Words by Bong R. Osorio

Influencer PR is the process of determining, investigating, involving and maintaining the people who create and sustain high-impact conversations with customers about your brand, products or services. It gave way to the age of deference — or putting people on a pedestal or high esteem. It will continue to grow in importance as a tool for the marketing communications industry, as the sector seeks new and inventive ways of creating third-party advocacy for brands, organizations and people.

Today, people are putting their confidence and loyalty with each other.  Endorsements from friends, family members, and colleague drive the digital economy. McKinsey, a worldwide management consulting firm, believes that marketing-inspired word-of-mouth can generate more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and those targeted clients have a 37 percent higher rate of retention. It’s in this framework that influencer marketing has surfaced, as marketers pursue alignment program for their brands with people whose mindset run parallel with them.

Recently, D+GILITY, Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) Philippines’ center for social media excellence, brought together online influencers, content creators and digital experts for a Social Connect, an event that challenges the status-quo, champions future thinking and espouses thought leadership within the network.  

Donald Lim, Country Head and CEO of DAN PH proclaimed, “As the world moves into the social space as their main platform of interaction and communications, we believe brands should learn how to generate real connections and engagement with their audience on social media. Through this event, we saw how working influencers can allow brands to create breakthroughs in social media through the right and efficient use of social media PR influencers. By partnering with these social media icons, we are able to bridge the gaps and create a better understanding how to maximize their ever-growing influence and how brands can effectively collaborate with them in communicating with their audiences.”

The event, which was held at the chic office of Facebook in BGC was kicked-off with a presentation from Bea Atienza, DAN PH ‘s Chief Digital Strategy Officer who talked about harnessing synergy between brands and influencers. Bea observed, that social media platforms were quickly becoming the newest shopping destination. Influencers such as Kris Aquino and the SM Luggage Boy have taken the role of tastemakers. Given this shift, brands must be prepared to share the stage with these tastemakers to keep up with their audiences. “We are changing the brand building model; we are seeing more of an organic scheme where brands aren’t the center, they share the stage as a co-star, director and even agents to the talents they commission,” she declared.

Today, the relationship that brands create and nurture with their communities is equally important. Mark Del Rosario, founder of “Let’s Eat Pare,” talked about how he successfully established and capitalized on an interactive space among different interest groups, which was initially an untouched opportunity on Facebook. For Mark, what was essential was the willingness to grow with communities and adapt to new platforms to stay authentic. “Mind you, all their interactions are purely 100 percent organic,” he underscored.

Laurie Lee of Facebook Philippines, on the other hand, delved into the importance of Getting It Right: How to choose the right influencer, produce the right creative and format, and use the right media. “Once brands have established a suitable mix, they can deliver more rewarding collaborations,” she shared. 

In a series of fireside chats, DAN PH agencies also had a taste of what it takes to be a content creator in today’s digital landscape. Restaurateur Erwan Heussaff, Radio DJ Gino Quillamor, and content creator Jako de Leon discussed the future of influencer marketing in the Philippines together with Fay Ballo of ASPAC-DAN and Jace Suzara of Dentsu Jayme Syfu. Likewise, influencers such as Dani Barretto, Lloyd Cadena, Pamela Swing, Cha Ocampo, Luigi Pacheco, Christiana Collings-Canlas and Vince Velasco also shared stories about pursuing their passions, creating their personal trademark, and managing businesses with brands.

Overall, DAN Social Connect delivered fresh perspectives on influencer PR and marketing, as it emboldened agencies, creators, influencers and experts to be more innovative with their ways of collaboration, to deliver more compelling, vibrant and exciting work.

Jim Guzman, DAN’s Head of Social said, “I am very happy that, once again, we were able to gather our influential Digital and Social Media leads and practitioners for fun and learning. With influencer PR and marketing evolving rapidly these days, this meet-up is definitely timely. It is just one of the many future events that D+GILITY will be hosting as part of  the commitment to drive future thinking, not just in the company but in the industry.” 

An intelligent approach to influencer PR 

To help PR professionals and marketers establish a clearer link between decisions around the practice and business results, Google, Nielsen and Carat, a media and digital communications agency set out to identify a more intelligent approach to influencer PR and marketing.

The study digs into a deceptively simple question, which to date, nobody has answered with conviction: Who (profile of YouTube contributors) influences who (profile of their followers you can identify within your panel data across different client audiences) to do what exactly (measure impact along the consumer journey to understand whether influencers can)?

The contracted study is a pioneering effort. It provides marketers and communicators an understanding of why and how influencers drive brand impact, and critically, what kind of impact they create and build. The study was founded on interviews with 12,000 people, aged 13 to 3, in two major markets — US and UK; and over 500 videos were tested across over 20 categories, delivering new insights across the full range of influencer content formats and brand integrations. The research provides a more intelligent, strategic framework for marketers to apply to their influencer marketing approach. The following are the major insights and key learnings that emerged from it:

Celebrities drive recall, influencers build understanding. Many a headline-writer has announced influencers as the new, global superstars. But influencer marketing should not be confused with celebrity endorsement. They play different roles. They have different strengths. When it comes to pure recall, celebrities still have the edge. But the data shows that influencers have significantly more impact on brand familiarity (where the effect can be as much as 50 percent higher), advocacy and driving brand interactions. Importantly, it appears that these effects can vary widely between category.

Deciding on an influencer partnership can often come down to gut-feel or a perceived ‘affinity’ with the target audience. Influencers work beyond intuition. But across audiences, categories and attributes, our preconceptions about influencers are not always borne out in the data and there is significant scope for marketers to apply a more informed, intelligent approach

Influencers are not all about millennial audiences. The study uncovered a positive response to influencers among older audiences too, though it was by no means universal. Think beyond the clichés. It’s equally powerful for other audiences (so long as you’re clear on what you’re trying to do!)

Attributes of influencers must be familiar to you. Influencers who are perceived as funny, successful and having social media savvy tended to perform equally strong across all demographics – regardless of gender or age. But all influencers are not the same.  Critically, certain influencer attributes are highly predictive of specific brand key performance indicators (KPIs).

The impact of influencer marketing is well accepted in many categories. Great examples are the beauty and gaming sectors. The research likewise showed that apps, toys, movies and television can also benefit, with brand lift and brand recall significantly improved. Importantly, certain influencer attributes are highly predictive of specific brand KPIs across these sectors. Judge numbers on action (what people do) rather than exposure (how many people you can reach). Test what works for your category and brand goal. The study found that successful content and format varies considerably by sector

It’s not just the ‘who’; it’s the ‘how.’ It’s not just the choice of influencer type that will impact different brand goals, the choice of content and format also matters, with three types of content consistently working best – and effectiveness being particularly marked in specific categories: Custom integration, where content is unique, exclusive to the brand and fully integrated with influencer content; where content may include other brands, and where content is created by a brand, featuring an influencer,

Starting with real people is key. Determine at the onset, who do you want to influence and why? Be mindful that influence is a means to delivering results, rather than an end to itself.

Influencer PR and marketing is getting things work in synergy: engaging the appropriate influencer, creating the right creative and format, and consuming the right media. Once your brands have established a suitable mix, they are guaranteed to deliver more rewarding partnerships and results.