Over the last decade or so, Social Media audiences have grown considerably. Figures from Statista show that there were 2.46 billion users of social media in 2017, which is a considerable increase on the 0.97 billion users of 2010. This incredible increase has meant that there is now a bigger audience than ever for brands, journalists and PR’s to produce content for, more platforms for them to distribute their content to, and more ways for their audiences to consume the content they put out there.
Social Media has of course had an impact on the way in which news stories and content is being sourced. In years gone by, stories and news about companies would be sourced by PR’s and journalists having regular telephone conversations and a little more recently, regular emails. Now though, we’re seeing it be increasingly common for social platforms such as Twitter being used for this – you only have to look at the ‘JournoRequest’ hashtag to see this is the case. I’m not saying that emails and telephone calls are dead when it comes to trying to outreach to journalists, but more often than not, you’re faced with a “they’re not available/in a meeting/’any-excuse-I-can-think-of-to-get-you-off-the-phone’ type response, which can be frustrating. Using Twitter to go directly to the journalist instead can be a great alternative to sitting on the phone for hours, or risk your email not being read due to the hundreds journalists receive on a daily basis. A 2014 survey by ING, titled the Study of Impact of Social Media on News, backs this up, with it finding that just over half of journalists use social media as their primary source, and this statistic is likely to have risen in the few years since.
Interestingly though, the study also found that according to the PR professionals surveyed, journalists are in contact less frequently to query or check facts and statistics. Naturally, all statistics sent out by the PR agency should be correct, but if they’re not and it goes to print in a publication, or uploaded on to the website, who is responsible for the mistake? The PR or marketer who put the wrong figure in the original release, or the journalist who didn’t check the facts?
Consumption of brand material, whether that’s through press releases or content marketing has also been shaped by social media. Content travels significantly faster, reaching a considerable audience, with each person having the ability to engage and re-share (republish) in very little time – in short, content can go viral.
The rise of the influencer should also be considered as a way in which marketers have seen social media change the way they work. Many brands have turned to social media ‘stars’ (I use the term ‘stars’ quite loosely) in order to better engage with their target audience. These ‘personalities’ could have come from anywhere – Made in Chelsea, TOWIE, Love Island or even a YouTube channel, but they have an audience, who look at them as some sort of inspiration, and therefore these influencers are able to persuade their audience to their way of thinking with relative ease. Marketers are taking advantage of this, and have been for a few years now, and are paying influencers to mention, use or promote their products, services or brand. There are a number of examples of brands using influencers in this way:
1) ASOS & ASOS Insiders
Clothing retailer ASOS are well known for using influencers as part of their overall marketing strategy, and the Insiders project is no different. Essentially, the fashion ecommerce company picked a group of fashionable 20-something’s who already had a large Instagram following, and uses them to promote their clothes all over the world. Each Insider has a different look, which gives ASOS the ability to connect with a considerable audience, regardless of style preference.
2) Mercedes-Benz & Loki The Wolfdog
The US arm of German automotive giant Mercedes-Benz partnered with Instagram-famous dog Loki The Wolfdog (yes, that’s right, I said ‘Instagram-famous wolfdog’ – he’s got 1.7m followers you know!) and his owner Kelly Lund in 2016 to promote the then-new Mercedes GLS. Together, they created a 360-degree video of them driving through the snow in Crested Butte, Colorado, which was uploaded to YouTube and can be experienced through VR or on a desktop browser. The trip was of course promoted by Mercedes, Kelly and Loki through their own Instagram accounts.
3) Circulr & Alex Bowen, Amy Neville, Chet Johnson, Kristina Micic + Joss Mooney.
Popular watch retailer Circulr have teamed up with a number of influencers, including fashion bloggers, Love Island contestants and fitness bloggers to model and promote their watches. With each one of these Instagram heavyweights commanding a follower count in the tens of thousands, Circulr have proven the power of the influencer, having grown their own account to over 123,000 followers, and have gone from a start-up to selling thousands of watches a month in just 18 months.
4) ExxonMobil & “What’s Inside?”
“What’s Inside?” is a father and son duo, compromising of Daniel and Lincoln Markham, who cut create videos of them cutting objects in half to discover what’s inside them, and then post them to YouTube. Their video in collaboration with ExxonMobil titled ‘What’s inside an engine?” was produced with a view to advertising the oil company’s new automotive oil product, and amassed nearly one million views.
These are just a handful of examples of influencer marketing – there are hundreds more – and now a third of marketers see influencer campaigns as essential to their overall strategy.
I could go on about the ways in which social media has shaped PR over the last few years, but one thing is for sure – it has definitely had an effect on how PR’s engage with journalists, how brand marketers engage with their audience, and how content is being published.
If you would like to talk to us about how we can help with your PR and Social Media needs, then get in touch with us today and we’ll arrange a meeting.