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The Influencer industry is one of the most powerful marketing machines for brands.

But what about the media?

Here are 5 reasons why influencers might be replacing traditional media as we know it.



  • Some Influencers have a higher reach than the media

Macro Influencers are very well-known influencers, often having more than a million subscribers. Traditionally they are top of mind if the main goal is brand awareness. There are few media outlets who can compete with this reach.



  • Influencers have more data and insights on their audiences

Micro influencers come into play when the focus is on conversions. Their accounts usually have a following anywhere from 10,000-50,000.

Both of the mentioned groups, macro and micro influencers have one thing in common: they have a very specific, tailored audience. Arguably, this audience is more transparent and engaged than the audience of e.g. an online newspaper.

Oftentimes PR teams use social media to get an idea of the sentiment of the brand or to include it into a share of voice calculation. At the same time, the majority of PR activity is not happening on those social channels, but in traditional media.

Where is the overlap of those audiences? Measuring an audience’s reaction, while not actively engaging with them is questionable.

Trust Levels


  • Influencers have higher trust levels than journalists/media

  • PR people don’t trust influencers due to the lack of control

According to research by Kantar, it is still true that consumers prefer buying products & services based on recommendations from friends and family.

Influencers have built a “friendship” with their followers. A relationship that catapults them right into the category of “a friend” giving a recommendation.

A journalist or media outlet doesn’t have the same bond with the reader.

However PR professionals don’t tend to trust influencers the same way as journalists. One reason is the lack of creative control. While there are guardrails and playbooks at hand for any influencer campaign, the end product oftentimes diverts from the brief.

Secondly there is no “direct” relationship between the PR representative and the influencer. In most cases an agency functions as the middleman.

Tracking & Measurement


  • It is easier to measure the success of an influencer campaign than the success of an article placed in traditional media

It is still common practice in the PR industry to measure the success of any media placements via ad value. Ad value is used to estimate the amount of revenue attributed to an article.

Today, tools like Meltwater, Hubspot and more are thankfully able to give much deeper, much more valuable insight into PR success. But is it anywhere on the level of the reporting we receive from influencers?

The reporting from social media is mainly focused on engagement and reach. We already talked about reach. When it comes to engagement, there is hardly any comparable parameter in traditional media.

Recipients of digital media can make use of the comment sections. My experience across over 25 markets in Europe, the Middle East and the US shows me that it is not common practice among the majority of readers.

In contrast, social media allows for a more accurate and quantified view of your customers and potential customers whilst also allowing for 2-way communication with immediate feedback on your brand or product.

More data and insights on a brand's social media activity will make PR professionals more successful.

Paid vs Unpaid


  • Media is free. Influencers offer a mix of mostly paid options of collaboration.

PR professionals often speak about the important difference between paid and earned media.

Paid media refers to external marketing efforts that involve a paid placement, such as pay-per-click advertising, branded content and display ads.

Earned media (or free media) refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising (paid media) or branding (owned media).

Unlike Marketing colleagues, PR professionals are able to place content in traditional media based on relationships. Influencers might act as media houses, but there is no “unpaid” option.

In a nutshell, Influencers are indeed mini media houses, but they are also PR wizards, marketing magicians, measurement masters and quite frankly: something that should be part of every PR plan, but not replace it.

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