and maintaining that authenticity is the foundation of working with influencers, and while the most effective strategies for them in the marketing PR landscape are still being tested, it’s clear they aren’t going anywhere, and finding that perfect fit for a brand can be what takes a campaign over the top.