Any idea goes through three phases before it is finally accepted as the norm. The first phase is the ‘ridiculed’ phase – where there has been no proving of the sustainability of the idea, it has nothing to stand on – and is easily challenged. The second phase is the ‘violently opposed’ phase – where the idea begins to prove itself by having developed considerable merit – and typically begins to threaten older ways of doing things – the ‘status quo’. The third phase is the ‘self-evident’ phase, where you can no longer argue with the idea because it is now no longer just an idea, but it is in full play, having become a part of everyday life.
Influencer Marketing is one of those ideas whose time has come. It has already entered the ‘self-evident’ phase. It has quickly become one of the strongest channels in the marketing world. Influencer Marketing has evolved some ‘Best Practices’ that influencers can leverage to become much more effective with their own influence. Following are what we feel are the top seven, most effective benchmarks an Influencer must consider to increase their effectiveness and sustainability as a channel – and create value for brands and agencies – as well as their audience.
The most effective thing an influencer can do is measure their own true influence. Influencer Marketing is the one place where ‘keeping score’ is imperative! If ever there was a truer application of the statement, “If you can’t measure it – you can’t manage it,” being an influencer is it. Your influencer ‘score’ is your digital resume. It is a GIANT endorsement of your influence – a proverbial ‘track record’. Are you tracking your influence in each campaign? Are you capturing more than just ‘impression’ and ‘hashtag’ tracking? It is vital – as a serious influencer – that you capture full, ‘depth-of-influence’ viral attribution – or you are missing the credit for content that is being distributed throughout many networks – that you initiated! Most tools available today only attribute the ‘first degree of influence’ to the influencer. Once you’ve distributed your content, the impressions or views from that initial reach are all that is attributed to you. If the content gets shared – which is an obvious plus for the main beneficiary that the content represents, the original influencer typically doesn’t get credit for any viral distribution attribution. But there is now a tool available to the savvy influencer – that is an influencer’s dream-come-true. It is a content distribution tracking device that works just like a GPS. It follows the virality of content, right from the moment it is shared, attributing it at every level, in every direction it goes, throughout the entire network – ‘to infinity – and beyond!’ So an influencer can now get credit for all their content distribution – not just in first-level width – but also in depth, ‘ad infinitum’.
2. Authentic Voice
As an Influencer, you are a bridge between the brand or agency – and your audience. You were hired by the brand or agency because of your influence – your audience. Your audience follows you because your content is – well – yours. As you have published your content, your followers have developed trusted relationships with you. It is those relationships that brands and agencies want to tap into. So when they provide content to an influencer, they typically already know that while there may be ‘branding guidelines’, they must allow you to format the content in such a way that allows your authentic voice to be recognized. Your messaging can’t be perceived by your audience as ‘brandy’ – or you will quickly begin to diminish your audience trust.
3. Rich, Valuable Content
In an age of ‘fake news’ and unvetted content distribution, research and fact-checking is paramount to both building and maintaining trust with your audience. You could loose a heap of followers very quickly with bad information. Research takes time, but the value that authentic content holds is – well – invaluable. The opposite is also true! Also, creating your own, unique content is great, but there is never anything wrong with sharing great content from others in a similar field. Validating existing content from other sources will only increase the opportunity for others to validate your content – strengthening your audience all the more.
4. Stay In Your Lane
Don’t try to be ‘all things to all people’ by juggling being influential in too many arenas. This is where the saying comes from, “Jack of all trades – master of none!” When you take on ‘expertise’ in too many areas, you dilute the perception of your effectiveness in a few – and nothing will affect your influence faster than being weak – at many things. Time just doesn’t allow for your field to be widespread. Pick 1 or 2 topics – and put your full effort into them. That will foster expertise over time – and attract an audience – that will then attract the brands and agencies.
5. Relationship Building
This is where the blood, sweat and tears comes in. You have to go out there and intentionally build your audience. The saying, ‘build it – and they will come’ does NOT apply to building an audience that trusts you. It may take longer than you think at first – but stay with it. It eventually gets easier as it gets bigger – because your audience will begin to self-replicate, based on the validation that naturally comes from large followings. Sustainable relationships – the only ones worth having – are built on trust. It takes years of effort to build that trust – and seconds to destroy it. Take your audience seriously – continually feed it with great content – and you will keep them for the long haul!
6. List of Amplifiers
There is ‘direct’ influence – and ‘indirect’ influence – and both have value. There are those you know – and those who know those you know. I call them ‘affiliate-influencers’. It’s all part of the ‘rypl effect’. The rings get bigger as they get further out. And you want to influence as many ripples as possible – to continue to build your audience. Good business people have leveraged the wisdom of fishing with a net – over fishing with a pole. You get more fish that way – and faster. You can choose from the large haul, what fish to throw back and what fish to keep. As an influencer, one of your ‘nets’ should be ‘Amplifiers’. Amplifiers are people with significant followings, who may not have the ability to create content, but they have amassed a following because they continually share great content that they think has value to them – and like-minded people have begun to follow them, knowing that they will be privy to some great content – albeit it second-hand. Some people know all about fish, others just like to fish – and others still get into ‘fish distribution’. Those are the Amplifiers. They are a content creator’s best friends!
Finally, everyone likes to be appreciated! When your audience is given the opportunity to engage – and be rewarded for that engagement – and the level of engagement it further creates, you’d be surprised at how many will step up. This drives what I refer to as ‘depth-of-distribution’– and creates an intentional ‘ripple’. It has always been true that when you drive depth – width takes care of itself. With the tool I mentioned in point number 1, you can even track the effectiveness of your audience’s influence throughout their networks, allowing you to reward those with the strongest results. Another way to drive depth is by using Calls To Action. CTAs are key to driving influence deeper and increasing impressions – and revenue. If you’ve gone through the trouble of engaging them in content, it only makes sense to direct them to how they can apply what they’ve learned in a personal way. Many brands are willing to offer a ‘rev-share’ program to influencers, when they can track sales back to that influencer. The tracking tool mentioned at the beginning is already built to do just that. Go to https://www.rypl.io to learn more about that tool.
Influencer Marketing is being touted as the future of marketing. This unique channel is set to take ownership of a very large piece of the marketing space for a long time to come. As an influencer, you can solidify you place in this great space by knowing your true influence. And brands and agencies can get an aggregate or overarching view of their influencer teams as well.
Feel free to share these 7 Habits of Highly Effective Influencers with others.
Ted Lederer 647-212-4849