A Modest Digital Marketing Proposal

A Modest Digital Marketing Proposal

- in Online Marketing

Look how happy you’ll be after trying out this fun new strategy. Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

If you are a business owner, you have my sincere condolences. Brands looking for attention today find themselves in an awfully pitiable position.

Content marketing certainly had its glory days, but I think we can all agree that nobody has the time to read anymore. And those who do are so flooded by clickbait listicles and riveting Trump news that your corporate content doesn’t stand a chance.

Sure, consumers are increasingly using social media but businesses can’t even get access to them anymore. Facebook’s organic reach continues to decline, and both Twitter and Instagram changed their algorithms to rank posts by relevancy rather than chronology.

And don’t even get me started on digital advertising. Ad blockers are all the rage, and those who don’t use them suffer from ‘banner blindness’ anyway, which means they’re rendered useless.

Influencers seem like a good workaround until you realize how darn expensive they are, and even micro-influencers can break the bank once they realize how desperate businesses are for attention.

I therefore humbly submit my modest proposal: shun all other digital strategies and focus exclusively on nano-influencers.

Allow me to explain.

The biggest social media influencers get paid the big bucks because they have the biggest followings, right? Businesses shell out to have these social media celebs showcase their products to an enormous audience. It’s the 21st century advertising model.

Micro-influencers work much the same way, but businesses pay far less money per profile because the audience size is much smaller. Instead of advertising to millions of people, businesses pay micro-influencers to get their content in front of thousands, and make up the size difference by launching multiple campaigns. Some businesses even prefer these micro-influencer relationships because their audiences are typically more trusting and engaged than their celebrity counterparts.

Enter the nano-influencer.

A nano-influencer is someone with a follower base of mostly friends and family, or sometimes no followers at all! In fact, nano-influencers often have such an infinitesimally small amount of influence online that it doesn’t even look like they’re influencing anyone!

Don’t be fooled though. Examine the nano-influencer scheme under the microscope and you’ll see it’s a far weightier strategy than it initially seems.

Consider this: there are currently 330 million monthly active users on Twitter, 800 million on Instagram, and 2.2 billion on Facebook.

About 3% of the accounts are businesses, so let’s strip those out. Let’s assume 10% of all active social media accounts are bots, and let’s also remove the top 10-20% with the biggest follower counts.

That still leaves us with over 2 billion active accounts.

Who are these people? They’re the nano-influencers of the world. Their activity may be minimal or nonexistent, and they may only have a handful of followers, but their engagement level is through the roof!

Just take my grandma for example. I showed her how to post on Instagram, but she prefers to primarily use the platform to follow her grandchildren. And yet, she has 200 followers thanks to Instagram alerting all her Facebook friends when she opened her account.

She barely posts at all, but when she does she enjoys a 30% engagement rate from those 200 followers. That puts typical influencer engagement rates of 1.7% to shame. Go grandma!

Or take, for example, the 44% of Twitter users who read news and scroll around but never send a single tweet. For these kinds of social media users with virgin feeds, imagine how much impact a new post would have! You can’t duplicate the impact of that first tweet — imagine the surprise factor for their audience! The novelty!

So how would this work? Rather than paying one influencer thousands of dollars — or a few micro-influencers hundreds — simply give away your product for free to thousands of nano-influencers in exchange for their sharing it on social media.

So what if you have no product or money left? You have to give up something in exchange for attention, and I think we can all agree this is a fair trade. The return on investment is crystal clear.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How would a business know which nano-influencers are right for them?

Since nano-influencers barely post about anything (and sometimes not at all), there’s no problem being pigeonholed into a certain niche or industry. They can post about anything at all and it will still be in line with their brand. Plus that’s part of the fun — it’s a complete surprise for their followers! When grandma shares your new accounting software, how could her followers be anything but delighted?

I have no other motive here than to charitably help out hard-working business owners by offering an obvious solution to an invasive problem. Sadly, I already qualify as a micro-influencer and so I will miss out on the spoils of this symbiotic and profitable arrangement.

Ryan Erskine is Manager of Client Services at BrandYourself. Visit his website, follow him on Twitter, and read his book here.

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