How Influential Individuals are Changing Social Media

Things aren’t always as peachy as they seem at the start. In fact, peach is not even a shape when we’re talking influencer strategy!

Unlike the real world where it pays to have an influencer with a tonne of contacts on your side, it turns out that content marketing is a little different.

The general consensuses with digital-driven marketing has been to track the total amount of reach and impressions to gauge effectiveness. This is traditionally where influencers claim their stakes. These people with a massive following are engaged to spread the word about a brand and get big bites in return.

Based on the reach of the post, businesses are usually quite chuffed with ‘strategy influencer’.

But recently, this method was placed under the microscope to measure real life impact – that is loyalty to the brand and actual sales. These influencer campaigns look impressive at the start, but what tangible results have they provided in the end?

A research project #OnlyConnect2018 – The Power of Brand Influencers, conducted by World Wide Worx, in conjunction with social intelligence platform Continuon, studied the content marketing efforts of 50 major brands and concluded that influencer marketing has a shape. Not a one-size-fits-all shape. In their research, this shape seemed to changed from brand to brand.

Continuon’s product manager, Richard Nischk, said they used the study to revisit the measurements of influence. Rather than take only reach and impressions on board, they put the whole project under a microscope to see what really affected consumer behaviour.

To redefine the measurements of influence, we took an approach that provides metrics that can be, in quantifiable manner, used to increase return on investment.

Reach is most certainly an important element of the equation. However, what really counts is having the ability to affect behaviour. In social media, this comes in the shape of sharing, engaging, interacting, tagging and gaining word of mouth from the people you reach”, Richard said.

An influencer algorithm was designed and used by Richard’s team to study the engagement types and behavioural data. The algorithm assigned a score out of one hundred to each influencer involved in a brand’s campaign, according to the brand-specific social media communities.

It was surmised that in respect to impact on brand loyalty, the most effective measure of social media influence was the power that an influencer had on extending conversations beyond the original post. Continuon say this velocity of social conversation and engagement can be measured exactly though three questions:

  1. When did the individual join the conversation, and what was the impact that the interaction had on the conversation?
  2. Did it reach and impact the right audience via the right channels, at the right time?
  3. Which individuals and groups of people were in control of this increase in velocity?

The score then assigned to each influencer is grouped into a segment. Each of these segments builds a shape and quality of a brand’s online community.

According to Richard, a score of 90 or over is genuinely rare. And he says that the common shape formed for each brand is similar to a pyramid.

The influencer segment pyramid

Most influencers are located at the bottom of these pyramids with a low score. These, according to Continuon, are called the Herd and Sharers.

Next up the pyramid you find Trendsetters. These influencers come in with scores of 40 to 60 and they start to have some actual influence. The top of the pyramid is made up of Lighthouses and Icons. Lighthouses have scores of 60 to 80, whilst Icons are the most priceless of the pack with their scores above 80.

Richard believes these pyramid shapes allow brands to determine the various levels of influence within their online communities.

“This enables brands to understand how each level can be leveraged to build an army of authentic brand influencers. Brands can drill down and get granular to understand every single person as an individual and what their individual score is. Now, from an impact point of view, influencer profiling can be granular, relevant and measurable within the social media universe”, he says.

The most valuable shape of influence is a basic pyramid. This demonstrates a sturdy base of Herd with a smaller number of Sharers just above. The pyramid then works up to a gradual point with fewer Trendsetters, followed by even fewer Lighthouses, and Icons as the most valuable sitting right at the tip.

However, perfect pyramids are rarely found. The majority of brands and businesses build more like a flat, shallow wall, with no Icons and only a limited number of Lighthouses. These strategies are flat in appearance and flat out having any real impact long-term.

Interestingly enough, their study found the industry that was most likely to have the largest number of Icons was the not-for-profit sector. Perhaps duly to fact many of these organisations encourage authentic connections and conversations through their non-commercial campaigns. These voices tend to have the greatest overarching power.

What have you done to measure the shape of your influencer strategy? Are your influencer campaigns offering real return on investment, or are they falling flat mid-construction?

Need help? Delve further into the shape of influence with our Social Media Mastery content marketing gurus discover your shape here.

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