Should your next comms campaign be all about influencers?

At a recent conference, a major player in the sports arena shared details of how their communications focus is moving away from targeting traditional media to developing and courting social media influencers.

As the conference was held under Chatham House Rule, I am not allowed to divulge who this information came from – suffice to say it is a major, global brand that is known to everyone (that is no exaggeration).

10 years ago, this brand had lost ground to its main competitor so they had a “brand reset” and created a new overarching comms strategy. A big change was to focus on key markets and expect the rest of the world to follow, rather than trying to communicate with the entire world at once.

One of the four primary roles of their communications team (along with earned PR, owned/paid social and sports/entertainment talent marketing) is now to engage social influencers. And this is where it gets really interesting…


At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, this brand made a bold decision to give 70% of its talent interview opportunities to social influencers and only 30% to traditional media  based on the knowledge that:

  • Traditional media will not talk about the brand; influencers will
  • Influencers have a far greater reach (more than 150million social media followers)
  • Influencers are more integrated with the brand so advocacy is much, much stronger
  • Influencers are easier to work with than traditional media
  • Influencers crave the experiences high profile brands are able to provide for them

…this brand now expects to give 100% of its talent interview opportunities to social influencers at the next Olympics.

So how do they choose which influencers they will engage to deliver their message?

Work with people who are credible and fit with the brand. It’s not just about how many followers they’ve got.

Have you begun introducing social influencer engagement in your communications plans? Will you consider it after reading this?