Understand your audience: Engagement is the core of your social channel

GADDR asked industry leaders for their take on social media trends and the problem that Gaddr is solving – unifying creators’ own digital identity in one place to be easier found and followed across all channels. This article is part of the Social Media Trends series focusing on expert opinions of social media industry leaders and professionals within influencer marketing. 

CollectivEdge is an influencer marketing platform matching up bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers with relevant brands to review products, enter competitions and monetise their platform. We spoke to Alexei Lee, Head of Social Media and PR, about social influence, blogger engagement and digital marketing.

How do you help creators develop their social media and follower base and presence?

Because our influencers opt in, we try to give them value in terms of content; we regularly write blog articles, we do a lot of things on social media and we send out a monthly newsletter with how-to guides and the latest laws and Google updates that influencers need to know about. We aim to help them follow best practices, and provide a stream of educational content to our members.

How do you see social media influencers change the globally connected culture? Do you work with global creators or locally with British creators?

Because we are based in the UK, many of our brands are naturally located here as well and we run UK campaigns on a regular basis. But our network includes influencers from all over the globe, for instance we’ve run several campaigns in the US.

What trends do you see in social media emerging globally within 10 years?

10 years is such a long time in social media, I don’t think anyone could predict what will happen that far into future! But social media is already moving quickly towards visual content as the primary way to engage – photographic and video – especially with influencers. I see this trend continuing over the next couple of years and technology like visual search helping to fuel this.

The exclusiveness of being an influencer is also changing. Anyone now has the potential to be an influencer because the barriers to becoming one are disappearing. You don’t need celebrity status or external marketing to become an influencer these days. Social has made it very easy for people to grow a community and an engaged audience, as long as they have something interesting to say. This means we’re moving quickly towards a model of micro-influencers. 

Brands and businesses are adapting to this new reality; they no longer necessarily need to work with a very big influencer to get the awareness and engagement they are looking for. Working with a broad base with smaller influencers rather than focusing on famous people is often a better tactic for generating targeted reach and engagement. Micro-influencers may have a small network of followers, but having an engaged community is much more valuable. This trend will continue to emerge over the next few years.

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Something else we’ve seen gain pace – and we ran an event recently in London around this topic – is influencers becoming more commercialised and aware of the value they represent to brands. It’s much more standard practice these days for brands to pay influencers to create content or sponsor existing content, rather than solely relying on a PR approach. Sponsored content is a massive growth area for new and emerging influencers to take note of. Once you build that community you want to work out a way to monetise it, and you have a lot of possibilities.

And what would you say about Social Media Week?

Social Media Week is a global event, hosting Social Media Week in key major cities across the globe. London hosts SMW in the UK. This year the event organisers have expanded the proposition and launched SMWi across smaller cities within each country. Bristol will be the first city in the UK to host SMWi.

We are running a panel for SMWi Bristol which is like the event we ran in London, focusing on trends and best practises concerning native advertising and influencer marketing. Our panel will include one of our bloggers and a representative of IAB, the organisation responsible for developing and promoting best practice amongst advertisers.

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Do you have a few examples of influencers in mind that show a unique way of growing their follower base?

I’d like to emphasise that I don’t believe influence is about the size of your community, but how engaged they are with you. I think you can have a community of just 2000 followers and still gain a lot of targeted reach through social sharing if you’re publishing what they want to read, and you engage with them in the right way.

I’d say don’t focus too much on growing your follower base exponentially as you’ll probably end up growing your audience with followers who won’t be reading your posts on a regular basis. It’s more about quality than quantity.

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How do you see creators to be facing the problem to convert their fans across different social channels?

People generally have one or two preferred social platforms they use on a regular basis, because they want to use it for a specific purpose or like the way that platform works. For instance, there’s quite a bit of a crossover between Instagram and Twitter because the audience likes the user experience and it suits their lifestyle and online habits. It would be quite easy to cross-pollinate between these two networks. But to get your Twitter followers to engage with you on Facebook, that’s a much bigger challenge. Facebook is a different experience and therefore in general has an audience distinct from Twitter, who use it in a different way.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about why they are engaging with you across different platforms, whether that is transferable to a different platform, and whether you actually need to transfer them. Perhaps have a different strategy for the followers across each platform you are active on, based on what you want to get out of that platform. You are unlikely to have the same people following you across all your profiles, you’re more likely to have people who like you on Facebook because they want to engage with you there but a separate audience on Instagram.

What is your recommendation if you are for example a vlogger, and your core content is on YouTube, but you also want your fans to join your Instagram or Twitter?

You must look at it on a case-to-case basis. If one individual is following you on Instagram and you’re asking that person to go and view your content on Facebook or YouTube, they’re unlikely to do that because they prefer to engage with you on Instagram, and that’s why they are there. I think they key is creating adapted versions of your core content (in this case a vlog) so that it suits how your audience likes to engage across each network.

At the same time, is it a challenge for creators to make all the content easily available?

Yes, you need to tailor the content you’re producing as a creator for each specific channel. Using the vlogger example, your core content is going to be vlogs on YouTube and that’s going to be a very different video format to the kind of video you’ll be publishing on Instagram. The Instagram video will be seen by your Instagram followers as unique content in its own right, but could also serve to promote the original YouTube video. However, the problem with Instagram is that you can’t link back to the original content on YouTube unless you’re running ads or put the link in your bio.

If we’re using Instagram as an example, something that works is a very short, few-second video playing around with a panoramic or looping feature, something that is visually engaging. This means thinking about what content you can create that utilises that kind of feature in the best way!

Gaddr is part of the solution to connecting all social media in one place. Establishing the platform that helps to unify digital identity of social media creators, we let followers access all creators’ content in one place and add them on all their channels within a few seconds.

Learn more about CollectivEdge here and comment below with examples of how you engage your social community!

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