Do you want to depend on influencers to spread the word about your products, or do you want to be the influencer – setting the agenda in your chosen market?
In this blog, we’ll argue that being influential is much more important than maximising social media likes. By creating a coherent, focused, and workable brand strategy, companies can achieve sustained success and build a reputation for expertise.
Of course, you can continue writing emails to LinkedIn mavens or Instagram legends, but there’s a better way to online success.
- 1 Is Being Influential Really More Important than Being an “Influencer”?
- 2 What Does it Mean to Be Influential?
- 3 How to Develop a Killer Online Brand Strategy
- 4 Source Influential Content for your Branding Strategy
Is Being Influential Really More Important than Being an “Influencer”?
This goes against conventional wisdom. With the rise of Instagram and YouTube superstars, so-called influencers achieved cult status. With their multi-million strong follower lists, and an ability to reach directly to potential buyers, these individuals seemed to offer a short-cut to online success.
There was a lot of truth in this idea, and it’s been taken on board by marketers worldwide. In its 2017 State of Influencer Marketing report, Linqia found that 86% of marketing professionals were using influencer marketing – or thinking about doing so.
However, other studies have found that the majority of marketers have no dependable way to measure the ROI of influencer marketing. And in some ways, the promise of influencer marketing has failed to materialise.
Influencers can work wonders when advertising herbal weight loss supplements or golf swing aids, but have had less impact on IT commissioning, financial services, real estate brokerage – you get the picture.
As a result, smart companies are now coming to seek ways to be “influential”, instead of relying on influencers. And to do so, they are finding creative new ways to tailor their brand strategy. Let’s unpack how that works in more detail.
What Does it Mean to Be Influential?
There’s a world of difference between being an influencer and being influential. Influencers are social media experts who nurture their followings, and keep things simple. They tend to be happy to promote products on their channels, even if this compromises their reputation for expertise in other areas.
By contrast, influential individuals and organisations jealously guard their reputations. They curate their content to ensure relevance, quality, and originality. They treat their audience like grown-ups, and don’t monetise their following via hook-ups with advertisers.
How to Develop a Killer Online Brand Strategy
In business terms, the differences between influencer marketing and influential marketing are massive, and they feed into brand strategy in a multitude of ways. Here are just a few ideas that will help companies build trust and solidify their reputation, instead of resorting to influencer-based short cuts.
1. Make Values the Core Part of Your Brand
Successful brands are a whole lot more than extroverted video makers showing off their latest look. They need to have a purpose and mission that suffuses every piece of content they create, every customer interaction, and every product they sell.
From the “enthusiasm” of Ikea, to the integrity of Deloitte, and the family-friendly approach of Coca-Cola, examples are everywhere. By coming up with a set of values to guide their activities, even the smallest companies can begin to build a recognisable brand.
So think about what you are doing, why you do it, and who you are serving. It’s a great foundation for other aspects of a winning brand strategy.
2. Prize Consistency and Quality Over Frequency
Influencers want maximum exposure, and that’s fine. We all do, in a way, but to craft a durable, successful brand, popularity can’t come at the expense of consistency and quality. After all, companies can become famous for scandals or cheap marketing, as much as their branding strategies.
As a rule, consistency will make it easier for customers to pick your brand out from the crowd. They will know what to expect from your eBooks or blogs, even before they click. Even a single logo or off-topic blog can ruin this kind of brand recognition – so pay attention to keeping all of your content on message and consistent.
Of course, companies need to stay in touch with trends and market changes. But the secret is to do so from a solid foundation. New campaigns and content need to be both fresh and timeless at once. It’s a tough balancing act, but one that the best-branded content marketing achieves again and again.
3. Nurture a Sense of Community And Give Your Brand Personality
Finally, to become influential, brands need to build a community of loyal customers. This isn’t the same as a list of followers, who simply “like” content as it enters their feed. Instead, the idea is to encourage vibrant, self-directed communities filled with people who are passionate about your products.
Smartphone apps allow companies to create social networks of their own, where customers post queries, submit their personal bests, or simply reach out to their fellow users. Blogs can nurture ongoing debates and feedback about products, while newsletters can establish one-to-one relationships between companies and consumers.
With a mix of user-generated content, and professionally created content, companies can build loyalty and trust, maintain consistency, and promote their products in ways that go far beyond endorsements from Instagram celebrities.
Source Influential Content for your Branding Strategy
Hopefully, the values of building a strategy to become influential are pretty clear. Influencers have their place, and some markets rely on them (such as beauty products), but for most of us, grafting away at solid branding is much more rewarding.
If you are unsure about how to create branded content that builds trust and achieves your goals, greatcontent is here to help. Get in touch with our team, and we’ll find a way to make your company more influential than ever before.
Text: Sam Urquhart