Be in the Know, Be First, or Be Best
As we discussed previously, one way to build a bigger audience is by engaging with and listening to that audience. One way to get more engagement is to be top-of-mind, and there are a few ways to do that: if you can be more in the know than your fellow industry influencers, you can be faster to break industry news and the first to review products within your chosen niche, or you can simply be the best.
In journalism, yes even in this weird post-facts world we’re temporarily living in, there are typically two winners: the first to report and the most accurate reporting. Think about how this works in the world of journalism, as it applies to social media; the news outlet that breaks a story is generally cited by those piling on later with their commentary, which leads to a downhill rolling snowball of publicity and coverage for the reporter and outlet. The tricky aspect, which we’ve all become more and more sensitive to, is whether in the rush to be first some of the details discussed end up being not entirely accurate, resulting in future retractions. Conversely, the most accurate reporting is rarely the fastest, but well after the news cycle, it becomes the secondary piece referenced by those researching a story.
It is at this point that one can add an addendum to first or accurate, and that is to be the best. Josh Stearns has an interesting selection process on his best lists of journalism by year, and if you read through any of them you’ll find a theme: these best pieces are exceptionally thorough and detail a level of knowledge on the subject matter that you very rarely find on the ‘breaking’ pieces, and are still a rarity on those that tend to win for accuracy.
Segue to Content Marketing
Those of you that know me know that I have a fairly long history throughout digital marketing that starts in hypercompetitive search and layered on content marketing as we moved up the value chain. I’m segueing to content marketing because there’s an interesting parallel to journalism, and then from there to influencer marketing (which is why you’re here of course).
In content marketing there’s the concept of the trifecta, which is outlined nicely by Tyler Hakes of Optimist. Distilled down to its basics, the trifecta is essentially looking at three types of content necessary for a winning strategy: evergreen content, social/viral content, and link-earning content.
Evergreen content — evergreen content answers a question, preferably when the answer doesn’t frequently change. While evergreen content is sometimes viewed as boring, it serves its purpose in satisfying search users. The journalistic analogy here is that of being the most factually accurate, used as a reference.
Why would I segue to content marketing like that? Well, many of you are bloggers, and in-between wanting to help you grow your social audiences, I’d love to see your blogs flourish as well. Additionally, the analogy of first, most accurate, and best carries into influencer success as well. Now that you have a good feel for how the three work, we can approach this as a how-to experiment.
Becoming the Fastest / Breaking Influencer
By staying on top of industry news and reading up on the various posts and books that come out of your niche, you increase the probability that you are not only one of the best informed influencer, but you also may be the one to break a story on a hot new product with the first review.
How can you stay on top of the news?
1. Google alerts. These are pretty simple to setup. You can setup an alert for literally any keyword combination: a person’s name, a brand name, an adjective, etc.
3. RSS feeds. If you’re in most modern blogs and forums for your niche, you can look for the RSS button and add that content to your Chrome or FireFox browser with ease. I find this to be quicker than using Google alerts, since there can sometimes be significant delays and also because private forums generally aren’t available to Google’s index.
4. Cision NA. Cision has a lot of uses in the PR world, but for today’s purpose you can use it in a similar to Google alerts but with more horsepower as Cision sees press releases as they come through the system and can parse them for the keywords that interest you most.
5. Twitter / Instagram hashtag stalking. If you’re stalking #keto you probably saw my fabulous video. No? Well, it was fun to do. Now, you could hashtag stalk via the alerts above, or you could do another fun thing by consuming feeds in Slack.
Becoming the Most Accurate Influencer
This is hard, but it all about depth and exploration. In order to become the most accurate influencer, you need to know how to perform research and ask the right questions. As you go down the arduous path of consistently researching your subjects beware of this pitfall shared by First Draft; if your goal is to be seen as the most accurate influencer, you must ensure that you never lose the trust of your audience because it will be exceptionally difficult to get it back.
Becoming the Best Influencer
This goes back to the quality > quantity post. In some ways I think it is also a function of combining some of the above elements. The best influencers in a niche are not just going to be accurate (but I think they absolutely should be since the FTC sees this as a form of advertising); they also need to be creating something that is sharable (see viral content above) and it needs to be timely (i.e. breaking news if possible). In other words, the best influencers by niche are unicorns; they are providing the breaking news product reviews, accurately, and in a fun way that encourages the review to spread. That’s certainly something to strive for. Do this and the competition doesn’t stand a chance.