This is certainly an interesting era for brands. There is talk of “Makers”, “Prosumers” (producers who are also consumers), and of course “Influencers.” It’s all part of a massive growth in user generated content (UGC).
How does this affect brands?
This isn’t a new trend. Some of these Influencers have been at it for almost a decade, starting with the early bloggers. Let’s look at each of these groups and the impact for brands.
“Prosumers” are a growing population of users who create content and also fall into the consumer category. You can refer to them as Consumers, or Prosumers, or Loyalists. Examples abound from the people who add reviews on Amazon to those who fill up our feeds on Facebook.
While their following may be small, they have high engagement and trust within their circle of friends and followers.
While most people enjoy using Facebook to scroll and consume content others create, these Prosumers are actively expressing their POV (point of view). This can have an influential effect on those who read their content.
Of course, Prosumers enjoy being an authority and a go-to resource, but they have not gotten to the point of professional Influencers.
Brands need to recognize who these Prosumers are, engage them, and collaborate with them to help with brand perception, differentiation, and loyalty. At a minimum, brands should enable them by providing shareable content and a platform for them to express their views. You can learn a lot from their feedback and the feedback they may inspire from others.
Influencers are becoming a critical audience for a brand. This is a group that needs to be engaged, and brands should be actively looking to collaborate with a number of, and a mix of, Influencers. Most brands may not have the means to get celebrity endorsements, so there are a number of Influencers, and levels of Influencers they can engage.
Top-tier Influencers and those we typically just think of as ‘Influencers’ have a large following. Typically at least 200,000 followers on their primary platform. The next level of ‘mid-tier’ Influencers (for lack of a better term) are in the 50,000 – 200,000 follower category. Then you have micro-Influencers – more of the up and coming Influencers that tend to be in the 1,000 – 10,000 follower range. All of them share the common attribute of making a major component of their living from engaging with brands within a certain category. Most are specialized and in a niche. As you go up from micro-Influencer to traditional Influencer, the main difference is the rate you would pay as a brand to engage them and the sophistication, as well as the parameters to work within. Since this group is working for your brand, the FCC also requires appropriate disclosure in their endorsements.
Joe Wicks, for example, has 1.8M Instagram followers and ranks in the Top 10 Fitness Influencers.
Joe’s Instagram site: https://www.instagram.com/thebodycoach/
While a brand can start with Prosumers – the marketing team at your company needs to have a very deliberate plan for working with Influencers. The importance of testimonials and third party credibility is crucial, especially in distinguishing your brand. With so many companies offering similar products and the barriers-to-entry falling in almost every category, a trustworthy brand is certainly one of the top distinctions you can leverage. You can build reliability by gaining the trust of Influencers.
The category of Makers is probably the farthest afield from what I’ve been looking at, following, and reading. However, this is a group that really helps us see where society is headed, and our culture. Essentially, anyone is a Maker. Casey Neistat, a YouTube star, summarizes it best in this Samsung spot.
You can also read more about it in this AdWeek article.
Essentially, we are seeing a demographic where anyone can be a singer, a producer, a film maker. The barriers to creation and broadcasting are gone and the quality of production is not important to much of this audience. In fact, a polished ad would turn this millennial audience away.
As a brand, you’ll want to monitor what these makers are producing and saying about your brand. They may turn into Prosumers or into Influencers.