What it means

An influencer is someone who has credibility within a certain industry or has earned the trust of a set of audiences and can shape their opinions and even inspire action, typically using social media as their platform. Influencers may serve as endorsers or content creators/distributors to their particular audience of followers.

How it’s used

Being an influencer has evolved from an informal activity into a more structured practice. Just as the line between paid and earned media has become increasingly blurry, this is true among influencers as well. The independent voice of influencers is what adds value to the collaboration, creating authenticity and fostering trust with the desired niche audiences.

Outside agencies have offers that specialize in managing paid influencers. Endorsements and content creation from influencers might be paid, given voluntarily, or exchanged for perks.

In the context of PR, influencers can play a similar role to the press in extending positive perception. They function as press in terms of getting the word out as some people follow solely influencers instead of traditional media outlets.

In the context of marketing, influencers may be contracted to leverage their clout with specific niche audiences that museums may not be able to reach themselves.

For issues management and crisis communication, it is a good idea to monitor relevant influencers as you would more traditional media.

Why it matters

Because of the splintering of the media landscape and diminished trust of advertising, influencers can give access to otherwise unreachable niche audiences.

Influencers often have carefully cultivated a particular audience of interest. When this aligns well with the museum’s brand or promotional intentions, influencers can serve as expert storytellers on their chosen platform. They have the capacity to help you build relationships with audiences that are harder for the museum to reach on its own.

There is also always a risk of the amplification of negative messages though adversarial influencers. Just as you monitor traditional media outlets, pay attention to influencers as they can have a powerful impact, especially in crisis communication planning.

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