Mastering “Big Rock Content”

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It’s no secret that the world of content marketing has become significantly crowded, making it increasingly difficult for businesses to stand out. More and more, businesses are realizing that simply churning out a never-ending barrage of content is not enough. It’s no longer about quantity but quality. Posting thirty or more articles and making a hundred social media posts a month means little if none of it is reaching your target audience and making an impact. As opposed to creating one significant and quality piece of content that reaches multiple audiences and yields significant results. This is the basis of the concept of “big rock content”.

So what exactly is big rock content? Jason Miller, Head of Content for LinkedIn, who helped coin the term, defines it as “a substantial piece of content that you’re creating with the purpose to own the conversation”. In other words, put simply, big rock content is a piece of content that is significant enough to help establish or in some cases re-establish your brand’s credibility and help position your business as a thought leader in the industry. More importantly, it’s a piece of content that can often be broken down into a number of smaller pieces of content, thus extending the longevity and increasing its impact.

Common types of big rock content include white papers, E-Books, webinars, research studies, conferences, etc. And while the creation and execution of a well-constructed piece of big rock content can be time-consuming, the benefits to a business are well worth it. Here are just a few of the most common benefits of investing in big rock content.

  1. Repurposing – As noted above, one of the most effective qualities of big rock content is that it can be broken down into a number of smaller, quality pieces of content. As a result, this makes repurposing said content a lot easier. For example, say you decide to your big rock content is a white paper that looks at how social media helped evolve your industry. From this one piece of content, you can create a video showing the same evolution discussed in the white paper in a visual format. Similarly, you can create a series of infographics using the various stats and data referenced in the paper. A series of blog articles can also be written using various key points stated in the paper. And all of these smaller content pieces can be mined for months, maybe even a whole year later.

 

  1. Longevity – Obvious right? It stands to reason that if your big rock content can be mined for months after by being repurposed into smaller and shorter content pieces, another benefit of big rock content is its longevity. A quality piece of big rock content that is executed effectively can and should have a significant shelf life for your business. And after all, if you’re willing to invest significant time and resources into creating content, you should want to be able to successfully mine it for as long as possible.

 

  1. Reach New/Different Audiences Through Different Channels – With a well-created piece of big rock content that can be broken down and shared in many ways, it allows for exploring new channels that you perhaps hadn’t before, which also means potentially reaching a new audience. Think about it – certain types of media and content are more compatible and work better with certain channels. For example videos and YouTube, long-form blog articles and LinkedIn. Having a piece of content that can be broken and changed into multiple other types of content makes the possibilities endless for reaching different target audiences.

 

  1. Drive Brand Awareness – It’s really the root of most marketing and promotional activities and your big rock content is no different. A strong piece of big rock content that is spread across various channels and mediums can drive brand awareness which of course, in turn, drives leads which potentially turns to sales.

 

  1. Increase Credibility/Thought Leadership – A strong piece of big rock content, with an effective promotional campaign in support of it can help establish a business as thought leaders within their respective industry and thus increase their credibility.

 

So now that we’ve established just a few of the benefits of big rock content, let’s look at a few of the steps necessary in developing a quality piece of big rock content.

  1. Consider Your Company Goals – Always the best place to start. What is the key message or topic or idea that you want to truly own or have identified with your brand? Answer that question and make that the basis of your big rock content.

 

  1. Exercise Social Media Listening – Research and understand what it is your target audience wants. Understand what they are truly interested in, their pain points, what they are saying about your company, your competitors, your industry, etc. This will help you better identify opportunities you may not have even been aware of and more importantly, better understand the kind of answers your target audience (or audiences) want from you.

 

  1. Establish Objectives & KPI’s – Before getting started on your big rock content, you must decide how you’re going to measure its success or failure. Are you looking to increase lead generation by 20% in the first three months of release, increase social media followers by 40%, etc? Knowing what specifically you’re looking to achieve will help you better strategize and effectively develop your content.

 

  1. Establish How You’re Going to Break Up Your Content – A great piece of big rock content as we’ve established, can be broken into a number of smaller, quality pieces of content. However, not every big rock content can be broken into every possible type of smaller content. Therefore it is important to establish the specific ways you plan to break up your big rock content, before getting started. It will help in how the big rock content is constructed.

 

  1. Decide On A Promotional Strategy – Obviously, the ultimate goal of any big rock content is to reach as many customers and potential customers as possible and in turn reap great benefits for your company. To do that, people have to know about your big rock content, which means a well-executed strategy to promote the content must be put in place. This should likely include all the bases such as SEM ads, email marketing, social media promotion and even traditional methods, such as press releases.

And there you have it – a brief background of what big rock content is, why it’s necessary and how best to successfully execute it.

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Tips to Avoid Influencer Relationship Fraud

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By now, it’s no secret that influencer marketing, when effectively executed, can translate into significant success and profit for businesses and brands. Unfortunately, said profitability has led to increased fraud and corruption within the industry. In a study about influencer fraud conducted by digital marketing expert Digiday, it was reported that a single day’s worth of posts on Instagram tagged #ad and/or #sponsored, contained more than 50 percent fake engagements. And out of 118,007 comments, only 20,942 were made by real people and not by bot accounts.

The issue of and concern over influencer fraud have become significant enough that various consumer and advertising watchdog groups and organizations have recently implemented a number of important rules and changes. One of the most significant, via the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), now requires influencers to disclose when a post is a sponsored ad in the first lines of their caption. This ensures that individuals don’t have to click the “read more” to know that the post is an ad since many people don’t read beyond the first lines of a caption.

The biggest challenge for many businesses is knowing how to spot and avoid fake influencers, i.e. individuals who falsely pad their follower count and misrepresent their social media presence. For the amount of money that can be made in the world of influencer marketing, it is very important that businesses do due diligence to ensure that they’re not throwing away thousands and potentially millions of dollars to fake influencers who will not positively impact their bottom line.  And in fact, may even end up causing damage to their brand reputation.

There are a number of ways for businesses to spot a potentially fake influencer. These are some of the most common and obvious red flags.

  • Sudden Significant Increase in Followers – This seems obvious enough right? If an individual had approximately 2,000 followers a week prior and always shown a steady increase of maybe two to three new followers a day and then out of the blue, their follower count increases to 10,000 or even 5,000 in a few days, that’s a red flag. Unless there was something significant that the individual did on their account, e.g. some type of popular promotion, a post that went viral, etc. it is simply not feasible that their follower count could increase that drastically. And that means they’ve likely purchased followers.

 

  • High Follower Count but Low Engagement Rate – An individual who has thousands and maybe even millions of followers but gets very low engagement for their posts, is not a very effective influencer. Now the likely explanation for this, of course, is that the individual has purchased followers and so most of their followers are really bot accounts. However, it is possible that an individual could have many followers but low engagement because maybe they were very popular at one time and gained a lot of followers but their influence had since waned, making their audience no longer engaged. Either way, this is not an influencer you would want to work with.

 

  • Type of Engagement – We all know that technology gets savvier and savvier every day and so there are sophisticated bot accounts that do comment on posts. However, the type and quality of the comments and engagement, in general, can be a red flag if businesses pay close enough attention. This includes repeatedly generic comments such as, “great post”, “awesome”, “looks great”, etc. If a potential influencer with millions of followers has 90 percent of generic comments in response to their posts, that’s a red flag. Also, if it is only generic comments, with no shares, retweets, etc., that is a major red flag.

 

  • New Account with Large Following – Unless an individual is some type of celebrity, e.g. actress, singer, etc. or related to a high profile individual, it is virtually impossible that they would have thousands of followers in less than a year. So look at the activation date of the potential influencer’s account. If their account is less than a year or even less than two years old but they already have thousands upon thousands of followers, that’s suspicious.

 

  • Credibility – Finally, the best way to avoid influencer fraud is to research the potential influencer and establish their credibility. For example, have they attempted in the past to mislead their followers by not fully disclosing that a post was an ad, have they lied about using certain products simply to get paid by the business or brand and mislead their followers, have they previously been caught buying followers, etc? As with every decision that affects your brand’s image and business profitability, it is imperative to thoroughly do your homework and research.

It is not impossible to spot fake influencers. However, as noted above, with technology getting more advanced every day, fake influencers are also getting savvier and savvier. In an industry that can net individuals thousands and even millions of dollars, unsurprisingly, corruption becomes a major issue.

It is up to businesses and brands to stay abreast of changes and be as savvy to all the tricks of the trade and of course, always do due diligence before trusting your product and brand to anyone. It is also important to remember that bigger isn’t always better.

Sometimes businesses get too caught up in the numbers game – i.e. this individual has a million followers, so they must be a more influential influencer than the individual with 5,000. Not true. In fact, AdWeek reports that campaigns driven by micro-influencers are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than those led by more influential counterparts.

Influencer marketing is a worthy investment for businesses that can afford it. It is important to ensure that it’s done the right way, with honest and credible influencers.

 

Twitter’s 280 Character Count – Is More Really Better?

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It is almost six months (yes, already) since Twitter officially switched its character count total from 140 to 280 per tweet, which means enough time has passed to analyze whether or not this was a positive or negative step for the social media giant. Based on various industry conversation, literature and just my own personal observations, my conclusion is that it doesn’t appear that there’s been much of a result at all – good or bad. In other words, the response has mostly been indifference.

I have seen little evidence that the increased character count has had a positive effect on digital marketers and brands, as well as led to an increase in users and followers on Twitter in general. In truth, much as how I felt when the increased character count was first announced, I can’t help feeling like this change was pointless and unnecessary and hasn’t really added anything to the platform.

Twitter users have long been calling for certain changes to the platform – namely, an edit function (no really, when are we getting that one), a better handle on hateful trolling, etc. – but I cannot say I remember seeing a very vocal demand for a higher character count.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many users have had moments of frustration when the 140 characters limited a great idea, quote, expression, etc. they wanted to tweet. Trust me, I’ve been there. But, and this is just speaking for myself, that is exactly what I loved about Twitter. That it forced me to have to be creative with my tweets and work on being more concise.

A little personal backstory – one of the most common criticisms I always received about my writing in school, was that I had a tendency to be a bit long-winded. For years, I was guilty of the run-on sentence. It’s something I am still working on to this day. So I loved that Twitter forced me to have to go against my natural inclination to over-explain and be too wordy and just get to the point in a direct and simple manner.

As a content marketer, I also understood the frustration of wanting to post something about a product, the brand and being hindered by the character limit, especially as URL links were counted in the 140 characters, as well as hashtags. And of course, as digital marketers, we know how important keywords and SEO is to the lifeblood of our business. So yes, the 140 character count did present challenges for businesses. However, that challenge provided the opportunity for marketers to have to be more creative in getting their message across to as many customers and potential customers, as possible. And in my opinion, they were better for it.

Also, as has been discussed in a number of digital marketing literature, we all know that many individuals’ attention span is particularly brief online. In most cases, brands have a very brief window to gain their attention. A wordy tweet is not the way to do that. The challenges that the 140 character count presented, were often simply minimized through the use of strategically placed visuals, i.e. images or videos that your target audience was far more likely to remember, versus a wordy tweet.

So in conclusion – was more really better for Twitter? I’d say, no.

*Image courtesy Google Images*

Executing Successful Influencer Marketing in Small & Traditional Markets

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It is irrefutable that in the last two or three years, influencer marketing has become a significant facet of digital marketing. Adweek reported that 75 percent of brands engage with some type of influencer as part of their marketing strategy. Mediakix also noted that “Marketers are discovering that one of the best ways to target audience groups, drive awareness and elicit engagement across social channels is by creating innovative advertising partnerships with select social media influencers.”

Influencer marketing is predominantly synonymous with social media. More specifically, it is often synonymous with celebrities and social media influencers with large, million-plus followers who charge steep prices to use their platform to promote one’s business or brand. As such, many view influencer marketing as a luxury option for well-known brands and billion dollar companies that can afford to pay significant amounts to promote their products and services.

But what about those businesses that don’t have million dollar budgets? Or businesses that exist in markets where the population is much smaller than that of global nations like the U.S.? Where large-scale social media presences are not as commonplace? Markets where the use of traditional media is still as, if not more important? Can one still effectively use influencer marketing? Is it a concept that is even relevant in these markets? The answer to both questions is yes. It simply requires a little creativity and thinking outside the box.

The above scenario was the challenge I faced as the Content Marketing Specialist for a company based in the Caribbean, representing a number of markets across the region, many of which have a population averaging 150,000 to 250,000 total (some even less than that). While internet penetration is fairly high and the use of social media commonplace, traditional media is still the predominant medium in many of these markets. In fact, the reality is that in many ways, digital marketing is still in its infancy in many of these markets. So how then were we going to make influencer marketing work within the scope and tradition of these markets? As noted above, it simply required a little creativity.

  1. Adjust Your Expectations – While it’s good to have lofty goals and dream big, sometimes the reality simply does not align with those huge expectations. In that case, it helps to adjust those expectations. Start by redefining what success for your influencer strategy within your specific scope will mean and look like. For example, what is considered successful for a business targeting a population of five million will be significantly different for one targeting a population of 200,000. Similarly, success for a million dollar brand will likely look much different from that of a small business. Like any communication strategy or campaign, it’s all about knowing exactly what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it and how you’re going to achieve it with the resources available, both internal and external. So while it is highly unlikely that your business will gain hundreds of thousands of new followers from your influencer marketing strategy in the space of a few months in a small and traditional market, that does not mean it was unsuccessful and not useful. It just means success within that market is different than a larger market.

 

  1. Keep It Simple – Piggybacking off the previous point, it is important to remember that sometimes simple is better. And in a market where the population is small and influencer marketing as a concept is still in its infancy, keeping it simple is definitely best. That may include having a goal that seeks only to increase your social media followers by just 5 percent or just increase your social media engagement by 10 percent. Or perhaps you’re having a one-off company event, such as an expo, and looking to spread awareness and increase attendance by using a local influencer or two to spread the word. Keeping things simple will likely increase your chance of success.

 

  1. Micro-Influencers Are Your Best Friends – As the concept of influencer marketing continues to dominate the industry, the term micro-influencers has also crept into the conversation. Micro-influencer has become a very important term as more and more businesses realize the power and potential need for influencer marketing but are concerned about not having the budget that larger brands do. The fact is, a small business owner is not going to have the budget to pay a social media star with 10 million Instagram followers, who will likely charge upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that is even less likely for a small business owner in a small market with a very small population. And that is where micro-influencers come in. Micro-influencers are essentially influencers with a number of followers within the range of 1,000 to 10,000. They might not be famous entertainers and social media stars but they have enough of an engaged following to positively impact a business and brand they choose to promote. Micro-influencers also work well within niches. As the saying goes, “you can’t be all things to everyone”. In keeping with the point of keeping things simple, sometimes your goal for a specific influencer marketing campaign is to attract a very specific audience. In that case, going to an influencer within that niche is a safe bet.

 

  1. Influencer Does Not Always Mean Social Media Influencer – It is true that the concept of influencer marketing in many ways was borne out of the rise of social media and more specifically, social media stars. As such, most only think of social media influencers when thinking about incorporating an influencer marketing campaign into their digital marketing strategy. But in a market where traditional marketing is still a dominant medium, the influencers you need for your influencer marketing campaign may not be on social media. In small, traditional markets, radio and television personalities, with or without large social media followers are still highly influential and can be significant assets to your campaign and overall influencer marketing strategy.

 

  1. Word of Mouth is Influencer Marketing – While the term influencer marketing seems to have been birthed only a few short years ago, the concept itself is not entirely new and didn’t start with digital marketing and specifically, social media. Much like when content marketing became the industry’s buzzword some years ago, despite the concept of using content to drive business success being around for decades, influencer marketing has existed for a long time. It was just called something else. Essentially influencer marketing leverages an individual or organization with the power to influence others’ purchasing decisions for their benefit. Word of Mouth marketing is grounded in the belief that people are more likely to purchase something based on hearing about it and getting positive feedback from people they know and trust. That includes family, friends, customers, etc. And it is a concept that it is still very effective. Hubspot reports that 90 percent of consumers believe brand recommendations from friends. So what does this mean for your influencer marketing strategy, particularly in a small and traditional market? It means consider customer testimonials as part of your strategy, rewarding loyal and influential customers to help make them organically become influencers for your brand. You can also run promotions asking customers and followers to say why they love your brand and business. It will get the word out to others and help you identify potential brand influencers you may not have previously recognized and known about.

 

  1. Strategic Alliances – Another method to have an effective influencer marketing strategy in small and traditional markets is to consider strategic alliances with other businesses that may have a strong local presence and in many ways are influential. The right partnership can not only help increase your own brand awareness but increase your credibility, open you up to a new audience, etc. And in reality, influencer marketing is a type of strategic alliance as the business is making a strategic partnership with a particular influencer often with the hope of increasing brand awareness, brand engagement, leads, etc. For example, if you have recently opened up a vegan restaurant, a strategic alliance with a very popular gym can reap significant rewards for both businesses. It is important to remember that payment for influencers does not always have to be in the form of monetary value. Offer special meal promotions that the gym can give to their members in exchange for their mentioning your restaurant across their promotional channels, including both digital and traditional. In this instance, the gym is your influencer.

 

  1. Be Your Own Influencer – Finally, your influencer marketing strategy does not always have to be focused solely on an outside, third-party influencer. Positioning your business and your brand as an expert can make you an influencer. A very common method businesses use to achieve this is by guest blogging for popular and influential blogs, websites, etc. In a traditional market leveraging the local media, including radio or television, is a very powerful way to increase brand awareness and position your business as an authority. When people start to view you as an expert, they are far more likely to trust you, at which point you can influence their purchasing decisions. This is also effective in small and traditional markets because there is often a communal type of culture. That is, that feeling of everyone knows everyone. And in such a culture, having a familiarity of being seen on important and popular television shows and heard on radio shows helps to foster a feeling among consumers of being someone important and an authority.

 

It must be acknowledged that certainly there are many businesses within these markets that cater to a more global target audience and therefore, naturally have a fairly robust social media presence. Particularly, businesses within the tourism industry, such as hotels, booking agencies, etc. And of course, the Internet and well, social media has made the world significantly smaller in many ways.

However, one of the challenges of working on a global scale is that you will work with markets where culturally, economically and socially, what works in one part of the world, simply will not work in that geographic space. At least not without some adjustments to the mindset of how it should always be done. That is definitely the current case with influencer marketing within many of the small and traditional islands of the Caribbean.

Originally published in PR News: Influencer Marketing Guidebook

Let’s Talk About That Green Hoodie (H&M P.R. Disaster)

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By now we’ve all seen the image. An adorable little black boy, posing on the official H&M retail site, in a green hoodie, with the words, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” scrawled across the front. If you’re one of the maybe few who somehow missed this story, I assure you that that is not a typo. Unsurprisingly, reactions were swift and the backlash very loud, with a number of celebrities, including music star The Weeknd and Grey’s Anatomy star, Jesse Williams speaking out against the retail giant.

Initially, I planned to approach this blog post the same way I have for other brands and companies that have had public relations missteps and that is to analyze how they handled the situation from a crisis communication perspective. And while I intend to focus on that aspect, I feel it necessary to share my immense disappointment and frustration in H&M, not just as a black woman but also as a strategic communicator.

Let’s face it, H&M is a global brand and that means, nothing is done in isolation at that company. There must be multiple chains of command and processes and various individuals and teams that either approve or veto various fashion items, campaigns, photo shoots, etc. My point is that this picture didn’t just end up on their website by complete accident or one person’s poor error in judgment.

Multiple people approved this child being fashioned in this hoodie, approved the images from the photographer, and approved the ad. So it is frustratingly mind-boggling to me that through that whole process there wasn’t one person who realized the racial implications and offensiveness of the image – really? It is 2018 and there is simply no excuse for someone to tell me that they are so ignorant to the racial history and undertones towards black people in the U.S. and around the world that you do not understand the connotations of using the word monkey with a black person’s image. And that a giant global retailer like H&M would make such a bubbling error is inexplicable. Again, because there is no way that this happened without multiple individuals seeing it and approving it.

An interesting irony of this incident is that it was only two short years ago that H&M was being praised for their brilliant “Close the Loop” campaign, which celebrated diversity. The campaign featured models of various shapes, gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc. And yet, today we are here, where an entire creative team at H&M, including marketers, advertisers, photographers, and communicators, saw nothing wrong in an image of a black boy wearing a shirt with the words monkey in a jungle scrawled across its front.

What this incident has truly shown me and hopefully shows others is that while immense strides have been made in the world regarding the issues of race and diversity, we are not even close to where we should be. And more dialogue and conversation recognizing that we in many ways are still failing dramatically needs to happen. It needs to happen in all walks of life and it needs to happen in our industry. Because the fact is women and minorities are still underrepresented in top leadership positions around the globe.

I don’t think for a second that H&M intended to be offensive with this image. However, that’s what makes this issue even more telling and pressing. That so many really didn’t realize that it was and that is because there are still so many deep-rooted issues that we are not fully addressing as we should.

I was pleased to see that there seemed to some greater understanding of these deep-rooted issues from H&M in their second and more official statement, in which they stated, “Racism and bias in any shape or form, conscious or unconscious, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable and need to be eradicated from society. In this instance we have not been sensitive enough to this agenda.”

It was certainly a much better statement than their initial one which was pitiful at best, making the grave error of noting anyone that “may have been offended” by the image. One of the most important rules of crisis communication is to simply own your mistake and apologize without qualifiers. There was no may since it was clear many people were unquestionably offended. I also think H&M missed another significant step in crisis communication and that’s communicating with their audience what steps they would take to ensure that something like this never happens again. Hopefully, that plan is being implemented as we speak and they just forgot to let us, the public, know about it.

The greatest lesson I can say that we as public relations practitioners and communicators can take out of this incident is that we need to do more. Do more as individuals, as teams, as companies and as an industry to where hopefully, incidents like this don’t happen again.

Five 2018 Resolutions for Communicators

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Happy New Year! It’s officially 2018, and you know what that means – renewed hope and excitement for the year ahead. And of course New Year resolutions. As I noted in last year’s New Year article, making resolutions aimed at improving one’s professional life is just as important as resolutions for improving your personal life. Thus, here are five that P.R. pros and communicators should consider for 2018.

  1. Set Professional Goals & Objectives for Yourself – No qualified public relations practitioner or communicator sets off on a campaign without an established goal and objectives. Goals and objectives are the foundation of any well-designed communication plan and a quality communication plan is the road-map to any successful campaign. The same rule applies to your professional journey. This year, establish clear and concise goals and objectives for your professional life and use it to help guide your decisions, actions, and ideas throughout the year.

 

  1. Get to Know Your Company/Fellow Employees – It is very easy to get so bogged down in all that you have to do that one becomes isolated to just their department and the co-workers in said department. However, no business can truly succeed through various silos of workers. Particularly for public relations practitioners and communicators where a large part of what we do involves sharing our brand and company story, understanding the company and faces and people that make it what it is, can help tremendously. So this year, resolve to get a better understanding of the various departments and people that make up the company you work for, including the work that they do, how they do it, why they do it, their challenges, accomplishments, etc.

 

  1. Read, Read, Read… – It can never be said enough, “Reading is fundamental”. As communicators, we should all know how essential reading is to the success of what we do. It improves our writing, expands our knowledge of topics and areas we may not have previously been exposed to, it improves our creativity, it helps us generate new and interesting ideas and so much more. You simply cannot be an effective communicator unless you read frequently. This year, resolve to challenge yourself and improve your reading habits. Already a voracious reader, great – add 10 or 20 more to your usual reading count. Join a reading challenge like Goodreads 2018 challenge, expand your category search, etc. For example, maybe you’ve never been a fan of autobiographies or historical novels (I’m not) – read at least one this year. After all, you never know where inspiration can come from. Which brings me to the fourth resolution.

 

  1. Think Outside the Box – In last year’s article, I suggested challenging yourself and learning something new. That included suggestions for developing a new skill and looking to learning websites such as LinkedIn Learning, SkillShare, etc. The suggestion still applies but this year, resolve to really go outside your box in trying something new. Consider something that on the surface you may not think has anything to do with the work that you do. You may be surprised to find it is just the thing that sparks an idea, a new concept or provides a new source of connections, influencers, etc.

 

  1. Attend More Conferences/Professional Events – Thanks to the internet and social media, it sometimes feels like simply talking to one another, face to face, has become a lost art. However, there is something to be said for having in person, one on one interactions, where we can pick each other’s brains, share ideas, knowledge, etc. Conferences and professional events are a great opportunity for this. Not only do you learn a lot by individuals from sometimes very varied industries and backgrounds sharing their knowledge, but it is a great opportunity to meet new people and network.

Once again, Happy New Year! And here’s to an exciting and fulfilling 2018.

Tips for Successfully Executing Influencer Marketing Strategy on a Budget

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In previous articles, this blog has discussed the benefits of influencer marketing and tips for picking the right influencer for your influencer marketing strategy. However, while many companies and brands have embraced the importance of influencer marketing, there is still a pervasive misconception that it is a strategy for big businesses and global brands. Companies with million-dollar budgets. In truth, small businesses are more than capable of executing effective influencer marketing strategies. Like with all campaigns, it just takes having a clearly defined plan and strategy. Here are a few tips.

  • Use Micro-Influencers – According to HelloSociety (an agency that connects brands with the right influencer for their campaigns), micro-influencers are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with large followings (source: AdWeek). Micro-influencers are essentially influencers with a smaller audience as the regular influencer. However, smaller does not automatically mean less influential. As I noted in my post about picking the right influencer, it’s not always about big social media numbers. Yes, while an influencer having a large following is indicative of their reach, it does not always mean that their followers are engaged. Sometimes the individuals with 2,000 followers may have a far more engaged following than the individual with 2 million. Micro-influencers are typically cheaper than major influencers while achieving the same goals.

 

  • Contribute to their Content – Influencers do not always live on Instagram or Snapchat or the like. Many also have blogs and quite a few are willing to accept submissions from others, as long as it is in line with the theme and topic of their blog. Finding an influencer that allows guest posts for free is a very cost-effective way to utilize influencer marketing. It is also important to remember that influencers are not always individual people. Industry magazines, trade journals, news shows, television shows, brands, etc. can all be influencers. And a popular and influential magazine, for example, is a perfect avenue for submissions and guest articles that will be seen by a large and significant audience.

 

  • Offer Free Products/Services – One of the biggest hesitations that small businesses have regarding influencer marketing is that there is simply no budget for it. However, payment to an influencer does not always have to come in the form of money. Using resources that your business already has is a great way to save money while getting the most out of your influencer marketing strategy. For example, if are in the fitness business, e.g. own a gym or a vegan restaurant, etc. and you would like to work with a personal trainer or fitness expert with a large and engaged Instagram following, you can offer special discounts to the trainer and some of their most loyal customers in exchange for their posting about your gym or restaurant.

 

  • Activate Fans into Influencers – Here’s a little fact that some businesses are completely unaware of. Some of their potentially most effective influencers are already customers and fans of their brand. Many businesses assume that they need to look outward to find effective influencers, when the truth is, sometimes, someone with a fairly decent sized and active social media following is already using their product or service. Identifying those individuals and working with them can not only be a cost-effective way of executing a successful influencer marketing strategy but also an organic and credible way since the influencer was already a user and a fan of your product or service.

 

  • Become Your Own Influencer – I know what you’re thinking. It takes a long time to build enough of a following, credibility and influence to become an influencer. And yes, Rome was not built in a day. However, the potential benefits of establishing your business as an influencer are numerous, not least of all the costs saved by not having to constantly look elsewhere and pay others. Becoming an influencer largely involves establishing yourself as an expert and thought leader and there are many avenues to do so. Become a professor on websites like SkillShare, contribute to high-quality publications like Forbes and industry magazines, host free seminars, webinars and/or expos, etc. When people start to view your business as an expert and an authority, their trust in you will increase, which in turn will increase their willingness to buy whatever you’re selling.