Gone are the days when publishing brands would strike massive, exclusive traffic deals with portals, with the sole purpose of enhancing audience reach. The evolution of the portal landscape, combined with the meteoric rise of social media has completely changed the game, creating far less options for affiliate marketing than in previous years.
Publishers, much like marketers, are looking for more precise ways to engage the right audience on their platforms. This has led to a new category of traffic enhancement: the social influencer. The seeding of content through social influencers, when done correctly, is now as scalable as the old-fashioned AOL home page link. This is especially true when targeting the coveted millennial audience.
Finding the right influencers for your brand, including ones that reflect your tone and voice, is a data-heavy practice that takes research, trial and error and the focus of an audience development team. It is important to make sure that any influencer you partner with has a workable connection with your brand and comes across as a seamless integration and not a paid poster. The most successful brand/influencer relationships are honest, organic and authentic and have a common ground that simply makes sense. This is not to say that cross-industry collaboration cannot work, but being true to your brand creates and reinforces authentic consumer connections.
The beauty of influencer marketing is that you do not need to rely on famous personalities or celebrities. True influence is the key here, and can be achieved by working with a base of partners who may bring different components to a set of diverse traffic and content needs. Sometimes working with a group of influencers with smaller reach can be more effective than working with a single partner with an extremely large following. And while clicks or shares may be the end result, getting into an influencer’s stream also carries some brand value in and of itself.
Before starting any influencer program, it’s important to map out what your brand objectives are. Is it purely to increase reach? Appeal to a younger demographic? Grow your following? Engage more with a specific type of consumer given certain forms of advertiser demand? Social influencer marketing can help with all of these, but this category of audience development needs front and back-end measurement to really work.
As has been widely acknowledged, the home page is dying -- and, based on current industry traffic trends, it’s not going to be a slow death. However, the pivot into influencer marketing as a platform to replace homepage traffic attrition is more targeted and scalable than the industry currently realizes.
Bottom line, it’s time to stop thinking about the home page redesign and to start focusing your attention on side-door diversified traffic, including influencer marketing. The sooner we come to grips with the incumbent death of the home page, the sooner there will be a more concerted effort to replace its scale and impact.