The Making (and Measuring) of an Influencer
I’m probably not the most likely ‘influencer’ in the world. I started writing London-Unattached almost immediately after my mother died when I was already about twice the age of the popular you-tube and blogging stars. I had no ambition to join them – I just wanted to understand what they did!
My own background is in Marketing – I have an MBA, have worked at a senior level in Banking and Telecoms and have been a board level planning director in an advertising agency. Since I left Vodafone, I have worked as a consultant on various senior level marketing projects – I was the acting Marketing Director for the launch of Orange in Belgium and I’ve run international projects in telecoms and financial services. Oh, and I’ve also founded and sold my own successful dot-com business, a portfolio of dating sites. But, after 8 years of looking after my mother, during which time the dot-com boom had been and gone and social media had emerged as a major factor for anyone in consumer marketing, I was a little rusty.
So, with a liking for getting my hands dirty, it seemed obvious to start a blog and see how everything fitted together. I never expected to carry on doing it for years. I never expected to get addicted.
I’ve been writing my blog now for 6 years. I was thrown in the deep end a bit when I first started because I won a place at a large food blogging conference. I listened to some of the world’s biggest and best-known food bloggers speaking about what worked for them, how they’d turned their blogs into their careers and how we could all do the same.
Somewhere along the way the term ‘influencer’ began to be thrown about a bit. I’d learnt early on that you should promote your blog via social media. But, with the growth of Instagram, the Influencer was born.
Some of my blogging friends called it ‘microblogging’. Some just got hooked on posting pretty pictures and gave up their written blog altogether. I watched with awe as some acquired tens of thousands of followers in a matter of days or week.
Social media platforms came and went. We, the influencers, were disturbed when the owners of the platforms started to tweak the way OUR content was shown to OUR followers. Instead of paying us to promote products and services, it became clear that some of the platforms wanted the brands to pay them. Perhaps with the endorsement of one of us…but nevertheless all those thousands of followers we’d acquired started to look less significant.
The first to go down that route was Facebook. Then Facebook acquired Instagram. Now, the Instagram algorithm is almost as unpredictable as the Facebook one. Which platform will be next?
My point though is that the commercialisation of social media is inevitable. The owners of the platforms aim to make money for themselves, they are not in the business of providing a revenue stream for influencers. And, in any case, I’m not sure any of us should be quite so dependent on any one social media platform.
The concept of a blog – an online diary – is that it provides a platform for us to write. For many of us that is writing about something we are passionate about, something where we have a special expertise or something where we want to share our views and vision. Social media for a blogger like me is a means to an end, not the end in itself.
Instagram, like Twitter is an ephemeral platform made even more so by stories. Post an image and some content on Instagram and it is gone within a few days. While we may have new followers who trawl through our photo galleries, in marketing speak Instagram and Twitter are predominantly about building immediate brand awareness.
By contrast, Pinterest provides a platform with a naturally long influence tail. If I am planning a trip somewhere I will create a board and pin everything I find that is relevant to that trip, be that hotel reviews, itineraries or even recommended packing lists. If I am refurbishing a room, I’ll save pins to a board like a scrapbook. I have boards for cool restaurants I want to visit and boards for great days out I’d like to try. And, I get traffic to my blog from pins I created over 3 years ago…
My aim as a blogger is to strengthen my main communications platform – the blog itself. Social media provides a means to do that and while I appreciate that some PRs and brand managers are looking for promotion on social media alone, I aim for an integrated approach that I hope will deliver strong results over time. I want my blog posts to be well ranked by Google and the other search engines. I want social media activity to support my blog both by raising awareness of what I am writing about and by driving direct traffic to it. And, I want to be able to prove to brands and PRs that I am doing that consistently and effectively.
That’s why I love what we are building with blogl. For the first time, when I’ve finished writing up and promoting a trip I’ve been on, I can press a button and produce a slick report that shows much of what I’ve done. The likes and comments are there for my Instagrams, the likes and retweets are there for my tweets. And, every blog post I write is listed with a clickable link.
If I carry on writing for a month or two and promoting the restaurant, hotel or region then I can track and report everything I do automatically. It’s fuss-free and easy. And, for the first time, I can start to provide an insight into the integrated reach for each campaign I work on.
I know I provide a good service. And, now I can prove it. Why don’t you try it yourself and visit blogl.com? Whether you are a blogger yourself or a marketing professional, you should find it helpful.