These days, it seems like influencer marketing is all the rage. We live in the era of endless podcasts getting more views than network news, YouTube stars and Instagram models hawking everything from hair and skin products to cosplay prosthetics, and Twitter mentions becoming show preparation for traditional media broadcasters. But does that mean a winning approach to marketing has to be completely transformed? Well, yes and no. When it comes to marketing and consumer public relations in the modern digital era, many of the rules have changed, and much remains the same. And, while influencer marketing seems like a “today” trend, the roots go back as far as advertising.
The Meaning of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a type
of market-facing communication in which key leaders, subject experts, or
influencers are hired, or otherwise compensated, to push a brand’s message into
a targeted market. Instead of traditional commercial messages, where the brand
speaks directly to the consumer, they bring in a familiar, trusted face to help
get the word out.
Influencers are people who have power or “influence” over the thoughts, actions, or opinions of a group or groups. In traditional brand marketing, one might think of sports superstars like Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson or Tiger Woods. Or, models who went on to influence everything from the Cola Wars to major fashion trends, such as Cindy Crawford and Brooke Shields.
Exploring the Meaning of Influencer
The key first step in defining influencer marketing is understanding that each brand must identify the specific people who are already working as influencers for the people the brand is trying to reach.
While, in previous decades, the
majority of influencers used in marketing were already household names, this is
shifting in the digital world. With the continuing fragmentation of market
segments, influencers that are well-known in certain circles could be relative
nobodies in others.
While consumers still listen to
superstars, there’s a growing trend of people who are decidedly not superstars
gaining a lot of traction or influence in various different markets niches.
Many of these people rocketed to influence thanks to social media moments.
While they may not be – and may never be – household names, they are legends to
their committed legion of fans.
So, don’t just assume someone is or
is not an influencer. Instead, find someone who has the ability through their
voice or actions to cause other people to act on a message. Here are a few
influencer traits to look for in order to understand how influencer marketing
Influencers have the authority people respect. Maybe not all people. In fact, these days, some influencers will have as many detractors as they do followers. That’s okay. Who is that brand trying to reach? When trying to reach the fans of that influencer, consider a message that won’t aggravate their detractors, but the more important factor is leveraging the authority that influencer has with their followers.
Influencers have knowledge people want. They attract followers because
they have information, and they know how to convey it in a way that people
appreciate or find applicable or entertaining.
Influencers also have relationships people appreciate. Famous or relatable people recommending products or services has always been a great way to sell, but influencers are able to convince their fans because they’ve built a special level of trust due to the interaction available on social media.
Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals.
Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 200 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions.
Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR.
Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller.
A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities