Thursday, February 18, 2016

What is influencer marketing?

I remember debating with an agency-side Head of Social whether influencers really existed. She thought not. I thought so. However, even as I made my case I agreed with many of her points; there’s a big difference between reach and influence.

For example; I followed Kanye West’s Twitter rant this week, it reached me even though I’d normally have nothing to do with the guy, but he’s not one of my influencers.

Influencer marketing, I argue, is essentially another spin off from “press relations” and like SEO it should have been owned by the PR industry, it isn’t because it’s heavily digital, and instead is used mainly by SEO, content marketing and social agencies.

So, what is it? I think we’re all publishers now which means it isn’t just newspapers, magazines and traditional media outlets that can reach audiences nor is influence the preserve of those channels. Today, celebrities, bloggers, community owners and curators are all capable of influence.

Influence doesn’t always manifest as encouragement to buy product. Today’s influence might simply be used to generate clicks and valuable impressions, it might spark conversation which could lead to increased social clout or additional editorial coverage, perhaps links, for SEO value.

Influencers are generally approached to help promote a story. A common tactic is to get the influencer involved in the story thus giving them and any loyal audience skin in the game.

Influencer marketing is easy to talk about but hard to get right. You can spend a lot of money for very little in return or you can spend a little and unlock great value.



This post is inspired by the news that Bloglovin’ has bought Sverve. I knew both companies.

I never got into Sverve, I don’t think, as a blogger. I looked at it but couldn’t quite reassure myself that they had the scale and pitch quite right but always felt they were nearly there. Being bought by Bloglovin’ might be exactly what they needed to push over the success line.

I’ve mixed feelings about Bloglovin’. I love the community, didn’t need the RSS reader alternative and corrupted the follower count system.

Let me explain the latter. The number of people following your blog on Bloglovin’ (the RSS reader alternative) is public. The more you have the more popular your blog looks. My problem with that comes from my agency experience; most of the people who use Bloglovin’ are other bloggers. The Bloglovin’ follower count simply measures the echo chamber.

In some cases I think it makes sense to subtract the amount of Bloglovin’ followers a fashion or lifestyle blogger has from their Twitter or Facebook followers, for example, in order to get a better feeling for what their natural audience size is (sans fellow bloggers).

The new platform, replacing Sverve, is called Activate by Bloglovin’. Let’s hope it doesn’t lean too heavily on Bloglovin’ echo chamber metrics.

I think the match up is a good one. I bet Bloglovin was frequently approached by brands and agencies looking to do some influencer marketing. With Sverve/Activate by Bloglovin’ in place they’re better able to handle those requests and turn a profit.

Hopefully Bloglovin’s awareness of what bloggers are writing about (trending posts is already a thing in their platform) can combine nicely with Sverve’s own influence metrics and the new platform can really help identify a range of influencers (small to large) and empower people to pitch them safely and effectively.

The proof is in the pudding; I've signed up to see how things go.

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