Last week I joined a networking event hosted by the Surrey Blogger Collective. A totally new event for me as my usual stomping ground is London, but in recent month’s I’ve made a conscious decision to connect with entrepreneurs in the great boundaries of our wonderful capital. Why? Because there’s so many inspirational people out there living incredible lives, establishing new career paths, that in previous years were unimaginable.
The rise of the influencer
With Fatima Truscott, Fashion Journalist and Lifestyle Blogger behind the FT Times hosting, the Autumn Social networking event titled ‘Success Behind The Squares’ presented a fantastic line up of speakers, namely psychologist and blogger Anna Mathur, YouTube Star and Channel Mum SJ Strum, Parenting and Lifestyle Blogger Keely Busby, and Co-Founder and Company Director of Wickerwood, Shirley Leigh-Wood Oakes.
Insights shared from speakers and influencers on the night…
As an adult, the two places we spend the majority of our time is either at home with our families and friends, therefore an environment where we want to create comfort, stability, nurturing, and warmth – and our office space – where hopefully our employers wish to create something similar, only with a commercial, collaborative brand lead influence.
- Quality and authority – Focus on quality and authority, both micro and nano influencers, look at who they are, what stories are they telling, are they stimulating their audiences, and are they real, authentic and honest? Your followers will see through content that isn’t genuine, especially when sponsored ads pop into their feed. It’s essential to engage with your followers… reply, comment, feedback… and have a voice. As consumers, we have a love hate relationships with ads – the lines are becoming more blurred. Do consumers even know or recognise one from the other?
- Authenticity – Write about what you think and be authentic. As an influencer you are the middle person between the brand and the audience, you have a responsibility to have a two-way communication, and feedback audience comments to the brand. Be natural. Be human. Focus on great followers, know your community, and don’t be anything that you are not.
- Recognise your worth – Know your value and what you’re giving to the brand. Remember brands have a budget to work with so don’t work for free. Be confident in yourself and recognise your worth. We proud of the brands you work with, and work with brands that fit into your lifestyle. Influencers used to be at the end of the conversation, now they are right at the start – for example a real mum showing how a product fits into her and her family’s life, in her home – for a brand this is priceless.
- Be relatable – Be gentle, relate to your audience, and understand how you connect. Think audience first, how will my audience feel about me sharing this post and be responsible for your representation of a brand.
- Gifting – It’s been suggested that influencers need to make it known when they have been gifted a product that they are posting. Or do they? It’s not legal, but remember your audience and community want authenticity, so it’s probably best to reflect reality. It’s an interesting question to ask and address as currently celebrities are not subjected to this… so why the influencer? Do you think influencers should write a disclaimer if they have been gifted a product? I’m sure this conversation will continue…
- Click and pay – Platforms and new technology have launched features that make it easy for the consumer to ‘click and pay’ on social, so in theory a follower is only three clicks away from making a purchase. If that’s the case for Instagram, imagine what’s coming for TV?
- Use the features available – Maximise what’s available within Instagram, use all of their features and get familiar with IGTV. Understandably they want to keep users within the Instagram platform and video content is more-sticky; it also helps to increasing dwell time. Embrace the changes and be the early adopter of new features and channels. Instagram TV has vast volume and reach.
- Themed content and frequency – It’s incredibly useful to have a schedule, not only for your structure, but it also provides a reason for your followers to come back and check in with you. For example, create one themed video a week on YouTube on a Monday – your followers will grow to expect an engaging piece of content from you, so give them what they want. Read the YouTube bible, go to workshops, they will show you how to use the channel and tools available. When picking a theme, stay true to what your content is and stay true to you. Stick to your principles, share what you’re passionate about and know what you are there for.
Establish your boundaries – Instagram is always hungry, what are you feeding it?
It’s good to understand why you have chosen to use Instagram. It’s also good to know what it’s giving back to you – for example escapism, financial freedom, community, friendship, connection, a place to freely express yourself. With this in mind, know and establish your boundaries, the frequency that you wish to post, and stay healthy. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to respond straight away, DM and reply to everyone who’s messaged you, follow up and review all notifications… but this can be a challenge and also very time consuming.
Here, Anna Mathur – psychotherapist, mum, writer and speaker – discusses and shares her thoughts about the pros and cons of being an influencer on Intragram. With 79K followers, there’s potentially a lot of people for her to respond to – yet she makes a point of responding to all of her messages. People are emotionally connected to influencers, however, being a psychotheratist means Anna follows an ethical code of conduct and can’t give mental health advice.
Without knowing it, people and Instagram will take and take and take, so it’s imperative to know what Instagram is giving back to you. As an authentic influencer our soul is in our content – it’s hard therefore, to hear negative feedback. But there’s always more positive than negative. Be mindful to not base your value on what other people think (they may be having a really bad day). Trolling can also become an issue… so remember to stand strong in your foundations, know you are loved, these are the truths, and know you are enough.
Moreover, as an influencer it’s not uncommon to get what Anna calls an ‘Insta wobble’ or ‘funk’. She deals with them by taking the pressure off having to post every day. It’s also important to remember that not every post will receive the same amount of likes and that’s OK, not everyone or everything appeals to your audience. People are drawn to authenticity so going back to a point mentioned earlier, be true to you and stick to your principles. Don’t be scared to take a break and don’t filter yourself.
On the flip side of being connected to thousands of people, downtime must also be a priority. Leave your phone in another room so it’s out of reach. Find a balance and do things that fuel and energise you – exercise and doing something physical is really important. If yoga keeps you stable, do it daily or weekly. We need to find ways to reinvest in ourselves to stay healthy. Selfcare (or self-preservation) is essential. Everyone benefits when we look after ourselves.
Don’t barate yourself for not finishing things – life happens
To all influencers… some final words for Anna Mathur – My content enables other people to have a voice. I consider the content that I put out, there’s thought behind it – it is filtered to keep my boundaries in place. I value my family’s privacy therefore I don’t show my husband or my children’s faces, and that’s the right decision for me and my family. I am a professional and I have to be accountable – when necessary I signpost people for help – see their GP, call 111, or call 999.
When in doubt, ground yourself by putting your feet on the floor. Be grounded in your truth, you are loved, you are doing good stuff (teaching and educating), everything else is just subjective, it’s noise, it’s opinion…
Let’s work together
If you are struggling to connect with your target audience, are looking to raise brand awareness and equity, and want to develop your brand strategy to take your business to the next level, then it would good to talk so I can understand the bigger picture and help you solve your marketing challenges.
I’m always keen to meet with decision makers and speak with people who are passionate about their business, especially when they are seeking to make a positive difference in the world. Say hello – let’s talk.