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2016: The Year of the Influencer

Influence its 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 havent seen large brands and large campaigns leverage social influencers like we may have wished.

Dont worry. Its happening. Its like the one machine you really want to use at the gym with a sign on it that reads Were Working On It.Its 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, Im fresh out of nautical metaphors.)

While we are waiting, lets look differently at influence. What is influence? Its not synonymous with fame. Its not the new version of celebrity. Influence can be large or small. It can be general or very specific. Its not the size of the following but how you use it.

Dont 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 youre looking to engage influencers, look for the mid-tier and below, youll find greater value.

Watch The Media

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Whether people are using ad blocking software or not, its 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.

Form Alliances

The best firms and brands anticipate where they will have to be next. If you havent started developing a group of loyal influencers, you should. Not every agency or brand is doing it yet so youre not too late but winter is coming. And theres no way youll be able to rule the Seven Kingdoms without an army of supporters.

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Engage in Real Time

This is why having a group of influencers is key. Youre 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 cant 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. Dont contact them only when you need them. If youre 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.

Were at the early point in influence where if you engage properly with influencers you can create a loyal group a group that your competitors cant access. So get to it. Or someone else will.

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Images via Pixabay: 1, 2

About Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is 2015’s Best Business Blogger (Shorty Awards), one of the 50 most influential people on social media (Forbes), the #1 Ad Executive on Twitter (Business Insider) and dances like Drake. Find him on Twitter @BarrettAll.

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