Do you recognise these social media influencers? (Courtesy of Economic Times India)
How do bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers and other social influencers use content to market themselves? Are there any useful lessons which we can learn?
Avid producers of social media content, influencers often deploy their skills in writing, photography, videography and design to grow an audience. Honing their talents over time, they know how to push the right content buttons to grow their fan base.
As a long-time judge for the Singapore Blog Awards, I’ve observed over the years that successful influencers are mindful of what they share on social media, stick to their “brand persona”, and are obsessive-compulsive about creating and sharing quality content (check out my post on the Six Qualities of Successful Bloggers).
Influencers as Content Innovators
The first thing you need to know about social influencers is that they are usually at the forefront of consumer fashion, tastes and trends. As innovators and early adopters, they act as information hubs and connectors, filtering and facilitating the spread of content amongst their communities.
As creators and curators of online information, social influencers exert their influence through soft power (as opposed to the hard power seen in traditional organisational hierarchies). They help ideas, brands and products to “cross the chasm” by moving it beyond the tipping point.
To visualise how this works, have a look at the augmented diffusion of innovation graph below (you can read more about how the multiple theories of innovation and influence converge here).
Original chart courtesy of Innovate or Die
8 Ways Influencers Use Content
From my analysis, I’ve noticed that the type of content which social influencers create, curate and share fall into eight categories. To help you remember these content types more easily, I’ve labelled each with the letter “E”.
Before I describe them, note that this list is not exhaustive. Neither are the categories exclusive. On the contrary, social influencers often mix and match their content types to see what works better or just inject some fun and spontaneity into their lives.
Let us begin with the first E…
#1 Emerging News Content
Keeping their fingers on the pulse of what’s popular and newsworthy, influencers often surf the wave of trending topics. At the forefront of emerging news, they either share what’s hot and happening with their fans and followers, or publish newsjacking content which rides on breaking news.
An example of a influencer who do so is Bertha Henson with her blog Bertha Harian which later evolved into The Middle Ground – a full-fledged local news portal. Focusing on current Singapore news and talking points, she wields a wicked pen and writes with great wit and candour.
Who says you need pretty pictures to be an influencer (courtesy of Bertha Harian)
#2 Exquisite/Enticing Content
We love to consume visual content, and nothing beats a well taken photograph or video. Here, many of the leading food bloggers reign supreme, with their painstakingly taken photographs, mouthwatering prose, and enchanting descriptions.
Two times winner of the Singapore Blog Awards for Food, my friend Tony Johor Kaki is a leading stalwart of exquisite content. Just look at the photographs he takes of seemingly ordinary hawker fare transforming the ordinary to the sublime (example below).
Only Tony can make a Soto Ayam look this yummy (courtesy of Tony Johor Kaki)
#3 Enlisting Content
Social influencers know that there is strength in numbers. They know the importance of helping each other out, and in giving one another a shout out every now and then. This can take the form of sharing each other’s posts, or featuring each other’s work on their own content.
A popular way to do so is via lists and ranking of bloggers. My pal Alvin of Alvinology.com is a master of the art of “most popular” blog posts. An example of such a post is this ranking of the top bloggers in Singapore by Calixto Tay.
Courtesy of Alvinology.com
#4 Educational Content
As thought leaders and taste makers, social influencers are often subject matter experts. With their in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge of certain disciplines, they have a wealth of experience and perspectives to share with their readers and followers.
John Low, founder of EduMatters, belongs to such a category of influencer. Focusing on parenting, education, and family life, EduMatters is an invaluable online resource for parents of school going kids like me.
Can you solve this primary 6 math problem? (courtesy of EduMatters)
#5 Entertaining Content
In an attention-starved world overflowing with videos, photos, and text, digital Darwinism applies. Only the fittest – and often funniest – would survive. I guess this is why many of the most popular bloggers and YouTubers are also the greatest comedians.
A purveyor of all things teasing, taunting and titillating, Smith Leong writes about the things that your mother warned you about. His most memorable post was probably that of his pre-wedding photo shoot at an NTUC Fair Price supermarket.
Coffee, Maggi Mee or Me? (courtesy of Smithankyou.com)
#6 Encouraging Content
In this crazy and hectic world, we all need a sanctuary. A voice of reason, of clarity, and of inspiration. This is a role which influencers can play as they filter through motivational sayings, share life lessons, and encourage others.
Without a doubt, my good friend Lucian Teo pens down some of the most persuasive and inspiring prose this side of the social web. His blog Tribolum.com is filled with content that makes you think and ponder over the larger issues in life.
Look out for Lucian’s love notes to his wife Faith – they are absolutely riveting! (courtesy of Tribolum.com)
#7 Explosive Content
While I’d have loved to write about all things sugary and nice, the truth is that influence can also be achieved through notoriety. We humans simply love to consume controversial content. This is why gossipy and outrageous stuff can go viral all the time.
There are numerous purveyors of inflammatory content online. The one which I follow most regularly is Mothership.SG. While they do use a fair amount of link baiting (don’t we all), their content is what I would term “controversy with class”.
Are you stunned like vegetable by the title of the article? (courtesy of Mothership.sg)
#8 Escapist Content
Who wouldn’t love a life of exotic adventure, far away from the ho-hum-ness of everyday life? In fact, escaping from the monotony of the daily grind is a reason why we love to read, view or listen to content online. Once again, social media influencers hold court here, allowing us to live vicariously through their camera lenses.
Darren Ng of Explore Life Lah! is an exemplar of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. He takes amazing travel photos and is willing to contort his body to assume all kinds of wacky poses to bring his adventures to life.
Darren Ng striking a pose (courtesy of Explore Life Lah!)
What other forms of content do social media influencers use? Also, let me know if you disagree with these strategies/tactics and why! 🙂