Conventional wisdom among marketers states that the more followers someone has, the more effective and efficient they are at persuading their followers to take action.
At one time, this was true, but things have changed. What matters today is talent.
Several important factors are driving this shift:
Audiences are Craving Authenticity
What was so appealing about influencers is that they seemed, to the consumer, to be independent advocates for a brand. When brands engaged with influencers, it felt as if they were driving word-of-mouth, the holy grail for all marketers. Again, this was true at one time, but consumers see past this. They crave authenticity, not another form of low-end celebrity endorsement.
The best brands today embrace a new kind of advocate: independent, professional content creators (writers, photographers, and filmmakers) with deep expertise in their field of passion and a distinct point-of-view.
These creators have published books, written for major publications, and apply the principles of good journalism. They have deep-seated and proven talent in the traditional definition of the word.
Creators with expertise outperform influencers with followers.
A Real-World Example
A financial services brand sought to publish content about the college experience to reach prospective college students and their parents. Through Props, they found three writers:
They all wrote real stories relevant to their expertise. They did not endorse the brand, they did not sell or promote the brand, and they did not make 'branded content' (advertising disguised as content.) Their stories were published on the brand’s blog and promoted by Props.
All of the creators performed well, but the headmaster outperformed them all. He had the most credible content, the most definitive point-of-view, and was the best writer. He had the lowest CPC, the highest relevancy score, the lowest bounce rate, and the highest time on site. Readers of his story on the brand’s blog converted into consumers at the highest rate.
If creators are prima ballerinas, what would that make influencers?