brand + influencer

It seems that any time a user logs into Instagram, there are countless posts promoting certain brands. Gym wear, supplements, hair products, skincare, sports treatments, CBD — the list goes on and on. Influencer marketing is a very real niche of digital marketing, and it’s here to stay. However, the influencer environment is also experiencing a shift currently. As more users demand authenticity, brand transparency, and inclusivity, the days of the perfect Instagram model selling hair gummies may soon be over in favor of more authentic promotional partnerships.

What does this mean, exactly? In early going, brands may have partnered with social media influencers in mass numbers. By distributing product, copy, and hashtags to each influencer, a brand could essentially guarantee that the right message would be put out into the world. Influencers, with their massive follower counts, can promote brands to a wider audience with just a single post, and this method has proven to be highly effective for many brands.

However, now more brands than ever are beginning to get more creative with their influencer partnerships. A higher level of trust is required for this — many brands prefer to distribute exact copy and hashtags for fear of an influencer getting the intent or message wrong. However, a longer-term partnership with an influencer can lead to greater levels of authentic engagement.

Let’s use an example of a social media influencer who is partnering with a brand such as Airbnb. Airbnb is a relatively well-known brand name, so how can this brand capitalize on using influencers to further its message?

Instead of requiring the influencer to stick to a script and post a video talking about the features and benefits of the home-sharing service, perhaps there is another way to approach the influencer marketing objective. Find influencers that are trustworthy and who do a great job of creating their own authentic material. This type of content will resonate more deeply with consumers, allowing them to connect with the brand and its products or services.

Going back to the Airbnb example, perhaps the influencer could go on a mini-vacation using Airbnb and document their travels online. This inserts the brand into the content in a more genuine way, rather than simply talking about how great it is. This sort of “product placement” marketing is effective as it shows the potential for great customer experience. And we all know that no one wants to miss out on a good time!

Striking on longer-term relationships with influencers may be the key to success for some brands. Influencer relationships are important because of their effectiveness, but often there is a need for a bit more creativity and authenticity in this type of marketing. Remember, there is a lot of clutter within the marketing industry. At all times, brands should be striving to stand out and to make a difference for a consumer. That creates loyalty and solidifies a brand’s reputation. Finding influencers who can put their own spin on a partnership instead of sticking to the script will go a long way in creating new opportunities for valuable consumer relationships.

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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 175 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, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. 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, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" 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.