As communicators, our jobs are driven by challenges, but none more so than the last year. From pandemic to reckonings on racisms, to e-commerce by default, as communicators, we have been stretched to adapt in real-time.
And through it all, we have seen one thread: influence.
Those who have it, those who need it, those who are under pressure from it. Influence has driven conversations and led to action. As we stepped back to look at the year and what’s ahead, we knew it was pivotal to dive deeper. To talk to experts in this space and look at what is driving influencer marketing and influencer communications.
So we hosted a virtual event titled The Age of Influence and took a closer look. We were joined by Lindsay Lynch, Creator Partnerships & Community Lead at TikTok Canada, Sara Koonar, President + Founder of Platform Media & Management Inc., Bhavin Desai, SVP, Product Strategy at CreatorIQ, Madison Fullerton, Director, Research & Community Engagement at 19 to Zero and H+K’s leading Influencer Strategist Kayla White.
Here’s what we heard:
1. Influence is not just online. Influencers are more than just “instagrammers,” what defines influencers – online, offline, is the same: they have trust with a defined audience. Influencers are found across sectors and lines of business from politics to brand marketing.
2. Get the right fit. Finding the right influencer partner is not just about the quantitative measures (e.g., engagement rate). It’s about the relationships the influencer has with their audience and what story they can tell for your campaign or organization.
3. Trust is niche. Different communities trust different sources. It’s important to identify individual community barriers and then identify key voices in those communities that can address those barriers to help build trust.
4. Strategy first. Influencer strategy needs to be incorporated from the outset when planning – from marketing to advocacy. It can’t be an afterthought.
5. Align on goals. Ensure briefing all parties involved to work towards one goal. Know your success metrics from the outset so you can communicate them with your influencer partner. They will know how to drive greater results if they’re in the know.
6. Shared values first. Influencers can add credibility on important social stances, where they have more trust and credibility with the audience than a company does. But, there must be an alignment of values between the influencer and the company. Influencers cannot provide cover for a company that is not actively practicing good corporate citizenship or corporate social responsibility (CSR).
7. Influencers as consultants. Influencers are creators, but they are also experts. Expand your work to see them not just as content creators, but as consultants. This is especially important on social issues including climate change and social justice movements.
At H+K, influence will continue to drive our business. Across corporate communications, brand marketing and public affairs, the world of influence is just beginning. It’s a new age, the age of influence.
This article was written by Lindsay Finneran-Gingras in collaboration with Kayla White and Melina Kokkinos.