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6 tips for working with online influencers in 2017

This weekend, we sent our content & social media manager off to the big smoke to attend Traverse, an annual, global gathering of digital influencers, open to everyone from brand new bloggers to the Instagram-famous, as well as PRs, brands and digital marketers.

We first heard about Traverse when it was held in Cardiff in 2016 and sponsored by Visit Wales, but this year, the conference moved to London for a whole week of networking events, masterclasses and talks from influencers and digital nomads from all over the world.Whilst the weekday events are all about networking and making connections, the weekend focuses firmly on back to back talks covering everything from video editing, going live on social media, and SEO; to sessions on growing Instagram followers, improving photography skills and getting to grips with VR.

After spending 48 hours in London at #Traverse17, we’ve pulled together these top tips and insights on working with influencers in 2017 and beyond:

#1 Numbers aren’t everything

Lots of the bloggers and brands we spoke to at Traverse expressed frustration with the industry’s obsession with numbers. In other words, just because an influencer has the highest number of followers, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be the best fit for your campaign. Investigate who the followers are, and how engaged they are with the content an influencer is creating. Even if a blogger or vlogger has a relatively small audience, if the demographic of their followers matches up with the people you are trying to reach, you might be better off creating meaningful engagement with their smaller audience, rather than lots of likes but no real connection.

#2 Numbers can also be misleading

The issue of fake followers was another hot topic at Traverse. These days, it’s relatively quick – and cheap – for wannabe influencers to purchase fake followers on Twitter or Instagram so it pays to be smart when considering who to work with for your campaigns.  How to spot a faker? If a social media account has an impressive number of followers, but gets a very small number of likes and no comments, the alarm bells should start ringing. You can also check up to three Twitter accounts for free using this website: https://fakers.statuspeople.com.

#3 Real influence comes at a cost

Bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers are all waking up to the fact that their content has value for brands and businesses looking to connect with their audiences. Those with a real, engaged following are likely to begin charging a fee for creating content for brands, if they haven’t already started doing so. Whilst this might come as unwelcome news for some, what it does offer is the chance for brands and PRs to work more closely with influencers, be a bit more demanding, and deliver more meaningful results for their campaigns.

#4 Results matter

As more social media influencers start to charge for creating content, the flip side is that they will now need to be more accountable to the brands who commission them. The analytical tools available within Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can provide a wealth of information about how well content is performing, meaning brands can now ask for detailed data to track how successful a partnership really is. Agreeing KPIs at the beginning of a brand campaign is one way to ensure that both parties get what they want from a partnership.

#5 Authenticity is still key 

As the lines between between sponsored and organic content continue to blur, authenticity will become even more important. The most successful campaigns will be forged when brands let influencers lead on creating content which fits in with their own personal style, allowing it to blend in seamlessly. Readers and followers are becoming more and more savvy when it comes to spotting sponsored content, and influencers will risk losing their audience if they post obvious and clunky sponsored posts too often.

#6 Transparency is a hot topic 

Despite all of this paid-for content flying around, there is still lot of confusion about how influencers need to highlight the posts and updates they have been paid for. The advice from the experts at Traverse however, was very clear; on every social media post, and in every piece of content that is created for a fee, influencers should make it clear to their followers that was the case. Whether we start to notice this in practice more often over the next few months remains to be seen.

And finally… Snapchat is pretty much over

Though not directly related to working with influencers, it was still interesting to note that the general opinion at Traverse was that Snapchat is on the way out. In the 26 weeks since Instagram stories was launched, it has amassed the same amount of users as Snapchat (which took them over 5 years to build), and now looks to surpass it as the main ‘story’ platform. For the Snapchatters at Traverse who have built a strong following on the platform, this was a bitter pill to swallow, but the general advice over the weekend was that unless your brand is already on Snapchat and doing well, it’s probably best not to bother. It will be interesting to see whether these predictions come true over the coming months.