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Posts Tagged ‘Influencers’

Should Brands Pay Online ‘Influencers’ to Promote Their Products?

An article in the Harvard Business Review last week made an interesting, if not particularly novel, argument: brands should seek out independent “influencers” or “brand advocates” who have expressed support for their products in the interest of building relationships that will eventually involve the exchange of money for promotional services.

The story’s headline addresses “marketers”, but of course it’s relevant to PR pros as well. So should our clients identify and pay their “brand advocates” before it’s too late?

This issue is almost but not quite a retread of the “should brands pay for blog mentions” slippery slope debate: do we locate people who genuinely support our clients’ products and then offer them money to continue doing so?

Author Teresa M. Caro notes that brands have a lot of trouble pulling this off. Why? Because—all ethical concerns aside—it’s extremely hard to do. And proving ROI is a bit like finding the needle in that haystack.

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Digital Influencers Rule at Advertising Week Panel

Left to right: Joe Penna, "MysteryGuitarMan" on YouTube; iJustine, Web celeb; Jason Harris, Mekanism ; Ivy Ross, GAP; Jill Fletcher, Virgin America

Companies’ use of digital influencers to generate buzz has become increasingly popular and has created more media options. On day four of Advertising Week, Jason Harris, president of Mekanism production studio, moderated a panel that included video celebrities Joe Penna, known as MysteryGuitarMan on YouTube, iJustine and corporate panelists Ivy Ross, CMO at clothing retailer  GAP and Jill Fletcher, social media manager at Virgin America.

The corporate panelists agreed on the importance of selecting Web influencers who are culturally relevant to the brand or category and have a large fan base. Both iJustine and Joe Penna have one million followers or more. They take their fan base quite seriously, and are careful to ensure that their corporate involvement does not compromise their status among their audience.

iJustine, who does an average of one branded video per month, said her filter for a project is, “Would I use the product and recommend it to my followers?” In working with her clients, such as Mattel’s video Barbie doll, she finds out first if their objectives are to increase awareness or sell products, and she is cautious not to oversell. Read more