Interviews with Influencers:
There is no question that influencers have become powerful weapons for brands to work with. However, when it comes to working with an influencer, how do you find the right influencer for your brand? How do you know who the right influencer is?
To introduce the 42 Influencer Network – we sat down for a chat with one of it’s Influencer partners; Chris Barraclough to discuss The future of Technology – Moving from Blogs to Vlogs
I first got into tech journalism roughly a decade ago. At the time I was a senior programmer for a high street retailer, spending about ten hours each day squinting at reams of code until my eyeballs bled. Then one night I woke up in a cold, sticky sweat and decided that I absolutely had to quit my job and somehow discover a way to get paid for stuff I actually enjoyed doing, before my entire life passed before me in an anxious trickle to GoTo commands.
I’ve always been a fan of writing (shameless plug, you can buy my novels on Amazon’s Kindle store – one of them won an award once), so I thought journalism would be a good fit. I took an online course and passed the NCTJs, and soon after joined Future Publishing as a tech hound. Getting the chance to play with all kinds of new tech before it hits the public domain never gets old, especially seeing how consumer devices evolve. When I was a kid, I was super proud of my ZX Spectrum, which could load a game in roughly 20 minutes. These days, my 3-year-old daughter is a whizz with an iPad.
I first started presenting tech videos back in my Future days; it was one of the first UK publishing houses to realise the value of the platform. Only in the past couple of years have most other publishers seemed to recognise that tech channels are a great way to reach new audiences and build a community of followers.
The reason for video’s popularity seems to be pretty straightforward. The ‘instant gratification’ world we live in means attention spans have been well and truly curb-stomped. Those days of waiting 20 minutes for a Spectrum game to load are well and truly deceased. Now we get a rage on if we have to stare at a Netflix buffering wheel for more than five seconds, so most people certainly don’t have the will to read a five-page review on a laptop.
Video reviews and features can show off a product in far less time – or even more depth where necessary – while the visual element is a perfect match to shiny, sexy tech. It’s great for us reviewers also, as it allows us to get really creative – not to mention gurn at the camera as much as possible. And while there’ll likely always be a place for the old-school written review, I expect video to rip a huge chunk out of that platform. Although the two do complement each other nicely, when done right.
At Recombu, we decided to go video only purely out of convenience. We’re only a very small team, and trying to feed a massive website as well as a fast-growing YouTube tech channel was bad news for my bowels. And with the channel soaring in terms of subscribers and monthly views, as well as engagement levels, it made sense to concentrate on this growing sector.
Of course, the pitfall with going video only is that you start to be bracketed with ‘influencers’, the latest form of ‘blogger’ (or ‘vlogger’, as influencers were previously labelled). Influencer is still a bit of a dirty word in journalist and PR circles, conjuring up images of a spotty kid with a rich daddy who bought them lots of expensive camera equipment for Christmas.
Still, many influencers have a commanding presence on YouTube, far ahead of their journalistic peers who were too caught up in the written word to pay much attention. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. It’s all a question of responsibility; anyone with a commanding following shouldn’t simply produce content with the aim of getting as many hits as possible, a curse that’s now plaguing traditional tech publications too. Content should be honest and informative, first and foremost.
That’s why brands and PRs shouldn’t just pay attention to the number of hits a video gets on any particular channel. Those numbers are meaningless without more context; who actually is the audience watching these videos? Are they interested in the product, or do they simply enjoy watching the host screech at the camera? How long does the average viewer typically watch for? Are they engaged enough to offer their own opinions?
It’s exciting to think of where this is all leading, both in terms of the tech sector and the way we report on the latest launches. Thankfully, whatever happens, my bowels are a lot happier than they were doing code monkey work.