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Use Influencer Marketing to Your Advantage

Put social media stars to work in local markets to drive results

When negotiations start with “I must have” or “I won’t work without,” I get so turned off that I’m ready to run.

From whom have I heard these demands in recent years? Influencers.

Yes, influencers have arrived. Big influencers possess the status of rock stars. It’s probably only a matter of time until one of them puts “no brown M&Ms” as a stipulation in a contract.

For readers only vaguely familiar with influencer marketing, allow me to explain.

It didn’t take long for the new stars of social media to realize that they could post messages and/or content that would motivate large groups of people to action. At first, it was just fun and gained recognition for individuals who were not part of the previous media elite in broadcasting, film, newspapers or publishing.

Naturally, money started to change hands; the influencer was born. Specialists emerged on various platforms. Some were better at Facebook, others with YouTube, and others with Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. Influencers hired agents and agencies. Once engaged, influencers exposed their audiences to products, services and even political advocacy. They delivered measureable results to companies eager to reach an online audience with a credit card at the ready.

Here are few examples of huge influencers in various social media:
• Photographer Chris Ozer has more than half a million followers on Instagram.
• Chris Brogan specializes in professional development and leadership and has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter.
• Video blogging (“vlogging”) fashion and beauty megastar Zoe Sugg has more than 7 million YouTube subscribers and 2.7 million Twitter followers.

So who’s big in your local market? Check social media for the numbers, or contact one of the many agencies that specialize in finding appropriate influencers.

How does influencer marketing affect broadcasting? I can think of a few intersections, and I’m sure you’ll come up with more angles once you start the discussion with others.

Radio stations should consider using influencers to drive listening and awareness of our products.

Before you throw stones at me for suggesting this, allow me to remind you that it was once thought outrageous to market radio stations via television. For years, television was considered a threat to radio station listening and advertising. (I had a radio station owner yell at me for talking about a TV show because they were “the competition!”)

Influencers could help us bring new audiences to personality-driven shows like morning programs or talk shows; raise the profile of our poorly known HD Radio channels; drive online streaming listening nationally; or pull news into their channels from radio to remind people how competitive we are as a breaking news source.

Influencers could complement radio with video on YouTube. Radio typically does a poor job in this area and even when we make video, few people see it on our websites. When the right influencers interact visually with a radio personality, it can be a powerful combination.

In the spirit of “When you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” it is still entirely possible for top radio personalities with already large on-air audiences to become influencers themselves on social media. To do so, they probably will need training from others who are experts in this field; more importantly, they may require financial incentive to invest their time and energy. Perhaps stations and high profile personalities can form business relationships that foster growth in the social space. For example, once an audience is captured, joint selling on-air and in social becomes a strong pairing.

The jury is still out as to whether influencer marketing is a flash in the pan. Critics will (correctly) point out that with the inevitable death of Facebook organic reach, influencers on that platform will soon need investment just to reach their own fans. That could spread across Twitter, YouTube and the rest.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the death of influencer marketing, but certainly could be the start of a new evolution.

How to get started? Take this tip from Malcolm Gladwell, author of the groundbreaking book, “The Tipping Point”: There are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.

Good hunting!

The author is president of Lapidus Media and a longtime contributor. Find more of his Promo Power column