The importance of being authentic

Size isn’t everything. I’m talking about audience size (of course). It’s not always a numbers game for companies wanting to market their products or services to customers. Quality can be better than quantity in terms of influence: an engaged, niche-demographic can be the best audience there is. I recently wrote an article about digital trends for 2017 and in that I mentioned the rise of the micro-influencer (usually with a following of approximately 30k).

This group of social media darlings have amassed significant followings but still retain key traits that companies (and audiences) are looking for: accessibility, authenticity and trustworthiness. Whether you are a company wanting to work with an influencer or an aspiring influencer wanting to work with a company, the most important relationship you have is with the audience you are trying to reach – forget them at your peril. You may have heard the term ‘brand ambassador’ used in this context, it refers to someone who has created an engaged following and a brand wants to reach this audience through this person, the so-called ‘ambassador’.

I’ve seen some very poorly executed examples of this kind of marketing, really cringe-worthy stuff. Just remember, the audience these influencers are courting are savvy social media users and they won’t be fooled by clumsy advertising, masquerading as real-life endorsement. As audiences become more sophisticated and discerning it’s time brands realised the importance of creating decent content with influencers, instead of simply pushing product placement.

Stop thinking about content ‘marketing’, start thinking about content ‘publishing’

I come from a background in editorial and I came into marketing later on in my career, but the values and integrity which I absorbed during my time at the Guardian hold true more than ever. Provide interesting, useful, engaging, thought-provoking content (blogs, videos, social media posts) that people genuinely want to share and the audience will follow. That audience is more likely to become a customer if they feel reassured by the way your company conducts itself online (and influencers will retain their valuable followers).

Audiences have changed: they make quick judgements and they are arbiters of their own online worlds. Google’s algorithm favours well produced content, so take time to consider how you can become the ‘go-to’ brand to get interesting, useful information. It doesn’t always have to be directly related to your business either. The new freelance business I’m working on will have this ethos at its core. Give people something of use and they will happily share it. Have confidence in your business offering and customers will follow.

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