Influencer Marketing is a form of marketing where the focus is placed on key individuals who can influence the buying decisions of the target market.
A 2010 study by the McKinsey Quarterly team found that “marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising.” This positive impact seems to be lasting – the same study found that customers acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37 percent higher retention rate.
Although this study focused on word-of-mouth marketing, there are many parallels between influencer marketing and word of mouth. Your brand’s advocates review and promote the products or services you offer, which becomes a form of a direct recommendation.
In fact, product suggestions made through emails, status updates and tweets are now labelled as eWOM (Electronic Word of Mouth) and are central to the field of influencer marketing.
In addition to conveying many of the same benefits as traditional word-of-mouth marketing, influencer marketing also allows wide audiences to be reached in short periods of time, is easy to test and can be monitored using widely available analytics tools.
The chart above shows how word of mouth impacts different stages in the consumer decision-making process. However, it’s also important to note the impact of the “Internet Information” category – this is where online influencer marketing comes into play.
When you bring on influencers to produce blog posts, give unbiased product reviews, tweet or share updates on their other social channels, they are sharing content that can and will be used by your prospects during the moment of purchase.
This can be critical: as McKinsey’s chart shows us, “Internet Information” accounts for 65% of influence in product consideration at the moment of purchase in mature markets.
Influencer Marketing 101 – How can you find the right influencer for your brand?
To find the right influencers for your brand, you need craft an influencer persona. The key is to remember that consumers are influenced by people they identify with. If you already have an in-depth buyer persona, this step is easy. Find people who match your buyer persona and have a large number of relevant, engaged followers.
Three central criteria can be used to help you choose the right influencers for your brand: the relevance of the influencer’s audience, the influencer’s prominence within their space, and the size of their audience.
Relevance of the influencer’s audience
The relevance of an influencer’s audience is the most important factor to consider when deciding if they’re right for you. These are the people reading and interacting with the influencer’s message.
Answer the following questions about your ideal customer to see if there’s a match between them and the demographic profile of your influencer’s audience.
- How old is my target buyer?
- What is the marital status of my target buyer?
- Where does my buyer live?
- What is the gender of my target buyer?
- What’s the income level of my target buyer?
- What brand affinities does my target buyer have?
- What are the interests of my target buyer?
Depending on which platform you’re vetting influencers on, there are a number of tools you can use to answer these questions in regards to their audience.
If you’re recruiting influencers on Twitter, use Hootsuite’s free Demographics Pro tool. Demographics Pro gives you data such as age, parental status, income and location.
Influencer’s Prominence within their space
How far does a given influencer’s message travel when they share communication similar to yours?
The metrics and tools one should use to understand an influencer’s prominence are also platform-dependent.
On Twitter, you can use contextual Retweets to measure an influencer’s pull within a certain subject area.
It’s important to pay attention to contextual Retweets, since the number of interactions an influencer receives when they talk about your topic is a more relevant indicator than an aggregate of all their earned interactions.
The best way to measure contextual Retweets is to set up Keyhole trackers for topics related to your product or service. Keyhole measures the number of interactions all users across Twitter receive when they tweet publicly about your topic, and automatically creates a list of users ranked by their earned engagements.
If the platform for communication is a blog, take a look at social share numbers using a tool like Buzzsumo. You can also look through the comments section to gauge if the influencer has an engaged following.
Size of the Influencer’s Audience
The size of the influencer’s audience is the final metric to use when vetting advocates for your brand. It’s important not to rely on audience size until you’ve concluded that the influencer’s audience is relevant to your brand and that his or her messages are well-received.
On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram you can easily see the size of an influencer’s audience by looking at the number of followers or page likes they have. If you’re searching for influencers within the blogger community, you can estimate the number of visitors they typically receive using Similarweb.
The Keyhole method mentioned before is a great way to identify influencers who wouldn’t normally appear on your radar. In addition to automatically creating a list of the most engaging users, Keyhole tells you the average number of Retweets they get when they mention your topic, the number of followers they have, and the frequency with which they mention your topics.
Bonus: Crafting an Authentic Message through your influencer
To take your influencer marketing to the next level, there are a few harder questions you’ll need to answer. These constitute the “voice” of your influencer, and will determine how authentic your message sounds coming from them.
In the Buyer Persona Manifesto, Adele Revella from the Buyer Persona Institute highlights 5 main subject areas to focus on when creating your persona.
- Priority Initiatives – What causes certain people to invest in a product like yours and what makes them different from the others who stay with what they are familiar with?
- Success Factors – What results does your buyer expect from making a purchase from you?
- Perceived barriers – What concerns causes your buyer to think that your product is not their best option?
- The Buyer’s Journey – who is involved in the purchase , how is your product evaluated?
- Decision Criteria – Which aspects of your product do your buyers perceive as most important and what do they expect from each one?
Answering any one of the questions above provides a powerful way to communicate through your influencers, remove barriers to purchase, and show the benefits of the product or service you offer.
In conclusion, do not rely on the size of a person’s audience as the sole metric for choosing influencers. People can and do purchase followers to boost their accounts’ perceived performance. Instead, focus on the relevance and engagement level of the influencer’s audience. When an influencer satisfies those two criteria, you can then use the size of their audience to rank and prioritize your outreach.
Here’s a list of tools you can use to simplify the search for the right influencers for your brand. Some of the tools were mentioned in the post, but others have been added with an explanation of how they can be used.
Keyhole tracks influencers based on context and freshness. It tracks influencers who are currently engaging with a hashtag or keyword you’ve decided to track. This method is one of the best, since you’ll always get a list of influencers who have klout in the topic area you’re tracking rather than just a list of people with a high follower count.
Similar to Keyhole, Little Bird helps you find thought leaders in regards to a topic of your choosing.
Followerwonk is a Twitter-based tool you can use to find influencers. They have a database of Twitter accounts that you can search for keywords and filter based on criteria such as number of followers, minimum number of tweets, and location.
The Demographics Pro app inside Hootsuite is a great tool for audience analysis. You can access this tool in the free version of Hootsuite. The Demographics Pro app allows you to analyze the demographic information of a particular Twitter account’s followers. Data is available for factors such as gender, parental status, brand affiliates, hashtags used and location. It’s a great tool to utilise when making sure the followers of your influencers match your customer profile.
Buzzsumo allows you to see the most frequently shared URLs across the web. It also provides a list of influencers who are sharing those urls.