The following is a guest post by Rick Riddle. Rick Riddle is a successful blogger whose articles aim to help readers with digital marketing, entrepreneurship, career and self-development. Connect with Rick on twitter and LinkedIn.
Getting an influencer to support your product is like striking gold. As an outsider who has no vested interest in your product, they will do so much better of a job of talking it up than you ever could. That’s why it works so well.
If you want to use it, however, you better know what’s going on, because influencers are people too and they learn. That means that a strategy that might have been effective a year ago now will only earn you scorn and derision. For that reason, it’s important to stay ahead of the trends out there.
So let’s look at a few of 2016
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Platforms are emerging
You know the saying about ‘when there is demand there will be supply’? That’s no doubt true. What everybody keeps ignoring, however, is that when there is supply and demand there will be a middle man.
Those are being formed right now. There are ever more platforms where influencers and companies can get in touch. For example, BuzzSumo and Help a Reporter. Though both of these platforms approach the problem of connecting businesses and influencers differently, they are both effective in doing so.
Influencers are figuring out what they’re worth
A big problem with these middle men, of course, is that it’s making it clear to the more clued in influencers how much they’re worth. And that means that getting them to promote your product is becoming more difficult and if you’re willing to pay, prices are rising. As a result, campaigns that might have only set you back a few hundred dollars two years ago might cost you thousands today. And that hurts.
The key here is that some people are figuring it out. Not every is quite as clued in yet. For that reason, you can still find influencers who can be more easily influenced. If you do find somebody like that, hold on to them, shower them with affection and make them loyal to your brand before somebody else does or they figure out how much they are actually worth.
If you can do this effectively (i.e. without them noticing that you’re buying their loyalty) then they will remain loyal even when the true nature of the influencing market becomes clear.
People are clueing in
That means that you have to focus on getting those influencers on your side that actually create engagement, rather than just have a lot of views. In other words, you want influencers with fans, not just visitors.
In truth, this is true in all areas nowadays, but still, it bears exceptional saying here. Because as people clue into the way they’re being manipulated by influencers they will grow ever more resistant to their claims. They might even become openly hostile to those that have been more clearly purchased by companies.
The best way to counteract this is to make sure the influencers you’re using are about quality and engagement. Don’t play the numbers game. Instead assume that if they’re good at what they do, then sooner or later the numbers will come their way anyway. It’s like you’re investing in them and they’ll pay you off somewhere down the line when the less gifted influencers who are more blatant about what they’re doing have been turned on and left behind by the consumers.
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IRM is learning tricks from CRM
Some companies are now actually enlisting teams that are purely occupied with reaching out to influencers and making sure that the brand is mentioned in a positive light. These groups are being compared to CRM, though there are some key differences.
With IRM the goal is to reach out individually to the influencers and get them to put a positive spin on things. It is then up to the influencer to use their network to scale the outreach and create the effect that the companies are looking for. It’s almost like your outsourcing your advertising to these individuals. As these people are as important as they are, this approach requires careful management, so as to get the best approach.
What this means for you is that if you’re still winging it in terms of influencers, don’t expect to make much headway. Companies now have dedicated teams to making sure these people say and do what the companies want. It’s going to be hard to compete with that if you’re just sending out a tweet to them every few weeks.
Instagram is on the rise
With Instagram just having passed the 500 million mark, even while their video presence has grown by 150%. That means not only that the photo-sharing app is stopping anywhere soon, but that it’s going to change and possibly become even more influential – particularly among influencers who see it as their And platform of choice.
So it seems like it’s about time that you too get used to how it works, who are the movers and shakers in your niche and what lingo is specific to that platform (there always is some) as Instagram is hot and something you desperately want to be associated with if that’s what you want your brand to be.
In fact, there are some that are announcing Instagram will be the death of youtube. Now, though that might be a little premature, as youtube is still massive, it is undoubtedly true that Instagram has the wind in its back. And that is a good place to be.
The power of micro-influencers
Micro influencers often have more engaged audiences than celebrity influencers. And since, as already mentioned before, it’s now more and more about engagement that can mean micro influencers are more interesting to companies.
This is particularly true since micro-influencers are, in turn, more easily influenced. They might be new to the limelight, or they might not yet be used to being approached and befriended by PR people who are after their positive opinions.
That means they can give you a better return on investment, engage more readers and even – if done correctly – make your brand seem more authentic and original. Those sound like pretty good reasons to spread your outreach, don’t you think?
Influencers are no longer a sidebar
They are part of the main course. That means if you’re not yet working on developing them, you’re running behind the pack. It’s no longer just advertising and content marketing efforts to increase traffic that will do it for you.
Start reaching out and creating relationships with those people that can actually influence opinion. They don’t immediately have to be celebrities, they just have to have influence. Yes, it might take a while, but it is not yet too late to start influencing minds.
If you wait much longer, however, it might well be.