The days where only Google handled just about everything with SEO and text excerpts from your latest content are dead. As if spending four hours on your phone everyday wasn’t already enough, we can thank Covid for pushing the agenda on where and who we put our attention and trust into. I would’ve once said Facebook would never be taken seriously for prospecting, nor would your prospects be interested in a pitch when they’re simply looking for a serotonin fix at the end of a long day. Lucky for me, I made no bets. Social Media has cornered how we buy into a monopolized marketing paradigm where moving images held in your hand alongside others’ experiences make you feel better about making a decision with your wallet- and you’re not going away from that model anytime soon. With the introduction of things like TikTok, 5G and the latest chipsets in all things wireless, video influencing is slowly sidelining the corporate mottos and mantras in favor of a hip personality with a textbook understanding of how to use a face filter.
This makes perfect sense, since it’s more natural to accept the verdict from a talking head than a five-word elevator that leaves no trace of perceived credibility or value in its wake. Quick peaks at things like follower count(credibility), their last ten posted images(interests) and comment flow(topic relevance) and most people will entertain said conclusions of that individual. So to jump on this moving frontier that’s already left the station, where do we start?
You’re already late to the party.
The inventor of the Speakerphone once told me (yes, he’s a personal friend of mine) that when you think of a viable idea, at least ten others just thought of the same thing and one of those ten are already advancing on it. Snap! Not to hail on your picnic, but you being the original in taking the first initiative is about as realistic as winning the lottery on Pluto. It takes time to brew up a slew of channels and content that ultimately may- or may not -generate enough traction to build a loyal audience. And then you have to put in the time to keep that momentum going. Nothing is worse than experiencing a chicken-or-egg paradox when you embark on a new venture just to be situated on the obsolete end of the spectrum once it’s ready for three years ago. This begs the question of how much time it takes to generate that momentum while it’s still in demand. Fret not, because there’s this thing called first impressions and the novelty they carry is the parachute that prevents you from a fatal plunge into irrelevance- so long as you know how to deploy it on time.
Becoming an influencer means bringing to the table value for your audience while putting your own spin on how it’s delivered. You’ll be judged on the accuracy of your material, personality, frequency of posts and how you relate to the viewer as a person. It’s human nature for us to want to associate with others like ourselves. Then, we indirectly seek acceptance in one form or another from each other. When you step into the limelight, the crowd is curious and willing but is already losing patience at the same time. Being a new face on someone’s Instagram, you’re in a good position to outdo your competitors with the proper impression, so long as it’s perceived as being unique by your audience. This being said, it goes without saying that before you even remotely think about turning on the front camera with an extended arm, you’d better know everyone you’re up against. Social influencers are light in some markets, saturated in others. You’ll be hardpressed to prerecord a bunch of content with prewritten posts and disburse it in intervals just to learn someone else has already done the same and better. Use the novelty of a first impression to cater to your initial followers and pay close attention to immediate responses. This is a trust builder and too many influencers tend to skip it at inception. Trust-building triggers survival responses in the brain and means your word is more likely to be perceived as reality. Master the art behind this psychology of making a first impression and you’ll be one step closer to leaving the runway with enough speed to stay off the ground.
Amateur is appealing.
Look at advertisements from the 50’s and 60’s. You’ll notice how drastically different the script etiquette and delivery were back then. Social standards change over time, and the “professional effects” dynamic is slowly dying. Why? It’s become perceived as dishonest. When someone sees a smooth-talking suit shot with an accredited camera crew explaining the advantages of their business practices inside a spotless lobby you’ll never see, it creates distance between the audience and ad. This worked in the 90’s because people aspired to jump the gap to higher ground thanks to the lack of any and all information available to them in seconds. The internet as the world knows it has compromised this model because we have just that- information overload on demand from almost anywhere in one hand in seconds. Saturated knowledge has driven much of the planet to numbness in 2021, especially with so much conjecture sprinkled on every other news link. These days, people feel they can relate better to another “normal” human being like themselves rather than the high-budgeted proposition of a polished conglomerate selling car insurance “savings”. Amateur video is perceived as more transparent when you intentionally shelve the fancy illusions and marketing bling in favor of your apartment’s Ikea backdrop and slightly shaky cinematography. You’re displaying that of an average– just like them. When you stop trying so hard to tell everyone everything they want to hear, that’s when they start to listen. And they’ll continue to do so if your reasoning and persona coincide with theirs.
Free from excuses.
An IMAX camera body(without electronics, accessories, software, additional hardware or lenses) fetches a cool $150,000. And that’s still for a useless brick in that state. Modern cameras, including those found on your phone, have come quite a long way. With things like 12-megapixel photos and 4k video recording with binaural audio available in your palm, you really have zero excuses whatsoever not to try the cheapest form of self-managed marketing possible. For a little of your own time and next to no initial investment, you can actually keep an audience interested and wanting more while driving a profit. Personally, I’ve always hated the idea of filming myself until I tried it. Then, I realized how effective it was at connecting with my audience. It’s actually a great way to communicate and express my position on a given topic. Text is good for quick points in a post. Pictures are great for stamping memories into the heads that follow. Video, however, allows you to connect with the emotional drive of your audience. In 2021, there are 15 billion operating mobile devices and organic exposure comes more easily these days with video than any other advertising method. So if not for the previous points, you literally have no reason not to -literally- try your hand at becoming a social influencer.
Being a social influencer can take time to develop and will likely require a few pivots but ultimately means followers, exposure and reputation can be built for next to nothing. The time will pass anyway, so there’s really no reason not to open your phone and with a little YouTube help, get on stage and give the world the value you possess in your craft. You’ll never know if you don’t try!
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