Consumers are now firmly in control of when, where, how, and even if brand engagement will occur online. Dubbed “influencers,” these social media enthusiasts are educated about the products they buy, have an opinion about them, and aren’t shy about socializing them.
Influencers hail from different industries, can be topical experts, activists, celebrities, bloggers, academics, YouTube producers, and more. They build, inform, engage, and influence dedicated populations of followers, thereby taking word-of-mouth to a new level. As McKinsey & Company put it, the “digital revolution has amplified and accelerated its reach to the point where word-of-mouth is no longer an act of intimate one-on-one communication.” Today it operates on a one-to-many basis.” *
Far too many brands continue to pursue a one-size-fits-all approach to influencer marketing that pays disproportionate attention to the size of an influencer’s following rather than its quality, including, for example, the degree to which the audience is actually engaged or the influencer’s appropriateness to a specific brand. “Having a lot of Twitter followers or a large blog readership doesn’t inherently make a person influential,” says marketing consultant, Jay Baer. “True influence drives action, not just awareness, and very few online demi-celebrities have enough juice to drive action in droves.” **
So when thinking about tapping influencers — here are five attributes to keep in mind:
Are they relevant?
Relevance is the degree to which an influencer’s messages, posts, comments, and other social mentions align with your brand’s most important keywords and interests. The more precise your company’s understanding of these connections, the more easily you can rank and prioritize the particular influencer relationships you wish to pursue.
What kind of reach do they have?
Brands need to consider the influencer’s potential reach, which is the total number of followers, fans, subscribers, etc., who are connected to the influencer across different media channels.
What kind of impact will they have?
Impact measures the number of followers who interact with an influencer’s brand-relevant posts as well as the number of interactions generated by a particular social mention. Impact can be gauged across the entirety of an influencer campaign.
How active are they?
Tracking the activity of where, when, and how often your influencers post is important not just for determining the ideal intersections with your own brand goals, but because it also will enable you to monitor their posts and follower engagement once your influencer campaign has begun.
How about quality?
Quality takes into account the number of followers interacting with an influencer and, more importantly, gauges their relative value. A weighting formula gives credit proportionate to the quality of the interaction, meaning that a retweet is going to rank lower than a reply, but higher than a Facebook like.
Word-of-mouth is so powerful; couple it with the overwhelming number of growing social media users, and a serious influencer platform is born.
* “A new way to measure word of mouth marketing,” McKinsey & Company, April 2010
** Why Online Influencer Outreach is Overrated and How to Fix It,” Social Media Today, June 13, 2012
For teams using social media dashboards, like those in Tracx, making sure everyone who uses these tools understands these changes should be a top priority.
Brands that have not relied on organic reach in Facebook and Instagram will not likely see any changes this year. Those who do will need to take a serious look at other options.