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5 Predictions about Influencer Marketing from 5 Marketing and Communication Professionals

5 minute read

Gina Gulberti

Who would have thought that PR professionals would change their focus to incorporate not only journalists, but also social network users and bloggers too? We call them “Influencers,” experts on specific topics that are active content generators and followed by communities who are interested about what they have to say.

Who would have thought that PR professionals would change their focus to incorporate not only journalists, but also social network users and bloggers too?  We call them “Influencers,” experts on specific topics that are active content generators and followed by communities who are interested about what they have to say.

According to our Influencer Marketing Report, marketing and communication professionals face three main challenges: the first is identifying relevant influencers, the second is engaging them and the third is analyzing the results of their influencer marketing actions.

We wanted to get the inside scoop from 5 of the most influential communication and marketing professionals there are, so we went ahead and interviewed them. See what Brian Solis, Kevin Dugan, Arik Hanson, Roxane Papagiannopoulos and Frank Strong have to say in their predictions about the future of Influencer Marketing:


Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group


Are “Influencers” something new? What is changing for PR practitioners?

Influencers are not new to the world of marketing and public relations. They may however be new to some PR strategists. Whether we’re talking about tastemakers, subject matter experts, prosumers, or enthusiasts, certain groups of people have always earned authority and/or popularity that affects people’s impressions and actions. Today, they’re much easier to identify thanks to software. Engagement however, still takes a delicate and informed approach.

Knowing the influencers is an important first step. Too often, PR practitioners reach out to influencers as if they were part of a generic database waiting for pitches to come their way. Everything starts with understanding why they’re influential in the first place. Who do they influence and how? What’s important to them and why? What are their preferences for contact and potential                                                                                     engagement?

Don’t miss the Altimeter’s report ‘The rise of Digital Influence’,  a ‘Must read’ if you’re interested in this topic.


Kevin Dugan, Director of Content, Empower MediaMarketing

What criteria do you think, define an online influencer?

I can sum up the criteria that define an online influencer in a single word: relevance. Relevance assigns influence. If you are trying to sell Disney Cruise packages, I don’t care if you have an authority in marketing and media on the cruise, live tweeting their experience. Marketing pros are not a relevant choice for vacation ideas, no matter how influential they are in their field of expertise.

Relying on directional, black box sites like Klout as a definitive source of influence is not advisable. These sites are valuable. But you need to prove out their assertions and ensure, more than anything, that your audience is influential in the same topics you’re focused on.


 Arik Hanson, principal, ACH Communications

The Influencer marketing report that we published last February stated that three of greatest challenges for communication and marketing professionals in the sector are to identify influencers, interact with them and measure the results of their campaign. How do you think communication professionals should handle these challenges?

By better managing expectations internally, for starters. Identifying and finding these influencers is often a time-consuming process, and if you’re hiring a consultant/agency to do the work, it can be costly. I feel like that’s often overlooked by brands. So, I’d start there. In terms of interacting with influencers, I’d suggest brands think hard about what’s in it for the influencer before making “the ask.” So often, I see brands engaging influencers with an ask that benefits them–but rarely benefits the influencer. So, that could mean paying the influencer–sponsored posts are always an option in today’s landscape. But, if it’s not a paid opportunity, you really need to find a big benefit for the influencer. You know what’s in it for you–but what’s in it for the influencer? That’s a key question that often goes unanswered.


Roxane Papagiannopoulos, President at RMP Media Analysis

Why are online Influencers important for brands? Is Influencer Marketing measurable? How?

The online influencers are a valuable resource for the PR’s  company. They are a primary component of earned media, which is a PRs domain. The dynamic for the PR doesn’t change at all from the journalist dynamic. The journalist is paid to write and while they should be objective, that is not always the case. Online influencers aren’t paid, they don’t have a stake in the company, they aren’t influenced by deadlines or editors. The online influencer should have the same access to PRs. The successful PR will have to take the time to identify key online influencers and cultivate relationships with them.

Influencers can help promote or damage a  PRs and Marketers brand. The fact that they typically do not have a stake in the brand, but perhaps in the industry the public put more stock in their viewpoint.

The benefits of influencers is measurable just the same way traditional efforts should be measured and evaluated. The ability to link the results of media efforts earned and otherwise to business goals and outcomes. Establishing a strategy that is in line with the company goals makes this an effective way to demonstrate success and areas that may need refinement.


Frank Strong, Comms Director at LexisNexis

It seems content marketing is really linked to Influencer Marketing. Why?

It’s one path to influence marketing, but not the only path. Writing a bunch of blog posts doesn’t necessarily lead to influence and there are a range of other dynamics. An outraged customer with a just a few followers can post a complaint on Twitter and that gets picked up by a major online outlet. There are those that do not write content, but merely curate content on social channels that can be influential in their own right.

Brands need to study the spheres of influence, the relationship between people and analyze how content moves around the web. Influence marketing requires research, diligence and relationship building — those are time tested principles that have been fundamental to any effective marketing program since the post-industrial revolution. The web has just made it a little easier.


Gina is a storyteller, copywriter and communications strategist. She runs the Awareness division in Launchmetrics as Head of Content & Comms. When she's not bringing content projects to life, you can find her traveling, blogging or doing yoga!

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