Not just teeth whitening - the rise of the influencer as a communications vehicle

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What did your morning look like? Perhaps you first checked Twitter, your emails or popped on breakfast news. In that short time, you would have flicked past a couple of advertisements, paused momentarily on a news article or read some reactions to a media story online.

Companies spend considerable amounts of time and money attempting to get their message to cut-through this media noise on a daily basis. So how do these companies ensure they are getting the best return on their investment?

By ensuring they are speaking to the right people in the right way.

The new advocate. 

Traditional approaches to media and community engagement have changed and companies now need to innovate. For too long, social media has been disregarded as the domain of gym junkies, reality TV “stars”, vapid models and other disparaging descriptors. Yet social media influencing has come a long way from the sea of oversaturated selfies and detox tea endorsements of the early 2010s.   

Marketers have been aware of the power of influencers for some time and now it is time for strategic communicators to get on board. Influencers are valuable conduits for campaign messaging, community engagement and advocacy. They can speak to their audience directly and earnestly to motivate change or encourage action. 

It’s not just teeth-whitening. 

Comedian Celeste Barber (@celestebarber), with an Instagram following of 8.7 million, raised A$51 million by encouraging her followers to donate to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Brigades Donation Fund following the devastating 2019-20 Australian bushfire season.

Western Australia’s container return scheme, Containers for Change, engaged influencers to support their 2021 media campaign “Don’t Feed the Fill”. While the campaign featured traditional formats like outdoor, radio and TV, these formats were supplemented through content creators like Rebecca Marsh (@rebeccacmarsh) who shared with her audience how she teaches her kids about landfill and how their family takes their used containers to refund points to ensure they are recycled. 

These examples demonstrate the reach, power and persuasive nature of social media influencers. The selection of influencers for any campaign must be considered and appropriate, but if done strategically can improve message cut-through exponentially.

Why consider an influencer?

Why consider an influencer?

Reach As readership and viewership falls for traditional media sources, social media grows. That coveted 7.30pm spot on commercial television is no longer the boon of the 90s and ratings now hover between 400,000 and 800,000 viewers for most of the major networks. With a considered selection of influencers to support a campaign, this reach can be surpassed with ease (and at a better price point). 

Targeted metrics Influencers can offer companies more specific insights into the demographics of their followers than traditional media. Influencers can provide metrics around the countries and cities in which their audience lives, the age and gender of their followers and even their most active times of engagement. This makes investment in influencer communications significantly more powerful and targeted than, for comparison’s sake, a one-off half-page ad buy in a local newspaper where your only metric is readership. Influencer marketing should be considered as a part of a digital mix. 

Longevity Companies working with influencers to communicate their message enjoy the benefit of message longevity. While a copy of a print media ad may end up in the recycling the next day, influencer communications remain accessible indefinitely, subject to contracts and content produced. 

Repurposing Content created by influencers engaged for an advocacy campaign or a project launch can be repurposed in a variety of ways. This can be as simple as amplifying the content through paid digital advertising or as creative as utilising the content to support political engagement, illustrating community sentiment through the organic engagement with the content.  

Relevance Content creation is a diverse industry and there are influencers with niches relevant to many communications effort. Those wishing to reach parents can engage mums and dads who candidly share their parenting experiences online. Those wishing to change consumer behaviour around money could reach out to the rising segment of ‘Finfluencers’ who speak directly to millennials interested in personal finance and investing. Influencers are more than models holding products beside their face, they are trusted advisers to qualified audiences who can motivate action. 

Trust Influencers create powerful parasocial relationships with their audience, where viewers of their content are attached to and invested in the person, their lives and their interests. This established relationship is incredibly valuable to companies trying to communicate with an audience segment, as the work has already been done and the trust has already been built.  

When would you leverage an influencer? 

Influencers will not be appropriate for every campaign. There will be campaigns, projects and messaging where the strategic approach requires greater concentration on traditional media engagement or traditional community engagement, like flyers in the letterbox. Digital ads or opinion pieces also provide an avenue to your audience. However, increasingly influencers are important addition to the tactical communications mix and represent an innovative approach that may provide just the cut-through needed to help your message break through the noise. 


If you’d like to learn more about utilising influencers to support your communication, please contact Alisha Aitken-Radburn – [email protected]. 

Related services – Find out more:

Digital Communications: Strategic positioning, Digital campaigning, Digital Performance Reviews Find out more 

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