Last week, I read two stories on influencers on sites that influence me. 😀 Since that’s a topic that has been seen here before (1,2,3) and it’s been a while since I’ve written about it, a couple of cents.
YourStory’s post, I cheered, despite failing on their influencer scale, (of 5000 twitter followers) because it asked a very pertinent question – “Are brands being held at ransom by Social Media Influencers?” I completely agree with Mekin’s tweet (cited there) on how it takes the twitterati only a few minutes to demolish years of hard work. Anyone who handles a brand account would relate to that. Expecting ‘influencers’ to mature and watch what they say is like expecting, say, a response from the nation’s leader. The other way to handle it is to be really good at what you do as a brand, be sure of yourself, be transparent, so that you can back up your tweets (no, not that kind of backup) with facts. (more)
LHI’s post was about brands leveraging social influencers. Prasant (of LHI, but didn’t write this post) had commented in the YourStory post about contextual influence, and I quite agree with his views. In fact, my stance remains the same as when I wrote this. To sum it up, (in general, there are of course exceptions including whole domains) brands tend to treat influencers just as they treat traditional media. The more reach, the better, who cares about context? No offense meant, but I am not really influenced by the gentleman in the LHI story. Mercedes needn’t care about that because I’m not really their audience. But the entire episode makes a very good story, so if that was the intent, and not necessarily the person’s influence, opportunity well spotted, and a PR job well done!
But if brands do treat influencers as media, how long will this party last, especially when people are already trying to correct their filter failure? (noise in the stream) Mass media’s indisputable role in creating perception have been blunted in the web and social eras. Arguable, but I think, in a while, we’ll see a kind of flip. Folks would start figuring out their go-to people, when making consumption decisions. I already do that – in fact, I realised that with a few exceptions, everyone on this list is a go-to person for me! Not all of them have 5k followers, but in their domains, they’re #likeaboss. What has social contributed here – 90% of them were unknown to me before blogging/twitter, but if I am asked for a recommendation in their domains, I don’t have to think twice. I trust them, and this has been built over various interactions across time.
In essence, using influencers would boil down to the intent of brands – mass reach or targeted reach (in this context) – for each activity. There are tons of ways to get reach on social media, in many ways it has already begun to resemble its media predecessors, but trusted sources remains a precious commodity. If brands earn and retain the trust of influencers in their domain – and they could only do that if they are really good at what they do – think of how it could help them when it comes to responding to those ransom calls.
until next time, an affluence of followers