Although microtargeting has recently received a bad reputation due to nefarious activity around US and UK election campaigning, the practice continues to operate at great pace in the brand communications sector, generating strong results for brands.

Microtargeting, simply put, is is an influencer marketing strategy that identifies the interests of specific individuals and then aims to influence their thoughts or actions, often with the help of a blogger, influencer or celebrity.

Behind every marketing campaign is a real person with specific needs. Learning how to reach them through personalisation and contextual targeting has become a major consideration for account handlers in PR, advertising and digital marketing.

Getting influencer marketing right
Influencers have become an invaluable asset for brands in enabling this ‘bridge’ to the end audience. The key to success when choosing influencers for your campaign is to find an influencer that can promote your brand authentically. Each influencer has their own individual style and brand personality, which in turn attracts a niche follower group.

First consider what audiences your influencers tap into and whether their values align with your brand. As a brand, it’s more important than ever to define your target audience through research and audience analysis, so you can choose the influencer most relevant and influential to the audiences that are key to your business.

More than half of influencers are now producing branded content and that trend is likely to rise over the next year. But if you’re not working with the right influencers, you are wasting your time. You want your selected influencers to become brand advocates and actively support your company. If you want your message to resonate – relevance and context is even more important than unique visitors or followers, so really understand the content first and whether your message fits.

If you’re promoting a new gadget for example, there’s no point selecting someone just because they have a huge amount of followers – Mary Berry is a huge influencer but if you look at her followers, she has little influence with gadget lovers!

Listening and selecting
One of the first steps in considering influencers is through social media monitoring. By tuning in to your social media mentions and blog posts about your brand, you will find out which influencers and advocates are already talking about your brand. Also look at the relevant hashtags to identify people talking about the subject matter you are interested in and then you can begin to follow these influencers on social media and monitor what they say.
Whilst the concept of influencer marketing appears straightforward in practice, PR professionals are encountering new challenges when in comes to effectively reaching their target audiences. Finding the right influencers to channel messages through is not always easy and, according to Cision, 80 percent of influencers say they receive irrelevant pitches. With so many influencers out there and because of the vastness and the reach of social media it can be a very difficult task to narrow the field down and select the right ones so a professional influencer database and a comprehensive conversation monitoring service are the tools that will help you in the first steps of getting your campaign off the ground.
Using a comprehensive and specialist software package, such as Social Influencer Search, you can search over 800,000 vetted influencer profiles by keyword and find digital influencers that are publishing content on a particular topic, tweeting, sharing content or blogging about a specific keyword. You can filter results by beat, outlet focus, location, country, market, which outlets they write for and what topics they cover. Results can be organised into granular lists for advanced targeting and the package also includes an Influencer Rating to help you gauge the influence of a contact and zero in on those who are most prominent based on their most recent blog posts and tweets.
Influencer marketing in practice
When you see an advertisement or a feature about a new car in a newspaper, consider this. How many people reading it are thinking about buying a new car at that moment? In reality about 95%-99% will not be! That’s not at all targeted or contextual but it is a very expensive use of publishing space! Microtargeting is about being a lot more accurate and contextual and getting very specific messages across to very specific audiences. It’s about drilling down to find the right audience that is open to your message and delivering the right messages via the right influencers at the right time and place. Below are four examples of successful but very different influencer marketing programmes that did just that.

Maserati’s Contextual Approach
Maserati, the Italian carmaker, epitomising luxury, elegance and class took a contextual approach to its influencer marketing strategy with this recent campaign using three different influencer to promote different features and appeal to three very different audiences. To promote its luxury models, the brand arranged a photoshoot in Courmayeur, Italy with three influencers including Scott Schuman, James Walker and Jenny Walton. Scott Schuman, creator of The Sartorialist, is a blogger and photographer who describes his interest in, “Creating a two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life.” His Instagram feed is the ideal medium for Maserati to reach more than one million people interested in elegance and luxury and one post with pictures of the luxury car in the snowy alps generated more than 34,000 likes. Jenny Walton has a fashion blog and Instagram feed celebrating high-end fashion and created two sponsored Instagram posts, showing how Maserati’s design elegance pairs perfectly with her elegant fashion. James Walker, a car performance expert, published seven sponsored Instagram posts to 192,000 followers. One of the highest performing posts is a video showcasing the speed and handleability of Maserati vehicles in the snow.
Airbnb: Celebrity Newsjacking at Scale
The secret behind Airbnb’s tremendous growth is the company’s influencer marketing strategy. The marketing goal is simple: to make Airbnb a global phenomenon in the hospitality industry. To achieve this, Airbnb collaborated with some famous celebrity influencers in the Summer of 2015 to increase the brand’s reach and maximize exposure. The company took a newsjacking and opportunistic approach to influencer marketing by approaching celebrities that used their platform around key events.
When Mariah Carey became the first influencer to book her Malibu accommodation through Airbnb, Airbnb’s marketing team got in touch with Carey’s managers and were able to persuade her to become an influencer. Carey, with over 6 million followers on Instagram, posted a picture taken at the luxurious Airbnb beach house in Malibu she stayed at. She tagged Airbnb in the picture and the post received 45,000 likes. Today Airbnb centres a lot of its marketing campaigns around major events. During the Super Bowl in 2017, Airbnb provided Lady Gaga with a $20 million estate in Houston to stay at. Lady Gaga thanked Airbnb in her sponsored Instagram post, in which she posed in front of the house.
Not only did the post reach out to Lady Gaga’s 27 million followers on Instagram, but it also got a lot of coverage from the press, with features in Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, and People. As a result in the last two years, Airbnb’s engagement rate has been 4% due to 37 sponsored posts by various influencers. The posts have received 18 million likes, and over 510,000 comments. The combined reach of the brand’s Instagram initiatives has been a whopping 966 million.
Lagavulin’s Microtargeting Approach
While some brands use multiple influencers for mass reach, others draw on a single name in order to target a niche audience. Scotch whisky brand, Lagavulin worked with Parks and Recreation actor, Nick Offerman to release a 45-minute video starring the actor. The campaign aimed to reposition the brand as one that’s relevant to a young audience, using YouTube to reach a whole new demographic of digital natives.
The video itself put a clever spin on the phenomenon of yule log videos which allow people to watch hours of footage of a burning yule log fire. Lagaluvin’s video involved Nick sitting by a fire, doing nothing more than occasionally moving and sipping whisky.
The video’s strangely captivating and humorous nature, alongside the cult appeal of the influencer, ensured viral success. It generated 2 million views in just one week, with the brand’s YouTube channel subscribers increasing from 5.5K to 23K due to the campaign.
National Geographic & International Women’s Day: B2B Influencers
Lastly, on International Women’s Day 2016, National Geographic launched an influencer-driven campaign that aimed to deepen an emotional connection with consumers. “Make What’s Next” was a campaign to encourage young girls to study or work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
National Geographic posted 30 images on its five Instagram accounts, with each one taken by influential wildlife photographers. The photos, which featured a number of prominent female scientists and adventurers, were hugely well received, generating over 3.5 million likes.
By capitalising on a popular event, and drawing on real-life stories, National Geographic was able to deliver an authentic and inspiring campaign, showing that influencer marketing is an effective strategy for B2B campaigns too.
These four examples demonstrate a focused yet creative approach to targeting niche audiences using influencers and the results of each demonstrate great levels of engagement and interaction with the brands; so much more than is possible with a press only programme.

Getting the right influencers on board is key. The right influencers not only have large followings, but also a captive audience that makes decisions based on an influencer’s advocacy of a product or service. Creating deeper partnerships with influencers that hit exactly the right note, will elevate your brand’s unique personality. This sympatico approach gets strong results and fantastic brand equity.