3 reasons digital marketing should NOT own influencer marketing
Traackr recently released a study named “Influence 2.0–the Future of Influencer Marketing.”
I was curious, so I downloaded the full report and checked it out. But, I also take these types of studies with a very small grain of salt. After all, Traackr is a IRM (influencer relationship marketing) platform. It benefits by sharing data that reinforces the fact that many companies are spending more on IRM, but might not understand the process as well.
While much has already been written about this report, I have yet to see anyone tackle what I thought was THE big topic within the report: Who OWNS influencer relationship marketing.
Sure, the spend data is interesting (although, again, self-serving).
Sure, the maturity data has some merit.
And, actually, the data on goals of IM was pretty interesting.
But, the stats on who OWNS IM–that, to me, was the real nugget of the entire report.
And, it should upset every PR counselor out there.
Why? Because when asked who owns IM, a full 70 PERCENT said “digital marketing.”
You know how many said “PR?” 16 percent.
Because at its core, IM is really all about relationships and content–two topics PR folks should know much more about than their marketing counterparts. In fact, 5-7 years ago, this whole thing was called “Blogger Relations” or “Blogger Outreach”, before “influencers” were even a thing.
Nowadays, IM is big business (hence the Traackr study). And, that’s why digital marketing took over, which should surprise no one who’s worked in the PR field for more than a cup of coffee.
But that doesn’t make it right.
I believe PR, wholeheartedly, should own IM. Three big reasons why:
1: Influencer marketing skill sets are more attuned to PR folks
Like I said up top, influencer marketing is about two things: content and relationships. These are not skills marketers, in general, excel at. In theory, PR people should be much stronger here. Why? Because we’re trained to cultivate relationships–just like they have with journalists with years. And, in their hearts, PR folks are storytellers. They know how to spin a yarn or two. Marketers? Not so much. Their skill sets, generally, are more analytical. Skill set-wise, this should be a slam dunk. Yet, to date, it hasn’t.
2: Marketers have (always had) a different focus
A marketer’s job is all about the 4 Ps–product, pricing, place and promotion. And it’s that last one that worries me from an influencer marketing perspective. A marketer is always going to think “promotion” when dealing with an influencer. But, that scope is far too narrow. Effective influencer marketing involves nuance. It involves working with the influencer to tell a story TOGETHER. Not to instruct them to help you promote your product. PRs, on the other hand, have a completely different focus. Their MO is more centered on messaging. On storytelling. Again, just more suited to influencer marketing.
3: PR just has flat-out more experience
Not to beat a dead horse, but again, influencer marketing is very similar to media relations. No, they’re not exactly the same–obviously. But, the approach you take with an influencer is pretty close to the way you approach a journalist (even in today’s climate where many influencers are paid). At first, you just try to establish contact. Then, you work to get to know the journalist/influencer–find out what they write/post about. Who their audience is. Then, you make the pitch–and again, it’s a pitch built around co-producing content, not simply promoting. You follow-up. You keep that relationship going. All that work screams PR–not marketing (who typically see the world as a series of “campaigns”). PR folks have years of experience in this area. Why not leverage that? Why let a discipline that has virtually no experience doing this kind of thing completely take the lead? That really doesn’t make any sense to me.
Note: Images courtesy of Traackr. Download the full report here (Disclaimer: I was not paid by Traackr or its affiliates to write this article)