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The Future of Influence — Everything has changed, but nothing has changed

Posted by Chris King on 20th June 2017

Last week I was lucky enough to attend’s “The Future of Influence” conference, which attempted to explore many key themes including: the influence of YouTubers and bloggers; the future of journalism; opportunities for brands; influencer mapping; influence tracking; global influence; and the role of content.

Here are a few of my key takeaways:

  • I found it interesting that Barclays Global Head of Corporate Comms revealed that his team now has significantly more people in it whose job is dedicated to content production compared to those doing media relations. Quite a reversal in the dynamics of house teams.
  • There’s a big trend towards micro-influencers (particularly on Instagram). Unlike celebrities and traditional high profile influencers, micro-influencers have far more modest numbers of followers — typically in the thousands — but they boast hyper-targeted and engaged audiences.
  • The rule of thumb is that as an influencer’s number of followers increases, their number of likes and comments from followers decreases, so while a high-profile influencer might have millions of followers it’s actually the engagement rate of their community that really matters, much more than the size of it. The theory is that engaging with say, 50 fashion micro-influencers with 1,000 followers a piece would actually deliver a better conversion than partnering with the Kardashian’s and their huge pool of followers.
    Obviously, accessing micro-influencers is also more affordable and their content tends to have more authenticity.
  • We learned from Traackr’s research that 71% of brand marketers rate influencer marketing as a strategic or highly strategic practice but 43% are still in experimental stages. Limited resources and ROI data (scalability) are the main challenge brands are facing.

But probably the most interesting session of the day was Chris Talago from Oracle’s talk on the B2B influencer journey which echoed with a lot of my own views on the subject.

For example, Chris outlined his principles of good content:

1) Clarity — talk about what you know rather than what you sell and remember that clarity is in the eye of the beholder, so you need to continually check back with your target audience on whether your content gives them what they want to hear

2) Brevity — avoid making the reader have to scroll – 20% won’t. Only 25% will make it to the end

3) Simplicity — avoid making the reader have to think

He also recommended that brands make less content… but focus on quality and doing more with it — something that Wildfire has long advocated. With high bounce rates you’ve got to make more of what you’ve got and find clever ways to repurpose and repeat, repeat, repeat.

Other soundbites that resonated with me included:

Paid isn’t an optional extra… it’s crucial to getting your content in front of the right audience.

Content has to be keyword informed. It’s amazing how many writers do keyword research at the outset but then don’t check back to keywords during the editing process. 

If you want to drive true integrated comms it’s the leaders that have to do it – it won’t happen from the bottom up.

He concluded his session with an interesting perspective on the industry at the moment. He criticised, what he called, Acute Agency Personality Disorder — a tendency for agencies to claim “We do everything”. As a buyer of PR agency services he wants agencies to focus on what they do and do it well. He also flags the dangers of, what he refers to as, myopic in-house insularity towards influencer marketing.

There were lots more good discussions and questions during the conference but ultimately the overriding conclusion seemed to be that whilst everything has changed so much over the last 5-10 years (and still is changing), fundamentally, beyond the channels we use, nothing has really changed at all. PR’s core disciplines of targeting, creating and placing quality content and building relationships with influencers are still as key today as they ever have been…. so there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet!

Photo credit.

Chris King

Chris’s extensive experience of agency PR, ‘can-do’ attitude and track record for achieving outstanding results time after time make him a firm favourite amongst clients. His natural teaching skills make him an expert mentor and respected MD.