I’m a golfer, and I love watching game improvement videos on YouTube and Instagram. Two of my favorites are Mr. Short Game, with 262,000 subscribers on YouTube, and Manolo Teaches Golf, with 631,000 followers on Instagram. With nearly a million followers between them, golf product companies have taken notice and often sponsor some of their video clips in exchange for featuring and promoting their products in the clip. This, my fellow AAMers, is called “influencer marketing.” And you can do it, too! However, there is a lot to consider before going all in.
When we hear the term influencer marketing, most think of the Kardashian family. In 2014, Kim Kardashian was paid $500,000 to hold her birthday party at a Las Vegas nightclub. The stunt drove thousands of social media posts and helped make the club a must-visit spot for young and hip visitors to Sin City. As marketing professionals at accounting firms, hiring a Kardashian or paying $500,000 for such influence is out of our reach for most of us. So how can accounting firms approach this strategy, ensure success, and mitigate risk?
First, understand all influencer marketing is not necessarily good. You need to decide if the upside is worth the possible downside—the risk/reward ratio. For example, Pepsi tried to demonstrate its support for the Black Lives Matter movement by hiring influencer Kendall Jenner to lead a big-budget, widely-promoted commercial. By and large, the commercial was rejected as supporters of the movement resented Pepsi’s choice of a white supermodel to represent them. The Pepsi brand and Jenner were perceived to be disconnected, insensitive, and opportunistic. Don’t let this happen to your brand.
Next, do diligent research to identify who would be potential influencers for your brand. Ask them for a media kit to see how they operate. Don’t only count the number of followers they have, but make sure your brand aligns with their audience, their integrity, their credibility, believability, and style of delivery. If you are a smaller firm without staff to focus on this, consider outsourcing a PR/media firm to help with this process.
Understand that certain influencer campaigns need to know the regulatory rules that govern this type of marketing. You don’t want to get this wrong on a technicality. The Federal Trade Commission has a document called Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers. You should become familiar with this document before embarking on your influencer effort. Though it is mainly for the influencers, you need to know what governs them—what they can and can’t do and say. Because, in the end, it’s your brand’s reputation at stake.
It’s no accident that influencer marketing is not prevalent in accounting. Our profession is among the most risk-averse in the business world and tends to be more serious, stodgy, and less gimmicky. But that does not mean it cannot work for your firm.
Do your homework, and take all the steps you can to protect the integrity of your brand. Hire an influencer that best reflects your brand, cares about its perception, is the least risky, and has followers who are mainly your audience. Make sure there are calls to action in the influencer’s messages to drive traffic from the influencer to your channels, landing pages, or website. Remember, you want their followers to become your followers and, hopefully one day, a client.
Good luck with your influencer journey, and let us know at AAM Minute what has worked and not worked for you.
About Eric Elmore
Eric R. Elmore is the marketing and brand manager for Drucker & Scaccetti, a tax-focused accounting firm, in Philadelphia. He has more than 20 years of experience working with professional service firms helping them communicate to the world who they are, what they do and why it is of value to targeted audiences.