Brands, Blogs, Influence and New Media Expo

I’m kicking off the new year with something a little different. For the first time, I’m attending the New Media Expo (known best as Blogworld). The conference is focused on people who create content online and giving them a chance to learn how to get better at it and meet all kinds of brands that may have helpful tools.

There was a time when brands focused on getting the likes, the follows… build the numbers. Get eyes on your social messages. But it numbers don’t mean much if those followers don’t actually have a relationship with the brand. One of my favorite comments during one panel came from BlogFrog’s Jennifer Beaupre: You need to improve the experience for current and future users and influence will happen.

Influence. It’s a major theme discussed throughout NMX. There are two sides of influence that seem to most dominant: Helping brands harness the power of influencers and helping individuals build influence so brands will want to work with them. Influence is complicated to gauge. Products like Klout and Kred claim to be able to score each person based on their influence on social media. Other products, like BlogFrog, try to harness influencer strength based on niches.

Brands focusing on influence is not new. But as IAB’s Susan Borst said during one panel, brands have always tried to harness the power of influence. But the difference now is the digital world comes with data. Digital has actual data behind it: followers, likes, tweets, posts… It goes on and on. The challenge for brands is identifying what data is really relevant, what is right. There are so many different tools out there that gather data. The trick for brands is working on learning how to use the right tools or process to reach the influencers that matter to your brand. There is no one overarching answer for every brand.

Social media has never been a one size fits all process. True relationships with brand advocates and brand influencers take time, effort and money. It’s fascinating to watch it constantly evolve.

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