Extend Your Reach, Meet Your Audience

pexels kaboompics com 6336 scaled
pexels kaboompics com 6336 scaled
On every corner of the globe, individuals, organizations and communities are gathering in digital spaces in profound, new ways. They are meeting, gathering and sharing. They are offering reflections on the things they care about and the lives they aspire to. The world is becoming a much more cohesive place as high speed internet is becoming more and more the accepted norm. Connection is driving the social revolution and creating immense opportunities for the businesses and brands which are able to seize the moment, extend their reach and meet their audiences where they are.
According to Statista, In 2016, 78% of the entire U.S. population is engaged with a social media profile. The number of worldwide social media users reached 1.96 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to some 2.5 billion by 2018. According to Statista,  In 2016, 78% of the entire U.S. population is engaged with a social media profile. In most cases, this engagement is a daily endeavor which is increasingly becoming the main way consumers are gathering and sharing information. According to some estimates, the number of worldwide social media users reached 1.96 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to some 2.5 billion by 2018. Information technology, driven by communications devices such as smart phones, tablets and portable computers are at the center of daily life.

Connected 24/7: The Influence Never Sleeps

Just think about it: how many times over the last year have you woken up, checked your social profiles, gone about your day, checked your social profiles and finally gone to sleep, checking your social profiles. This pattern of behavior can be seen across multiple demographics and geographic locations.

Many are turning away from traditional advertising frontiers such as print media such as newspapers and magazines or broadcast media such as television in favor of the crowd and the insights of individuals they are connected to across social media platforms. Social media allows users to reflect with an audience and crowd of their own design. For some people, connecting online means accessing acquaintances, friends and family, people with whom they share a unique historical or social bond. For others, connecting online means accessing people they look up to, people who they share interests with and those who are living life in a way that is inspiring to them. For many, social profiles across multiple platforms could be geared towards accessing both groups of people dependent on the platform in use or the user’s interests in a given moment of time.

What links both types of groups however is influence. For better or worse, we all care about being acknowledged, accepted and liked in digital spaces just as we care about these things in our social lives away from our digital personas. We all aspire to be recognized for our bright ideas, to receive “likes” and friendly encouragement from the people we care about. We all want to be perceived by others as intelligent, caring and connected to the lives we lead.

Tune Them In, They Won’t Drop Out

Today’s consumers have been inundated with advertising. It is impossible to walk down the street, turn on the television or access the internet without eventually running into myriads of advertising campaigns. The thing is, where these traditional advertising spaces were met with excitement and interest on the part of the general public, increasingly, due to how common advertising has become and how experienced consumers are with tuning out branding messages, top brands have learned that they need to be more savvy about how they meet their audiences. Many millions and even billions have been wasted on advertising campaigns that though well designed and executed, never reached their intended audiences.

Influencer marketing campaigns have emerged as a link between the social landscape and the businesses that hope to access it. Unlike traditional advertising campaigns, influencer marketing campaigns are driven by social media platforms and the superstars at the center of them. Brands have long realized that by honing in on their niche markets and consumers, they are better able to meet people who are interested in the products and services they offer. Where in the past, choosing a generally well known celebrity and running a print or broadcast advertising campaign may have translated into brand awareness and clear return on investment in the form of engagement and sales; today, top brands are saving money spent on advertising and increasing revenues brought in, by narrowing their focus and going more directly after their niche markets.

Working with an influencer could mean working with a top celebrity or it could mean working with a small business owner who has cultivated a unique following across a social media channel. In either case, it is the influence over the niche market that is more important than any sort of recognition away from it. Choosing a top celebrity may not be the best choice because the fans and followers of that celebrity might be more interested in that individual’s lifestyle or creative output then what products and services they use and recommend. It’s true, in many cases, the absolute top celebrities are people who are followed and who the general public is massively interested in, the thing is, they are also people whose time and money are very valuable. If you can afford to hire a top celebrity as an influencer that could be a solid choice but what if there was a way to get the exact same recognition at just a fraction of the cost that would be spent to secure a paid celebrity spokesperson.

To give an example, imagine you are seeking to market a new type of high end fashion accessory. Choosing a celebrity to be a spokesperson, creating print, broadcast and digital advertising campaigns could prove useful to your endeavor. However, what if instead of pursuing a celebrity who is well known generally by most people, you chose someone who was exceptionally well known and respected in the fashion world? Don’t you think, someone who was already connected your target niche market could leverage greater influence over the consumers you hope to reach then someone who is just known and recognized by the general public?

And therein lies the great secret which has emerged as one of the most game changing aspects of the modern advertising space. Social media platforms are highly segmented, they are by design, catalogued and arranged according to niche interests and target markets. Just think about how many Facebook pages and groups belong to specific topics and allow fans of specific products, ideas or services to gather together and discuss the things they care about. This is the landscape of social media and brands that are able to exploit it are earning massive returns on their investment.

You don’t need to spend boatloads of money to pay a paid celebrity spokesperson, you merely need to work with someone who has already cultivated a massive audience of people who belong to the target market of your product. As your brand scales and earns larger and larger revenues, you will no doubt be able to hire, attract and work with higher and higher profile individuals, including celebrities and other well known people. The thing is, if you are just getting started or if your product is new, in many cases, you can develop the same or even greater engagement by utilizing social media superstars with large audiences related to your niche market rather than just choosing big names on their face value alone.

Influencer marketing is driven by selecting individual profiles which are highly successful. They produce exceptionally well received, shared and engaged content. The people that follow them are interested in what they have to say and can be influenced by the way they describe their lives. They employ creative visual storytelling methods to share products and services with the public. These advertisements don’t look like advertisements at all but instead just seem like honest and genuine social content. This is the key.

Exceptional Content, Exceptional Results

When people think they are being sold to, they increasingly turn away or tune out. The public has been trained to recognize advertisements and in many cases to feel disconnected to them. They do feel connected to people across social media however. Whether because of the social and historical connection they have to the person or their shared interests or the fact that they aspire to be like that person. People are influenced by other people. They care about what they think. They are interested in what they do.

Top brands are able to extend their reach and meet their audiences where they are by working with social media influencers to craft advertising campaigns which look, feel and sound like genuine reflections and insights from individuals rather than generated by advertising executives. It’s a game of smoke and mirrors but you know what? It’s working and every day, top brands of all sizes are abandoning traditional advertising in favor of this new and increasingly proven method.

When brands are able to step back from content creation and let influencers work, they might be surprised with the levels of engagement and revenue that is driven. The social revolution is well underway and for firms that can harness the power of social media, huge gains can be realized. Influencer marketing is changing the world, one post at a time. If you haven’t developed a targeted social approach to reaching your audience and championing your brand, you are missing out. If you aren’t seeking out and cultivating relationships with top influencers related to the niche markets of your products and services, you are leaving valuable points on the board.

This is a game that can be won. Influence is king in 2017, are you even playing the right game?

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