It's never been a better time to be a social media influencer. The American economy has been strong for years, and now influencers have reaped the rewards. Organically reaching social media users through their favorite celebrities can be far more effective than a standard ad. With so many loyal fans, even someone with a mere few thousand followers can start making connections with businesses looking to promote their goods and services. This has led to a whole industry of new influencers who rely on social media platforms and business connections to maintain their influence. But what happens when the economy turns, and companies become less willing to shell out money for a few Instagram posts? What happens when your primary social media site shuts down?
Think it can't happen? Vine was the hottest site around for months and years, raising up a whole new community of creators and influencers. Now, the app is dead, and only the cream of the crop were able to read the tea leaves and transition their content and following to YouTube and Instagram. So how can influencers insulate themselves against the volatility of social media platforms? How can brands make sure their social success doesn't pigeon-hole themselves into flavor-of-the-week status with no longevity?
1) Inbound Helps Control Your Reach
Much like many B2B marketers think social media is just for fun and e-commerce, many social media influencers and brands think that inbound marketing is just for dry B2B businesses looking to work leads through the sales funnel (bored yet?). What inbound marketing through your own website gives you is total control over how your reach your fans. You host and post your content, you develop and curate your email list, and you can deliver your messaging directly to fans. Email marketing has been a mainstay for nearly 20 years, but when you understand your fans and know how to deliver valuable content, it can still be extremely effective.
2) Learn Why They Love You
I've seen so many influencers sell out overnight, and reduce their once entertaining or inspiring feed to promotional posts, one after another. I've seen brands who catch fire with a great tweet or ad campaign and then can't convert that success into lasting value. Both of these issues stem from a basic misunderstanding of how your fans think about and interact with you.
Relying solely on social media sites to gauge results and engage with users misses out on the opportunity to dig in deeper and see more about where people spend their time and what they want from your content. A website powered by inbound marketing gives you the analytics that pure social media can't provide and gives you the insight necessary to understand why your fans are your fans, beyond the likes and RTs.
3) You Can Promote Yourself Better
Moving to inbound and email marketing doesn't remove you from the excitement and pace of social media, it gives you the opportunity to cut through the noise and deliver your best content directly to the people. The evolution of influencers isn't endless promoted posts on Instagram, it's being able to launch your own initiatives that you control. My friend Sazan Hendrix did it with Bless Box, and many others have created similar opportunities to give themselves more leverage and creative control outside of just promoting something for a brand.
4) Inbound Helps Decentralize Your Brand
As people who were Vine famous quickly learned, you can't put all your eggs in one basket. You also can't copy/paste those same eggs into every other basket. Being a successful brand online means being able to create value tailored to the format and audience of each social media platform. Using inbound to centralize your online presence around your own site helps you cross-pollinate that content and help people who see your Instagrams also follow you on Facebook, and get them to join your email list where you send them the best of everything. Don't leave your success in the hands of a single social media site who could change their algorithms and damage your reach.
Ask anyone in the industry, and it's clear that it's never been a better time to be an influencer or brand on social media. But ask those same people, and they will preach about how important it is to control your own reach and cast a wide net. Inbound marketing gives companies and influencers alike the tools they need to build their web presence around a central hub, learn more about their fans through analytics, and deliver great content on their own terms. Don't become another cautionary tale like those Vine stars.