Advocacy, acceleration of content creation and generating buzz around products and services are always at the top of the list for most brand Go-To-Market strategies.
One consistent goal is to identify and engage key influencers in a specific brand category and work to activate them by peeking their interest into becoming a brand ambassador for your offering. Sounds easy enough right?
The problem is the divide between influencers and brands is very real and more fragmented than you may think. Obviously there are the A-list influencers in each category. Getting a single mention from Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) or a featured article via a TechCrunch or Mashable author are worthy of praise.
But how do you identify RELEVANT influencers? A large number of Influencers have moved past only residing in blogs and are leveraging other social channels. While blogs are still a key component of influencer outreach it is incredibly important to review an influencers comprehensive social footprint in comparison to your target consumer to ensure that you are maximizing your true social reach.
Many tools exist today to identify influencers across categories such as Technorati’s top 100 (Blogs) , Klout (Twitter), Radian6 (Multiple Channels) etc… but additional analysis needs to be conducted prior to executing your outreach program. Generating tool created influencer target lists is only half the battle.
When I work with brands I use a combination of tools to craft the ideal influencer target list for my brand category. But before I proceed with any type of outreach there are 2 additional steps that need to be taken.
#1 – It is extremely important to take into consideration the target consumer segments and behavioral characteristics. This is critical as your influencers are only relevant to your consumer target if they are actually relevant to your consumer target!
#2 – Not all influencers are created equally. Just because you have a list of 100 potential influencers to target it does not mean that you will get the most reach per channel.
When I review influencers for potential brand impact I take into consideration the following variables:
1 – Ensure my Consumer Segmentation is as detailed as possible including characteristics and perceived personas.
2 – Consolidate sets of traffic & engagement patterns via publicly available sources.
2 – Map Target Demographics & Age indexing against my consumer segments
3 – Categorize and review social channel penetration and impact per channel as well as review how integrated their individual channels are.
4 – If available brand partner history
Once all data has been collected I score each set of variables based on a proprietary influencer index that I created. I will review as much data as possible around each influencer… Monthly uniques, demographic indexing tied to my consumer segments then I run numerous calculations on factors such as Dan Zarrella’s Retweetability Metric (# Tweets per day /# of RT’s per day)/Followers as well as analysis of Facebook reach, YouTube subscribers, video views and more.
Each data element receives a 1-3 weighted ranking based on Primary, Secondary & Ancillary influencer target status and all scores are then averaged to gauge an influencers potential brand impact rating.
What I find is that there are many tools that will get you 80% of the way there in terms of identifying relevant influencers. There are many tools that are channel specific and provide valuable data. In order to find the individuals that are truly relevant to your potential target audience it is important to venture that last 20% in order to truly maximize your program for success.
Regarding the outreach portion it is extremely important to be respectful in your approach. Take the time and show an interest in the topics they are passionate about and incent them in a way that will definitely encourage them to engage and be reciprocal in your praise. Facebook’s upcoming change that will allow brands to take more control of responding as a brand can further increase the bond between influencers and the brand. Aggregate relevant posts, provide links back and respond to their requests in a timely manner. Treat influencers as you would like to be treated and it will go a long way.
I have found these steps to be an extremely valuable framework to executing a successful influencer identification and outreach program.
Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360