We all know influencers are a huge piece of your online marketing efforts. With consumer loyalty falling further every year, it’s imperative to have trusted influencers talk about the merits of your product. It’s the best kind of review.
But understanding that you need an influencer campaign is one thing. Executing is an entirely different beast — a beast that doesn’t fit neatly into any single team’s responsibility. A beast that if executed properly, could be a full-time job in itself.
So, who should execute your influencer marketing strategy? Should a social media team own outreach or does it fall to PR? Should you focus on creating a team dedicated entirely to influencer marketing? We asked the department leads at Ameba to debate the issue and here’s what they thought.
The Case for Social Teams
Team Social’s take:
“Social media teams are constantly up to their ears in engagement metrics, audience identification and social listening. We know how to distinguish between people who are actually connected to their audience and who just have a bunch of followers. Quality influencer marketing campaigns are so much more than merely putting a product in front of as many eyeballs as possible, and this is a key factor that many strategists miss the mark on.
Instead, effective influencer marketing campaigns find the people with the most engaged audiences – people who aren’t just collecting cash to promote a random product. A genuine review or endorsement, whether it’s paid or not, from an influencer who has built real relationships with their followers, is what we’re trained to find. Otherwise, we would just be running more ads.
And let’s face it, the biggest opportunities for influencer collaborations take place on Instagram and YouTube — two of the biggest social media platforms. It just makes sense.”
Team PR’s take:
“PR teams are constantly browsing through media/publication sites looking for relevant writers, hot topics, industry trends and competition. In most cases these media outlets are producing content at an incredibly fast speed, making it nearly impossible to always see what’s going live at any point in time. Add another, ultimately, search engine (Instagram) to that list, and you have yourself a whole other ballgame.
Social media teams are already on social, so it would make sense they would go through the vetting process of generating a target list of influencers. With their knowledge of metrics, trending topics and communication via social platforms, they are experts at being one step ahead of consumers and knowing where consumers will be looking in the future.”
The Case for PR Teams
“PR professionals make a living off building relationships. On top of that, it our role to position products and/or services in a way that appeal to their initial target audience (in most cases, media members). While often underwhelmed with responses from mass media pitches in the more traditional PR sense, reaching out to social media influencers often results in a higher response rate, especially if we’re being realistic in the outreach approach. Because PR is in the business of relationship building and most importantly, relationship upkeep and maintenance, it makes sense for the PR team to harvest those relationships with the emerging “media members”. Plus, we’re familiar with the traditional follow-up timing and best practices, so we can best manage those schedules and keep track of when to reach out if crickets play on the other end of the initial email outreach.”
Team Social’s Take:
“Outreach is an impossibly complicated process. It’s something that PR professionals were born to do. They foster genuine relationships quickly and in a way that makes negotiations seamless. While creating content, acting as a community manager, monitoring paid advertising, and pulling analytics to potentially adjust strategy, additional outreach isn’t always at the top of the list for the social team. To add to that, we start to believe that a person’s influence is stronger than it might actually be because we’re in our social world. PR has the big picture thinking that pulls together blogs, media and beyond. With influencer marketing being such a large component of successful brand strategy in today’s digital world, it’s best to hand the outreach over to those who do it best — the PR professionals.”
So, What’s the Verdict?
Ultimately, influencer marketing and outreach on behalf of clients will fall where you have the most resources. After all, emails, contract negotiations, product sends and reporting for just one campaign are extensive enough to be one person’s full-time job.
So, instead of thinking of it like PR vs Social Media, why not do both? Two departments are better than one, and with the right coordination, you can create an efficient, effective, influencer marketing strategy that combines the best of both worlds.
How do we pull it off? It’s not the most exciting answer, but we like to use an ever-changing, trusty excel doc where both teams add social handles and blog sites. Both PR and social teams allocate time to contribute to this list. If one team finds something of note, they throw it on the list and share with the other—with PR teams handling outreach and communication and Social Media handling the rest. Then, we find time for both teams to collaborate to monitor coverage and inclusion.
Influencer marketing is dynamic and changes every day—it makes sense to have two rockstar teams working together to cover all your bases. Like all the best strategies, yours should be a combination of tried-and-true techniques and innovation. In the end, we recommend that you assemble a dream team that combines both social media and PR.