The term blogger is becoming somewhat surpassed in the sphere of marketing and social media. Indeed, the ever-changing powerhouse that is digital influence has begun to use influencer as more of an umbrella term to cover the wide variety of new and existing digital platforms. A recent study reported that we now spend around 27% of our time on social media, thus the opportunity for online influence is increasingly omnipotent. However, in this incredibly fast-paced and constantly novel market, there seems so be a degree of ambiguity around how you can actually become an influencer. It is true that there is no simple formula to building an authoritative voice on the internet. Eye-catching images, video, localisation, brevity and a proximity to trending topics is a good starting point. But what is it that can give you a competitive advantage?
By no means is branding limited to professional businesses; every individual in our society has their own personal brand. The difference is how we choose to cultivate it. The most powerful conviction that a consumer will take away from a brand, is experience. Therefore, what do you want people to associate you with when they see your name? Find your professional purpose. What are you passionate about? Why are you doing your job? You will find it then becomes very natural to articulate an authentic experience and value through your brand. Indeed, it seems that as digital marketing becomes increasingly more influential, personal branding is constantly surpassing professionalism, to the extent that professionalism can be a distinctly bad thing….
‘Uber is not a professional way to run a taxi service[…]iTunes and Spotify are not professional ways to run the music industry and Innocent is a highly unprofessional juice company.’ Craig Mawdsley
Own your name. By having a personal domain, this will not only audit your online presence but also help you rank to in search engines for your own name. Also, ensure all of your marketing channels are connected through a consistent handle. For example, all of my platforms are connected with @emilyjbenton to make sure they are easily discoverable.
‘80% of B2C marketers plan to produce more content in 2016… regardless of effectiveness [or] clarity of success’ Content Marketing Institute. So you have GOT to be individual. Imagine you’re building a relationship with your audience; be memorable enough that a consumer can differentiate you through a feeling of empathy. The best way to do this is to communicate your personality through your brand. On Twitter for example, I would say that 60% is dedicated to my blog content and related topics, whilst the remaining 40% is merely personal. By creating a healthy ratio that is demonstrative not just of your professional purpose but of YOU as well, you will naturally produce meaningful, evergreen content.
Produce shareable content that is authentic, original, useful, relevant and actionable. Make sure there is something about it that people feel they have to share with their friends. This will also help in trying to secure backlinks to your content; when your brand goes from being simply worth talking about to being worth linking to, this adds countless value. Links are the roads of the internet; they are how people are going to find you.
‘If you build it, they will come.’ Field of Dreams
USE ALL PLATFORMS
Do not underestimate the value of a having a presence on a variety of different platforms. For example, 21% of Buzzfeed traffic is now coming from Snapchat. This is mad. And take Linked In, which is no longer just a place on the internet to upload your CV, but a living profile. In this digital age, there are so many different ways to outreach to difference audiences. Take advantage of that.
Ensure that you keep a cadence to your content and communication. I know as well as anyone how difficult it can be difficult to keep to a ruthless content schedule; we’re all human. So if you’re finding it difficult to push out your own content, rather than investing in radio silence, try and offer additional content that connects with the overall narrative of your brand. It can be something as simple as retweets from various Twitter accounts that resonate with your own. Or, look for industry news or headlines from your niche, repost and recycle content from your site, or even content generated by your clients and friends.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Who is your target audience. Do you simply want the average person to be reading your content? The average person in the world is a 28 year old Chinese man. So probably not. Google Analytics is your best friend here. Use it in every way you can to see who is reading what. For example, compare bounced vs non-bounced sessions and locate high versus low value audiences to create tailored content and increase the value of your campaigns. Do your homework; demographics do not represent the complex nuances of real people.
ENGAGEMENT RATE OPTIMISATION
There is a tonne more content being produced by marketers this year, whether its useful or not. So how on earth are you going to get your audience to engage with yours? Firstly, you have to be fundamentally different and again, the most authentic way to do this is to play on your personality. To be an influencer, you cannot just do PR. Outreach like a journalist and create a story. Secondly, the more you engage with other brands, the more they will engage with you. Leave comments on Instagram, talk to people on Twitter, read other blogs and engage with conversations on platforms like Disqus. As with anything, the more you put into something the more you will get out of it.
If you are familiar with the Pareto principle, you will know of the 80-20 rule, a common rule of thumb that 80% of outcomes can be attributed to 20% of the causes. So don’t focus on perfect. Focus on producing real-time content; often as an influencer you’re looking for that speed of reception. I will be first to hold my hands up and say I am guilty of time lost time trying to make each blog post perfect. However, being current will not only give you a temporal advantage, but also new ideas for content. Take things that are already being said online and re-purpose them with your own slant. Or, start with something current and engage your audience by creating forecasting content.
‘Avoid the paralysis of perfection…’ James Murphy
MAXIMISE USER EXPERIENCE
Simple things such as making your website more interactive, producing innovative formats within your content, or even compressing your images to 70-80%to reduce page weight and load times will all help to improve user experience (UX). Ultimately, the more accessible and interesting your brand is to a user, is testament to your success as an influencer.