Peak Outreach: Don’t Bug Influencers – Follow Engagers
Over the years so called influencer marketing has become the new standard. A few years back it was already difficult to reach out to an influencer, after all such successful people were always busy.
These days with everybody and their aunt practicing influencer outreach it’s almost impossible to connect with real influencers. I don’t mean moderately successful people like myself. I mean the top dogs of the attention economy.
With flocks of people using tools like BuzzSumo etc. every marketing blog recommends it’s next to impossible to get attention from influencers.
Why? Influencers not only are busy as ever but now they have to deal with a flood of outreach messages that look more or less the same. Additionally
outreach has become a bit deplorable over the years
and sadly often resembles SPAM messages. How do I know? I get a lot of outreach messages for SEO 2.0 and because of my other – mostly dormant – blog. I also write about cycling in German but most of the time I don’t do it for lack of time or rather funding. Yet, basically every day I get PR messages of all kinds.
and others who are not my peers today anymore, because of their stellar success and huge following. Each one of them has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter alone. Even though they follow me back the attention economy is against me. They are by far too busy to listen to my grumpy tweets.
Peers vs influencers
Over the years I have been advising to band together with like-minded individuals and to focus your efforts on socializing with peers. In a way that’s the opposite of “influencer ass-kissing“. Yet with peers you also assume that there is some kind of hierarchy based on authority or popularity.
Peers are less influential than influencers and thus there is not already a huge group of people trying to get their attention.
This time I’d like to go a step further and get rid of this hierarchy altogether. Dump the influence metrics, be it the already controversial Klout score or whatever other tools like Topsy or the aforementioned BuzzSumo provide.
Instead of trying to use other people to get what you want try not to treat them as solely a means to an end.
Socialize with other people who actively socialize with you. I call them engagers. In fact in 2015 I radically changed my social media approach after realizing that neither high profile influencers nor low key lurkers will help me. Both won’t even respond most of time when I talk to them.
The only people that matter are those who listen and respond. All others are basically not even there.
Ever since I try to reorganize my whole social media experience by predominately looking up first and foremost what my engagers say and share instead of trying to follow larger than life experts or wasting time on trying to make lurkers respond to me.
How does that look actually? I have a prioritized stream for the few dozens of engagers I follow closely using a Twitter list or a Google+ circle.
The agony of organic reach
For many years it was enough to garner a large following on social media. You could depend on at least some of these people to see your updates and to spread the word about them. In recent years however fewer and fewer people will even see what you say or share.
In 2015 I focused on engagers because most social media sites have throttled organic reach in an algorithmic way.
You may have thousands of followers but they either won’t see your updates at all or they will ignore them because they get inundated with so many that they can’t focus on each and every one. They will rather check out their close friends’ messages than yours then.
I always preferred online friends who share the same interests and ideals with me.
Just because I have met someone in school does not mean I have the same favorites. Also I prefer to meet real life friends in person. In the worst case you ostracize someone by sharing the wrong political opinion or some thing else deemed controversial by them.
Engagers listen and react
I haven’t really made up the word engager myself. It exists on the Web it seems already. Yet the way I use the term might differ from the general population’s understanding of it. Let’s recapitulate then: engagers are those people who are
They listen to what you say and look up what you share. Then they like you based on the content you create or curate. You might have the wrong
- place of birth
- skin color
- political affiliations
or whatever but they agree with you on what shareable content is.
You may think such people do not even exist in real life let alone on the Web! Here are some examples of engagers (and their blogs) who have engaged with me and supported me recently:
I had no choice when I decided to write for a global audience. Living and working in Germany made me a bit of an outcast. I couldn’t just socialize with German people I know first hand. Also why would I limit myself to the German speaking population? I’m not even German. I have been born in Poland and I still can’t even take part in elections here after 30 years.
The German blogosphere is still small and often obnoxious. I remember a guy who was suffering from depression and who tried to set up the first Problogger-like blog in German. He got cyber-bullied by other German bloggers who attacked him so viciously he had to give up.
Ever since I fled the former dictatorship in Poland as a kid I haven’t been fond of traveling.
This is one of the reasons why I have been only once to the UK and the US and have no real life friends there left. The only way to socialize with native speakers then was to seek out like-minded individuals sharing the same values and interests.
I do not travel to conferences but I do socialize actively on the Web without significant automation. When I share I do it manually and respond to feedback or am thankful for actual engagement.
I may appear like the last of the Mohicans using this approach but not all users are influencers, lurkers or bots either.
They do not always have huge or even substantial follower numbers but they are there, they listen and they respond. In short they are supportive. Why would I bother influencers who everybody else is already bugging then?
* (CC BY 2.0) Creative Commons image by John McSporran