“Influencer marketing in the UK is still transient and has not yet matured to the point where influencers and brands have long-term relationships”. This was one of the conclusions drawn from a recent PRWeek breakfast briefing attended by the FOCUS PR team.

“We want to work with influencers” is now a common denominator in any 360-PR campaign, but how can we make influencers work for the brand and how can they benefit from working with us?

Consumers are spending more time on social media than ever before, with the average adult spending 5.9 hours per day with digital media, up from 3 hours a day in 2009, according to Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report.

What this means for brands is that forging relationships with influencers is now part of the overall PR and marketing strategy to help build a customer base and getting the brand noticed. However, “the view often taken by brands is ‘get lots of bang for your buck and then get out’. There is always the view of ‘here’s your fee for now, it would be great to work with you in the future’ but that never happens,” Radio One podcasters Niki and Sammy revealed at the breakfast briefing.

The idea behind working with digital influencers is related to wanting to build awareness for the brand by reaching the target demographic (i.e. their followers) via an ‘influencer’. However, and according to Edelman UK head of influencers Philip Trippenbach, the “industry has two major problems when it comes to influencer marketing – there’s too much focus on an influencer’s audience size (reach) and not enough stock is given to how talent can influence an audience (social proof)”.

Thus, social advertising is cheaper and more effective to target a specific demographic, but what an influencer can give you is social proof which is very powerful. This means if the people around us we know and respect (i.e. influencer) is doing things, we will feel compelled to do that thing too. Popularity shouldn’t be confused with influence – an influencer’s relevance and authority are what is going to change people’s minds.

When it comes to working with influencers, Focus has been working closely with yoga teacher, nutritionist and mindfulness guru Julie Montagu (@juliemontagu) to launch and establish 100% pure coconut water Obrigado in the UK. Our strategy was to create a brand partnership to tap into her like-minded network, driving brand awareness, as well as to engage Julie as a long-term brand advocate. When we approached Julie initially, one of the first things she mentioned was that she wasn’t able to find a 100% pure coconut water, one with no additives or preservatives, so working with Julie was natural and is benefitting both the brand and influencer.

In conclusion, and one thing the panellists at the PRWeek breakfast briefing all agreed on, is that it is “far easier to find a fan and make them famous than it is to find someone famous and make them a fan”.