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The Awesome Power of Influencer Marketing: How to Build Brand Awareness, Trust, and Cred in the Age of TMI

By Deborah Weinstein

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Ask any PR pro and they’ll tell you; nothing beats the power of positive, authentic articles, reviews, and endorsements from credible influencers – whether they’re a been-there-done-that mainstream journalist, a digital publisher with mega-bytes full of clout and SEO, or a social media maven with an ardent TikTok following hot enough to beat the band, four times a day, 24/7.

As the media landscape continues to morph, brands are migrating their substantial marketing budgets to new and alternative means of motivating consumers. Enter the complex and convoluted practice of Influencer Marketing, where brands engage real-life humans, in addition to advertising on mainstream and social platforms, to tell their stories and spread their key messages.

A full-service public relations agency with a passion for combining new with traditional means of reaching consumers, Strategic Objectives leverages influencer marketing to expand and amplify numerous of our big brand campaigns to reach new and varied audiences with authentic messages; engage them in two-way conversations; and share positive, best friend-like testimonials and reviews.

For example, here's an influencer video we created with Annabelle Cosmetics, inspired by cool, confident, fearless women.

Influencer marketing is proven successful across many of our client campaigns, and this blog cites specific examples concerning everything from hot new cars and grilling, to beauty, paint, and poop, to prove our points. We’ll also discuss the importance of sourcing the perfect brand ambassadors to connect with your target audience and build open bridges of communication to your brand. And the need to protect your brand reputation above all.

The possibilities for reaching consumers wherever they are — on their commute, the couch, in bed, or even the bathroom — through influencers, are endless and only limited by your imagination. For example, check-out our ‘Scoop on Poop’ Campaign for SENOKOT® that featured some big Canadian names.

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So, how do you get started, and where do you find the perfect brand influencer to tell your story? Let’s break down the basics based on our vast, award-winning experience.

Why Influencer Marketing?

Social media has fundamentally changed the way we interact with, and discover new products and services. The average consumer spends more than two hours a day on social media, which has become the new storefront, with one in four purchases attributed to social recommendations.

Consumer purchasing decisions have always been inspired by positive word-of-mouth from friends, and family. Now, social and digital influencers, thought leaders, and a multitude of new verticals with trusting, loyal followers, have joined this intimate, persuasive conversation.

Who are Influencers?

  • They are online personalities with established reputations for knowledge and expertise on specific topics.
  • They regularly promote their interests on their preferred social channels, whether it’s Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc.
  • They host large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views and recommendations.
  • Brands love social influencers because they create authentic, original content; promote, and leverage trends, new products, and services; and encourage their followers to consider, try, and buy whatever they’re promoting

Four Brand Influencer Archetypes

Mega-Influencers have a minimum 500K Followers and are respected, acknowledged experts in their field. They have mega clout and it’s easy for brand marketers to get excited by their large numbers. However, if you’re a Canadian brand looking to build share in Canada, you’d better check how much of that large following includes Canadians. Sometimes the ratio of reach versus cost doesn’t quite make dollars and sense.

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@mrjaymanuel Curator #Cashmere22 for Kruger Products
@seananthonyv for Annabelle Cosmetics

Macro-Influencers with 30-500K Followers have worked hard to create enticing content to build a loyal fan base through authentic interaction. They deliver high value in brand association and the opportunity to reach diverse audiences.

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WATCH @erikmcr's reel for Weber Grills Canada HERE

To help consumers understand the many benefits of Electric Vehicles, Strategic Objectives partnered with Kia Canada to produce a NEW 6-part YouTube Series: Kia Electric Education. Check out Part 1: Going Green With a Family featuring Danielle Graham and the Kia Sorento PHEV, below.

Micro-Influencers with 5-30K Followers boast higher audience engagement rates than average. They are eager to collaborate with established, new, and small brands, which gives access to their diverse and dedicated communities.

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@irina_fit for St. Francis Herb Farm


WATCH @shinelily's reel for Keen Canada HERE

Nano-Influencers with only 500-5k followers have tremendous sway and influence amongst their loyal communities who trust them, a lot. But don't let their low numbers fool you. They have potential to become your brand's best ambassadors, and don’t forget, the Nano-Influencer of today may become the Micro and Macro-Influencer of tomorrow.

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@lovely_for_less for Benjamin Moore
@khancreates for Benjamin Moore

To pay or not to pay, that is the question ...

Do you have a niche product that no one knows (or cares) about? Or the hottest new product people can’t wait to get their hands on? Is your budget small or substantial? Who and where is your target – local, regional, national, or international?

These key details will help determine if you can afford paid, or unpaid influencer relationships to best deliver your brand messages to the right audience. Remember, every brand and campaign has different objectives, KPIs, and budgets – it’s up to you, the social PR expert to guide your client to the most successful outcome.

Types of Influencer Partnerships

Campaign Specific:

  • Contract obligation on a one-time basis
  • Brands can partner with a variety of influencers to reach new audiences
  • Ideal for testing new target markets and social audiences
  • Ability to test influencer performance to see if you’d like to work with them again

Ongoing Ambassadors:

  • Long-term, multi-prong, integrated partnerships
  • Extends brand awareness and visibility
  • Increases credibility by giving the influencer ample opportunity to engage with consumers and your brand
  • Builds reputation and brand loyalty

Take for example these ongoing partnerships we built for Kia Canada, where influencers demonstrate their love for the brand, and show how it fits into their varied lifestyles over time.

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@49.ai for Kia Canada

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WATCH @withlovefromife's reel for Kia Canada HERE

Paid Partnerships:

  • Contractually obligate influencers to adhere to brand guidelines, tone, and content
  • Permits post performance tracking
  • Gives access to organic communities
  • Accelerates brand awareness and trust
  • Gives brands creative control for quality influencer content
  • Drives purchase decisions

Unpaid / Gifted Partnerships:

  • This is where brands provide free products and/or services for influencers to sample and review.
  • Some influencers don’t want or expect to be paid, and are happy to receive free samples, and intriguing invitations to special events and to review services.
  • This creates content for their social channels and earned coverage for the brand.
  • It’s important for influencers to disclose gifted products and services, so their following knows a material connection is in play.

Strategic Objectives has partnered with premium paint supplier, Benjamin Moore for 10 years, and facilitated countless unpaid influencer design partnerships across Canada to make design dreams come true.

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@thejunemotel for Benjamin Moore
@mintcandydesigns for Benjamin Moore
@tashaleelyn for Benjamin Moore

Beware! Your Brand Reputation is at Stake

  • It is a moral and legal obligation for influencers to disclose when they are paid, and/or receive free products and services. A paid influencer should acknowledge their brand partnership at the top of their post. These hashtags #AD #Sponsored #XYZAmbassador #Gifted can also be used to clearly identify relationships, paid or unpaid.
  • It is important to consider the perils and pitfalls of aligning with influencers and celebrities.
  • There can be costly consequences for breaking the Disclosure Rules. Take for example Kim Kardashian’s recent fine from the American SEC. She was dinged $1.3 million for promoting a crypto currency agency without disclosing payment.

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  • Speaking of the Kardashian’s… it’s likewise important for brands to reputation-proof their relationships with celebrities, and to take instant action when needed. The recent news concerning Kanye West now Ye – proves the point


So, what’s next? Part one of this blog has discussed the who, what, when, where and why’s of influencer marketing. Part Two presents our 10 TOP Tips to Engage the Perfect Influencers for your  Brand, and we welcome your feedback in the comments  

Deborah Weinstein is Strategic Objectives co-founder and partner.

BTW our Strategic Objectives Team would love to help you and your brand create a powerful, results-driven Influencer Marketing Strategy, should you not be into DIY.  Please contact us here  

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We are one of Canada's Best Public Relations and Marketing Communications Agencies. Please contact us here to learn how Strategic Objectives can help you craft creative, news-making influencer marketing campaigns that amplify your brand message and boost consumer loyalty.

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