Getting ahead in the age of distraction
In today’s connected world, anyone can become a media entity, an influencer. All you need is to engage an audience on a particular topic via a blog, YouTube channel or LinkedIn group. Some of Text100’s most inspiring work is done in partnership with these non-traditional influencers.
For example, Regina Holliday is the founder of The Walking Gallery, a movement to improve patient rights in the healthcare industry. We teamed up with her in February 2017 when she painted live from the Conduent Health booth at HIMSS.
I spoke with both about how they view their role in today’s era of brand communications and storytelling, and I learned a few things along the way.
Influencers don’t set out to become influencers
While there are (too many) online articles with tips and guides to becoming an influencer, the ones who have built large, engaged audiences didn’t always plan for it to happen that way.
Take Holliday, for example. She only became a participatory medicine advocate after her late husband struggled to receive appropriate care during 11 weeks of treatment in five different hospitals. Moran, on the other hand, spent more than 20 years publishing magazines and newspapers targeted towards business owners, including The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine.
Beware of anyone claiming to be an expert on something they haven’t lived through
Moran calls these people “shingle hangers.” “They create a blog, publish their thoughts, and are suddenly a ninja, expert or influencer,” said Moran. Proper research and planning, of course, helps a brand see past the hype to identify influencers who have real expertise and authority.
Relationships are at the core
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are influencer relations campaigns. The best and most mutually beneficial relationships are built over time with mutual respect at the centre, rather than just a transaction.
Holliday explained, “I bring paints and mess into your space – into your beautiful, pristine space – and you still invite me in! That’s what partnership is – equally shared space where we respect and believe in each other.”
Moran agrees. “There has to be good chemistry between a client and my company,” he said. “Genuine, authentic and sincere are the three key words that we strive to make a part of every relationship.”
Round pegs still don’t fit into square holes
Campaigns are only effective when brand and influencer share the same values. Audiences can see the lack of authenticity in a relationship from a mile away.
According to Moran, he declines a significant number of opportunities offered to him. “I want to make sure we can realistically help the client achieve their objectives. If we can’t, then I don’t want to set us all up for disappointment.”
Similarly, Holliday is aware that as a voice advocating for change in the healthcare industry, it takes a brand with the right type of ethos to partner with her. “It’s a brave thing,” she says. “We say things sometimes that are a little bit terrifying if you are a part of the status quo of the industry.”
Two things are certain
- There are more unique, creative approaches to brand storytelling today than ever before
- Developing sustainable partnerships with the right influencer can have a powerful impact with the right audience.