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Influencers and content go together like champagne and potato chips. (Trust us on this.)

Content creators themselves, also commonly referred to as influencers, understand the value of content for audience connection and engagement. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that influencer and content marketing go hand-in-hand.

As content marketers, we are constantly assessing new trends and opportunities to reach our clients’ target audiences, and, increasingly, leveraging influencers and thought leaders has become a key part of that strategy.

It is imperative that we understand content from an influencer’s perspective; this helps us become great partners with influencers, in turn, allowing us to achieve our clients’ marketing goals. In order to fully grasp influencer content, we first need to ask ourselves some questions. How do influencers use content marketing techniques to build their communities? How are they expanding their brand and product footprint to grow those communities, engage advocates, and build interest among consumers?

Let’s take a look at a few influencer content trends happening now and how they can be leveraged to empower your influencers, whether you’re a brand or an agency:

Niche Down to Ramp Up

In a massive sea of blogs and brands creating content, bloggers have turned to “niching down” to stand out online. By honing in on a niche–think “vegan southern food blog” rather than just “food blog”–bloggers refine their content scope to increase the chances of their work being seen by relevant “in market” readers. This narrowing of focus helps define the audience, content strategy, and keyword strategy. It also provides readers a sense of consistency and positions the blogger as a thought leader in the space.

In part, the intent of doing this is to enhance SEO, which is highly important in the blogging world. Organic SEO is a primary focus of many bloggers as a sustainable traffic source that is not subject to one algorithm update. For example, if their traffic was too heavily reliant on Pinterest, an algorithm change could be detrimental to their bottom line.

“It Me”

Influencers are embracing authenticity. Recently there has been an extreme shift towards being more imperfect and real on social media. Employees of Instagram have even suggested that the new algorithm favors less filtered and staged content, as opposed to content that is curated, edited, and displays only a highlight reel of someone’s life.But, how does one stand out among so many highly curated feeds? It comes back to you. Blogger Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess took this theory for a test drive in her article “Has Instagram Come Full Circle,” finding that once she started posting more day to day life, rather than just beautiful photos, her engagement and community grew more than it had in years.

Platforms that are supporting and encouraging this shift to more authentic content:

  • Instagram Stories
  • IGTV
  • Podcasts – the search term how to start a podcast has risen steeply in the past year

Product Beyond the Content

Often an influencer’s content is the primary “product.” But, as influencers are turning their brands into businesses, they are identifying what scalable ancillary products they can offer the communities with which they have built great connections. Examples include:

  • Food bloggers offering online food photography courses
  • A fashion influencer offering styling sessions via Skype or FaceTime
  • A fitness influencer creating a digital workout plan or app

Loyalty

Loyalty programs aren’t limited to your favorite supermarket or froyo shop (10th one free!). Influencers have seen the importance of deepening their relationships with their most loyal fans.

  • Private Facebook groups for your brand’s most loyal followers
  • Offering special discounts or access for your followers
  • Hosting in-person meetups for most active fans
  • ‘Ask Me Anything’ Q&A opportunities
  • Real time surveys using tools like the Instagram Story poll feature

Why should we care about the trends within influencer content? These trends open up new opportunities to build relationships with relevant influencers and their audiences for any given brand or client. For example, is there an opportunity to introduce an influencer’s private Facebook group to a new product for their feedback?  The more we get to know them by their niches, podcasts, and live videos, the better we can match their content goals, stories, and beliefs to align with a client’s.

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