The role of a digital influencer and of social media marketing is a landscape that is constantly evolving and changing at a rapid pace. When I first started this blog little over a year and a half ago I was told that numbers were where it was at. It was about getting your page views and so bloggers joined linkys as a way of getting their blog posts seen and commented on. However, as someone who once loved linkys and is a co-host of a linky, I now question whether they still have a valid role to play. I believe that they do but I believe that the landscape of linkys has changed too. More on that later.
It’s Not Just About Your Blog
A term that we are hearing more and more nowadays is digital influencer. In order to be a successful blogger you can no longer just rely on your writing. Brands are more likely to want to work with you if you are someone who has Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Brands are very big on YouTube at the moment, and as YouTube is the second largest search engine you can understand why. This has meant that bloggers/digital influencers have been scrambling around to grow their audiences on all platforms. Instagram is notoriously hard to grow your audience and for a while it was fashionable amongst some digital influencers to play the follow and un-follow game. Don’t do it. This seems to be losing its popularity and with good reason too. Don’t follow someone purely because you want to bolster your numbers, to only unfollow them later. Follow them because you want to. Don’t be fake. Instagram shouldn’t be about the numbers.
Pods And Linkys
Last year, linkys were really popular and I loved a good linky. They were great for getting your post seen and for getting some comments. The same can be said for comment and like pods when it comes to Instagram and Facebook. In order to beat Instagram being a member of an Instagram pod can help. For your post to get pushed out and shown to more people Instagram wants to know that it is liked and it is popular. That is why when you first post a photo on Instagram the first 15 minutes are crucial. The more likes and comments you get and the higher up the feed it is, the more people Instagram shows it to. However, things seem to be changing and linkys and pods seem to be losing their popularity. Why is that?
Are Pods And Linkys FAKE?
Some people have become disillusioned with linkys. For some bloggers it is no longer about finding new blogs to read. It is merely about ticking the box. Getting your numbers up. That means you can often find you are left with very short comments when you join a linky. Comments like – “great post” means that in reality I couldn’t be arsed to read it and I just leaving a half-hearted comment as I need to comment on the post before mine and I want to push my links up. Does this mean that you shouldn’t join linkys? No! I’m a co-host of a linky and I think that linkys still have a place to play but choose your linkys carefully. Choose the ones where you know that you are left good quality comments. Don’t look at it as a numbers game. Instead of leaving loads and loads of comments, choose to leave quality comments on less posts.
The same goes for pods on Instagram. Sometimes we need to play the system to get our post seen so yes an Instagram pod can be useful. But if you don’t want to end up feeling like it is completely fake and contrived then try to get yourself in a pod with your friends, with people you admire on Instagram. People who you would comment on anyway. However, there are rumours that Instagram is penalising people who they think are in a pod. This is part of Instagram’s drive to make Instagram more authentic. There has been shadow-banning. This is not clear cut and no one is exactly clear on what causes it. All I would say is that when using Instagram you should try to mix up your hashtags, do not use the same group of hashtags again and again. Also when commenting on other people’s Instagram leave quality comments. Not one word comments like “amazing”. You don’t want Instagram mistaking you for being a bot.
Facebook pods have been shown to help. Again, Facebook is notoriously hard to crack and to succeed on Facebook you need to be sharing content as well as posting your own. You also need to show that you engage with your readers and that it is a two-way dialogue. This can also be applied to YouTube too.
What Does The Future Look Like For Digital Influencers?
A recent article stated that influencer marketing budgets are likely to double by the end of 2017. Hurrah! Or not. There is a shift away from content marketing and that could mean that if you are purely a blogger who relies on your blog posts to make money, then you may struggle. Now is the time to diversify. It won’t hurt you to try and establish a presence on another social media platform too. On the whole this is good news for digital influencers. Research has shown that social media influencers are trusted more that the brands themselves.
What Does That Mean For Me?
In the past it was about the numbers. The bigger the audience and the more likely a brand would want to work with you. However, as we all know, audience size is not the most reliable of metrics. It is a metric that can be bought. Some digital influencers did try to buy likes and followers. However, Instagram is savvy and is now shutting down the companies offering these services. Now brands are looking at your audience and the relationship that you have established with them. It’s the old cliché “quality over quantity”. For those of us who plod away, trying to create good content and refusing to play the follow and un-follow games this is good news. Research has also shown that the bigger an audience for a digital influencer then the less engaged they tend to be with their audience. Whereas those with the smaller audience tend to nurture their audience more. Having an engaged audience is key for a brand when they are wanting to raise brand awareness.
Authentic Is Where It Is At
This doesn’t mean that everyone should stop doing linkys and abandoning their pods. These still have a place to play if meaningful interaction is taking place. It is reassuring though. It means that those who have bought fake followers and likes won’t have a bigger advantage. Brands are now looking to work with digital influencers that have had an organic growth. They want digital influencers that are clear on their own brand identity and that are good creatively. If you have started your own Instagram or Twitter community then you may find yourself in demand. Having your own community means that you have an established audience who buys into you! Brands now realise that audience numbers and likes cannot be used as an accurate metric.
Digital influencers everywhere should be happy. Numbers are now out and being authentic is key. Being yourself is where it is at. It feels like 2017 could be the year for authenticity. Be yourself and hopefully a brand will want to work with you.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think 2017 is a good year for digital influencers?