Inspirations, deep thoughts, surprising insights, or random ideas on how social media intersects PR.
In the Public Relations field, we always talk about “borrowed credibility,” using a source’s credibility to get your own message further. In Chapter 6: Borrowing Trust, Mark Schaefer applies this concept to building what he often refers to as an alpha audience, or a key following. Building an alpha audience from the ground up can take a great deal of time and content. Schaefer turns to “influence marketing – a plan to find ways for trusted online personalities and experts to become advocates who spread you content” as a way to develop his audience (127).
I found it surprising that in a field where we we are all competing for an audience’s time and attention, Schaefer states that “connecting to a borrowed audience has become a mainstream marketing strategy” (127). Content creators are working alongside influencers to get their messages out there.
As future public relations professionals, our focus will be crafting the right message and pushing it through the right channels to the right people. It is interesting that Schaefer pointed out that niche influencers are the most sought after by agencies and marketers today. Audiences are much less inclined to tune into messages passed on by celebrities because it is almost always extremely evident that they are being paid to promote something. People are now turning to these niche influencers, self-made experts, who are famous for their content in an area (131). They are immediately more credible because they eat, sleep, and breathe the industry that they are a part of. They know what they are talking about and usually will only promote something if they really believe in it.
A great example of these niche influencers that I see at work all the time are beauty gurus on YouTube. Many of them are self taught in the arts of makeup and hair, and post tutorials, reviews, and favorites videos to educate their viewers. They have cultured a strong, if not large following solely based on the content that they produce on their YouTube channels. With this success, comes great power. One bad review on a product they tried can be a death sentence for a company, but having a product featured in a favorites video can quickly send it flying off of shelves. Often, companies send these beauty gurus samples of their products, with no string attached, hoping that these niche influencers will feature their company in a positive light on their channel. I, personally, have purchased many products because some of my favorite YouTube personalities sing their praises.
Borrowing a niche influencer’s credibility and audience can provide access to a a group of people that the content creator may not have been able to reach before. Gaining this type of exposure allows a content creator to begin building their own alpha audience of die hard supporters. They are gaining their trust using an influencer as a channel. Opinions of people that we trust carry a lot of weight when making decisions, tapping into that relationship is one step closer toward success.
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