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Influencer Marketing

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Defining influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is the exercise of profiling and marketing towards specific individuals, rather than large, volume-based demographics. Why do we engage in this? Well, for the first time in history, individual influencers are starting to gain more reach and more engagement on media platforms than some of the most trusted brands and businesses in the world.

For example, a popular blogger in the UK called Zoella has 10.2 million YouTube subscribers, while the BBC has only 3.06 million YouTube subscribers. So on the individual platform, this blogger has a lot more reach than a long-established broadcaster of high quality TV content.


When engaging in influencer marketing, consider the following:

Reach and relevancy. When using influencers, make sure that you are not overly concerned with their reach. What you really want is their relevancy. Reach is great but, ultimately, if a very low percentage of that reach is relevant to you, then it doesn’t really warrant incorporating that influencer into your marketing strategy. So, balance your relevancy and reach objectives.

Peer recommendations. Peer recommendations are fantastic, but ultimately you need to disclose if these are paid-for recommendations.


The benefits of influencer marketing include:

  • Power. This is a great way of super-charging word of mouth and getting higher retention rates than traditional advertising.
  • Connected. Being able to connect with an individual influencer’s audience and leverage that audience, will add great reach and significance to your individual marketing proposition.
  • Native. Influencer marketing is native, so it will be seen by your audience.
  • Benefits SEO. Research done by Procter & Gamble found that 25% of search traffic is generated by user generated content on social media.
  • Authenticity. Influencer messaging has the benefit of a peer-to-peer recommendation and can appear as a more organic endorsement.


The limitations of influencer marketing include:

  • Control. There is no way to control these one-person media outlets, so choose wisely. A paid placement dictated by a contract would help exercise that control for your brand or business. But not all influencer marketing campaigns will have a contract in place.
  • Declaration. Declaration is incredibly important. It is the brand marketer’s responsibility to make sure that any paid or sponsored partnerships are declared by the influencer. You can be heavily fined for misleading consumers by seeding out what appears to be organic content, but is actually paid for.
  • Industry-specific regulations. Be aware of industry-specific regulations, particularly around the marketing of alcohol, insurance, and pharmaceuticals – these are heavily regulated industries. Make sure that any influencer you’re working with is aware of them too, to make sure that you’re compliant.
  • Authenticity. Influencer marketing that is too heavily branded can discredit influencers and compromise the integrity of their own channels. So make sure you work with influencers to make sure that the content is relevant, credible, and authentic.
  • Heightened visibility. This can mean tighter regulations and scrutiny on the content pushed out through influencer channels, which the marketer is responsible for.
  • Costs. Depending on the level of influence, placing your message on their channels can be an expensive undertaking.

Online influencer balance

It’s far more beneficial for you to work with an influencer who has a smaller, more relevant audience for your brand, than an influencer who has a larger audience that is less relevant. Remember, for the most efficient use of influencer channels, relevancy should always trump reach.

For example, a piece of rugby content could be seeded with David Beckham for £10,000 for one Instagram post. This would reach 23 million followers. However, his audience are football fans and not really that enthusiastic about rugby. A cheaper activity would be seeding a tweet with Scottish rugby player David Denton. This would cost £150, and would actually have a 100%, or near enough, relevancy to that audience.

Value exchange

To work with influencers as a channel, a value exchange must occur. This doesn’t always have to involve money, but it should always benefit both parties. Brands can offer benefits such as free products, experiences, exclusive behind-the-scenes access, or discount codes. In return, a brand might look for vlogs, blogs, social media endorsements, check ins, or shares of content.


Tactics that you can implement when conducting influencer marketing include:

  • Seeding product. Show or place product in the individual social post of an influencer for either testimonial or review purposes.
  • Personalized online discount codes. Provide influencers with online discounts to seed out to their audiences. You can track this personalized discount code to ascertain whether the influencer has delivered a good return on investment for you.
  • UGC around your brand. Generate some nice user generated content around your brand by leveraging a partnership with an influencer. For example, if you are a pizza brand, you could team up with a famous boy band; they could then generate content by showing pictures of pizza on their Instagram account every night that they’re on tour. This is a great way of creating content in conjunction with an influencer that also serves your purpose as a brand.
  • Channel takeover. Influencers take over your channels and their audiences follow for the activation. This can add individual personality to your brand. If it’s perfectly aligned with your tone of voice, it can be very powerful.
  • Content produced in partnership with brand/business. This should be seeded on the influencer channel first, with later amplification from the brand.

Declaration and legislation


It’s crucially important that any paid influencer partnerships are declared, to prevent consumers from being misled. Anything that is an advertisement should always be declared as such. This can be done by the influencer saying, “I am working with x-brand,” or they could include #ad or #spons in the post copy. Making sure the influencer declares the nature of the relationship is the responsibility of the brand or the business. So make sure this is included in any contractual arrangements.


Make sure that anything that is published by the influencer on behalf of your brand is truthful. You need to be able to stand over its veracity.


It’s important that any influencers you work with do not encourage any illegal or irresponsible activity on behalf of your brand. Just because the message is coming from a platform that isn’t owned by you explicitly, it doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for it. Use common sense.


Several industries are highly regulated. These include alcohol, cosmetics, banking, and insurance businesses. Make sure that you’re compliant with your particular industry regulations.

Case study: Diclegis

Let’s look at a case study relating to a U.S. anti-morning sickness drug, Diclegis. The brand entered into a partnership with popular reality TV show star, Kim Kardashian. The pharmaceutical company responsible, Duchesnay, were ordered by the FDA to have Kim Kardashian remove an Instagram post that didn’t comply with their regulations on drug usage. They stated the ad was false and misleading, because it failed to disclose the side effects of using the drug.

The star was forced to repost the original image, with an additional 300-word verbatim disclaimer on the potential side effects. This was embarrassing for both the influencer and the brand, as they failed to comply with the individual regulations of the pharmaceutical industry. While the content reach was incredibly high – over 44 million Instagram users saw the content – it undoubtedly drew higher scrutiny for the content message.


Why should you use influencer marketing tools? They will help you to:

  • Identify and define the influencers to target or partner with in your region or vertical
  • Measure the reach and the engagement with that individual’s audiences
  • Help you deliver real insight into the success or failure of any content partnerships

Some of these tools include:

  • NeoReach. This is a great tool for managing a lot of mid-level influencers at scale. This is perfect for larger markets like the U.S. where the influencer base is quite large. Being able to input designated keywords and interest segments and being able to pull out suggested lists of influencers in those areas is a handy asset to have at your disposal.
  • TweetReach. TweetReach will help you estimate the reach of an individual’s tweets and measure a content partnership’s success or failings.
  • Followerwonk and Brandwatch. Using tools like Followerwonk and Brandwatch will help you pick up mentions of untagged brands. So, if you are looking toward a campaign around a particular brand of ice cream, but you are not on Twitter at that particular moment in time, or users aren’t tagging your brand, you’ll be able to use these tools to determine where social conversation is happening.
  • Talkwalker. This social analytics tool allows you to identify key influencers relevant to your brand or business.
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Seán Earley

Creative Director at Teneo PSG Digital

  • Creative Director at Teneo PSG Digital with five years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Social, and PR Agencies
  • Founding member of Teneo PSG Digital
  • Former Director on the Board of the Irish Internet Association
  • Passionate about creating content that captures audience imaginations and delivers business objectives

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

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