The notion of ‘influencers’ has been all the rage in Brussels recently. Understandably. In the real world, influencer marketing – the practice of teaming up with influential people to help promote an organisation or product – can be highly effective.
The principle of influencer marketing is not new. We’ve all sniggered at grainy ads from the 50s featuring doctors flogging cigarettes that do wonders for a niggly sore throat. And in public affairs, we’ve also been at it for years – think pharma and patient groups, or agrochemicals companies and farmers – but calling it stuff like key opinion leader mobilisation (or whatever).
But in the social media age, the concept of influencer marketing has moved on a notch:
· It is far easier to build a public platform, so there are simply more people who are influential (as well as plenty more who think they may be, but patently are not)
· Similarly, it is easier to get an influencer in front of those one is seeking to influence online than it is offline
· Higher levels of mistrust in entities like industry and media makes credibility harder to attain, and influencers can help
Cue: lots of people, including public affairs practitioners, with high hopes for online influencer marketing.