2016: The Year of the Influencer
Influence — it’s the buzz word of 2016. Thought leaders, including myself, have it written in our Trapper Keepers with hearts around it. We love organic content because it gets better responses. Influencers make it easier to convince and convert with that organic content.
But 2017 will be the year of influence, not 2016. Four months in to the year and we haven’t seen large brands and large campaigns leverage social influencers like we may have wished.
Don’t worry. It’s happening. It’s like the one machine you really want to use at the gym with a sign on it that reads “We’re Working On It.” It’s hard to be patient but while we are waiting there are other exercises we can do.
Large brands are yachts. Influencers are speedboats. Influencers can make turns, adapt faster. As both an influencer and someone who has been working in organic content for years, this predicament is not foreign. It takes time to make a shift, to correct course but when it happens you make sure you are ready to ride the wave. (Ok, I’m fresh out of nautical metaphors.)
While we are waiting, let’s look differently at influence. What is influence? It’s not synonymous with fame. It’s not the new version of celebrity. Influence can be large or small. It can be general or very specific. It’s not the size of the following but how you use it.
Don’t fall in love with numbers. Someone with 5,000 very loyal Instagram followers can be just as valuable as someone with 100,000 followers. If you’re looking to engage influencers, look for the mid-tier and below, you’ll find greater value.
Watch The Media
Whether people are using ad blocking software or not, it’s clear that certain mainstays in promotion are becoming less effective. If people cut the cord from an advertising-based TV model next year, digital and organic content will be even more crucial. Media will forever be tied with promotion because brands will always want to follow the audience.
The best firms and brands anticipate where they will have to be next. If you haven’t started developing a group of loyal influencers, you should. Not every agency or brand is doing it yet so you’re not too late but winter is coming. And there’s no way you’ll be able to rule the Seven Kingdoms without an army of supporters.
Engage in Real Time
This is why having a group of influencers is key. You’re going to want to move faster with influencers. Right now, the status quo is to build relationships when you need them. Fine, but that takes days or weeks. Our media culture is speeding up, not slowing down. A good idea five days ago is not always a good idea today. Being able to capitalize on trends or moments organically can’t be done without developing a means to contact influencers.
So make this manageable. Start with 50 influencers that you think would be good for your brand.
1. Get in touch, reach out, provide some kind of value for them. Bring them in to the fold.
2. Create a way to send out messages quickly when you need to activate this group.
3. Diversify your influence. Make sure you have people on Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Twitter and possibly Twitch and muscial.ly.
4. Keep providing value for influencers to keep them involved. Don’t contact them only when you need them. If you’re not running a campaign, engage with them. See what they need in their career and see if you have assets to help them as well.
We’re at the early point in influence where if you engage properly with influencers you can create a loyal group — a group that your competitors can’t access. So get to it. Or someone else will.
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