By Eric R. Elmore, PICPA Vice President, Membership and Marketing
I’m a golfer, and I love watching improvement videos on YouTube and Instagram. Two of my favorites are Mr. Short Game (370,000+ subscribers on YouTube) and Manolo Teaches Golf with (830,000+ followers on Instagram). With nearly a million followers between them, golf product companies have taken notice and often sponsor video clips in exchange for featuring and promoting their products in the clips. For those not familiar with this strategy, it is called influencer marketing. Believe it or not, accounting firms may be able to succeed with similar efforts. There is, however, a lot to consider before going all in.
The concept of influencer marketing is often linked to 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. Of course, hiring a Kardashian for such influence is out of reach for most accounting firms. So, how can you adopt a version of this tactic?
First, accept that 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 widely promoted commercial. By and large, the commercial was rejected by supporters of the movement because they resented Pepsi’s choice of a white supermodel to represent them. The Pepsi brand and Jenner were perceived to be, at best, disconnected or, at worst, opportunistic. Don’t let this happen to your brand.
Next, do the research necessary to identify who could be influencers for your brand. Ask potential candidates for a media kit to see how they operate. Don’t just look at the number of followers; make sure your brand aligns with the influencer’s audience, integrity, credibility, and style of delivery. A smaller firm may not have the staff to focus on this, so consider a public-relations/media firm to help with the process.
Certain campaigns will have regulatory rules that govern this type of marketing, and 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. Become familiar with this document before embarking on your influencer effort. Though it is mainly for the influencers, you should know what governs them and what they can and can’t do or say. In the end, it’s your brand’s reputation at stake.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that influencer marketing is not prevalent in accounting. That’s probably not an oversight. CPAs are among the most risk-averse professionals in the business world. But times are changing, and maybe this type of outreach will work for your firm.
It is vitally important that you do your homework and take all the steps necessary 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 one day, hopefully, a client.
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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the PICPA's officers or members. The information contained herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For actionable advice, you must engage or consult with a qualified professional.