By Scarlett Sneddon (PR Account Executive)
The past few years have been big for influencers. Thanks to the nightmare that was #FyreFestival, New Zealand’s ASA updated their guidelines, requiring all influencers to disclose sponsored or paid posts. Even as the influencer industry becomes more regulated and complex, we expect to see PR continue to grow in 2019, with a greater focus on ROI, the impact of micro-influencers and the influx of bots.
Over the past few years, influencers have made a big splash in the PR space, with brands paying up to $376,000 NZD for their products to be talked about on Kiwi celebs’ Instagram profiles.
In 2019, however, micro-influencers are the ones to watch. Micro-influencers play an important part in reaching a niche audience, as their followers tend to be hyperlocal to their region and highly engaged in their content.
Micro-influencers offer a different scale and type of address to your standard influencers. Far from big names like Shaaanxo or Kendall Jenner, micro-influencers are likely to have less than 10,000 followers in New Zealand – such as family micro-influencers Living with the Blacks.
Most micro-influencers have audiences who are interested in particular topics (for example, a young mum with pets who loves to cook) or are located in a precise location, like Whanganui (for real, there are many micro-influencers in Whanganui). This enables micro-influencers to endorse products or services which are highly relevant to these niche groups.
Reviews of products and services by a micro-influencer are seen as accurate and genuine by their followers, as they trust the influencer’s opinions.
Influencers play an integral part of many PR campaigns these days. At FCB, we manage multiple influencer campaigns across many different projects, most often complementing other media channels, traditional PR strategies and activations.
We’ve found that engagement rates are one of the key ways to track the performance of a social (Facebook and Instagram) post in good ol’ NZ.
Engagement rates are used to measure the level of interaction an influencer receives on their content. It’s calculated using the percentage of an influencer’s audience that responds to their post or content (usually organically, including likes, comments and shares).
At FCB, we track success against client objectives, which often vary from campaign to campaign. If engagement was a key KPI, we would typically benchmark a successful post at an engagement rate higher than 2%.
We can also track website clicks and online sales for influencer content, plus sentiment and key message cut-through, amongst other KPIs, depending on the PR objectives. We’re continuing to develop new ways to measure ROI on influencer campaigns as we progress further in to this space.
An Influx of Fake Profiles or ‘Bots’
Not to be confused with the friendly character from the movie Wall-E, a social media bot is a fake account or piece of automated software used by businesses or individuals to gain more followers or boost engagement on a social profile. Bots aren’t real profiles, so they can’t distinguish what they’re interacting with or who they’re following.
In New Zealand, bots have historically been used to boost follower numbers, but now that engagement rates are attracting increasing attention from marketers, this technology is getting more advanced, and bots are being developed to buy engagements too.
To combat the bot epidemic, both Facebook and Twitter recently culled many fake profiles, causing influencers to lose thousands of followers (#SoSad). More locally, a disheartened Wellingtonian created an Instagram account to trap these bots, posting random, insignificant images in an attempt to show how many are in the windy city.
There is growing pressure in the influencer and social industry to have lots of followers and high engagements.
Essentially, if a user is relying on bots for their engagements and number of followers, they aren’t considered #influential.
When we select influencers for campaigns, we always audit their profile and content to check the authenticity of their followers and who’s engaging with their posts. It’s also important to triple check the location of an influencer’s followers, given most of our campaigns are about targeting local, New Zealand-based audiences only.
It’s unlikely that bots will ever disappear, so taking measures to ensure influencers are still considered an authentic platform for brands is critical.
The PR space continues to develop and change, and there’s no doubt 2019 will bring even more outstanding campaigns and knowledge.
FCB PR is one of New Zealand’s most recognised full-service consumer and corporate Public Relations teams. Our in-house team can concept, produce, manage and amplify experiences to ensure maximum impact.If you’re interested in discussing PR opportunities for your brand, please contact your dedicated Account Manager.