How to Identify and build your Influencer Network

Many a time we have a preference towards a brand. It may be because of a great experience or due to a particular product or simply because of the relationship we may have established with the company. Looking at this situation from a brand’s point of view, how can they recognise the loyalty or how can they even leverage a customer’s likeliness to their advantage?

From my personal experience, I often order cakes from the same bakery and promote the brand very frequently so much so that most of my friends have become loyal customers to the brand. The bakery has no idea about this and if leveraged smartly, they can utilise my affection to market their brand or run a campaign for customers like me based on their purchase data history. Like this bakery, there are many businesses that are not leveraging the power of their influencers in the right manner. This blog post will simplify the process of how to identify and work with the right influencers.

It starts with understanding the Influence landscape i.e. characteristics of influencer networks.

 

source:ahtgroup.cpm

  1. What are the driving forces behind influence?

  • The jump to the 2.0 era where more people are generating content.
  • The reliance on peer reviews and the decline in the impact of traditional advertising.
  • The fragmentation of media resources where besides TV and print several other platforms have become content sources.
  1. Who is influencing us?
  • Journalists and bloggers followed by the social media micro-celebrities.
  • Celebrities as always remain popular influencers
  • Analysts are a new addition as the data digging brings out the trending themes and the FADS for people to follow.
  • Experts and professionals due to their experience and research.
  1. What are the influence mechanisms?
  • The traditional media sources like radio, TV, prints are still considered as influencing mechanisms but others like social media and blogs dominate the youth’s influence channel. Personal meetings and interactions via emails and phones especially within sales and B2B domain are still big influences.
  1. Use of influence aggregators- social media platforms such as Reddit, Quora, Twitter that allow mass sharing that makes the content trend and go viral are ways of influencing more audience.
  1. Influence networks – To capitalise on the right influencers, brands must pay attention to the network density (how big is the network), the transmission ratio (what is the reach of the influencer) and must be careful of the negative influencers.

The next step in the journey is to identify an influencer and strategize an implementation plan. This can be done with the help of the LEAD Model.

LISTEN

It is crucial to understand:

  • Where the conversations are taking place– it may not always be on the most popular platform. For e.g. for a food brand, conversations maybe happening on Zomato and not so much on Facebook.
  • Who is participating– the demographics and interests of the audience
  • What are they saying– Their profile and the tone of conversations, are they browsing, are they regular buyers or the are still deciding.
  • What people are looking for– understanding the audience needs and problems – this can help decide the content and the right influencer.
  • Impressions and conceptions- Is the communication coming across in the best manner, is it easily understood, are the values and goals easily represented.
  • Patterns of audience behavior– When does the audience talk the most about the industry/topic/product. For e.g. for a food brand, conversations and high volumes of orders come around festivities or weekends.

 All these parameters can be easily identified using popular listening and monitoring solutions like Meltwater, which can help in taking the first step towards understanding the audience and identifying the top influencers.

EXPERIMENT: This stage adds perspective to the importance of listening. The listening and monitoring are the basic ingredients that help in planning and further execution.

  • Create brand presence- now that listening has helped define the best platform choice- its time to make an impact with the right kind of content.
  • Building relationships- Listening and other tools like influencer database can help identify the popular bloggers, social media influencers and brand advocates. Meltwater’s ICM platform can help reach out to the popular journalists and bloggers directly from the platform. Therefore, now is the time to initiate conversation. It’s best to establish relationships when there is an actual liking towards the product/service so that there is real value for the influencer to promote the product. Such kind of ambassadors and relationships are long-term and more sustainable than the short-term money induced promotions.
  • Repeat- This model is not a one-time linear model, it requires the constant need to listen and experiment to keep identifying the right influencers.

APPLY:

  • After identifying channels and influencers, it’s now time to assign KPI’s and metrics to measure the qualitative and quantitative impact.
  • Iterate- look back, analyze what is working and what is not. Improve on what’s working.

DEVELOP PROGRAMS– The hunting phase is now over, we must develop schemes to attract more loyalists and mechanisms to constantly identify more influencers e.g. launching loyalty programs or a marketing campaign for advocates.

  • Resource allocation should be in a way so that a portion of the marketing efforts are allocated to these influencers who can spread awareness and impact purchase decision.
  • Sometimes giving the brand a human face also works. For e.g. Vijay shekhar Sharma as the face of PayTM or Arnab Goswami as the face of Times Now. Implementing this strategy should be a careful decision as negative comments on the person can impact the brand image as well.

We have populated the process to identify influencers; the next step is to understand how to measure the qualitative and quantitative impact. Read our next blog post to learn more about measurement metrics.

The content is adapted from a Meltwater Webinar by Rohit Awasthi, Co-founder of Solomo Media on ‘Influencer Networks: How to identify and work with the right influencers’.

10 Questions with Rohit Awasthi, Co-Founder of Solomo Media

Welcome to our series of ’10 Questions with’ some of the most eminent thought leaders within the Marketing, Communications & PR industry. We have Rohit Awasthi, Co-founder of a media agency ‘Solomo Media’. Rohit has more than 13 years of experience in Social Media, online communities, product management and marketing. He is also a guest speaker at our free upcoming webinar on ‘Understanding Influence Networks and how to identify and work with the right influencers’.

1.Tell us about you and your professional journey

After graduating from NIT Calicut in 2003, I worked as a Software Engineer for 2 years but found my calling in Digital Media when I joined Pagalguy.com as its first employee. The 5 years I spent there were one of the most enriching times of life, where I worked alongside the smartest people I have known. In 2011, I joined Snapdeal as its Head of Social Media and got an opportunity to work at scale in a fast growing company. Post that I worked in a similar role at Hoppr (now Hike) for a while and started Solomo Media in 2012.

2.What inspired you to take the entrepreneurial route?

More than few reasons i.e.

a. We started in the 2G times. We could foresee that people will be consuming lot more data in the coming years. Brands are usually slow in leveraging the upcoming trends in Digital and a different kind of approach is required for each platform. That is where we wanted Solomo Media to be.

b. When I was on the brand side, I felt that most of the agencies do not have the Digital DNA. Many campaigns were anchored around ATL/BTL and the Social Media teams were either working in silos or the last ones to know. We looked at making brands Digital first, with quicker turnaround times couples with great ideas and terrific execution.

c. As someone who has been inspired by books like Maverick, Human Resource Champions and Delivering Happiness, company culture is something which is really close to my heart. Hence, our most important goal is to build a company where common sense rules over hierarchy, mediocrity is unacceptable and excellence is rewarded.

3.What has been your biggest breakthrough and toughest challenge?

My partner and I have been part of the Startups/Digital Industry for a long time before we started. Any breakthrough is a result of hard work over years and when we started, we just did not get wishes from our network, but also referrals from them, who believed that we have been doing great work for years and will do the same in our new journey.

Our toughest challenge is finding, recruiting and grooming talented folks. In the last 4 years, we have learned, instituted programs and activities which help us identify and reward the exceptional performers. This is a challenge which can only be solved with insistent efforts in the right direction, one day at a time

4.How do you differentiate yourself from other agency services?

Differentiating ourselves is a daily challenge in fast changing Social Media or Digital space. Following are the few things which we believe differentiates us –

a.Trust – A relationship between a client and agency starts with trust. Always ensure that the client trusts you with ideas, timelines and costing.

b. Long -term approach – Digital budgets are only going to increase. Be the best advisors to clients and do not look at the short-term gains of monies. Even if it means lots of discussions.

c. Turnaround Time – Fast, Frictionless, Frugal. Our processes are designed so that we can deliver ideas or changes quickly, with as less friction as possible without incurring a huge cost of change at the client’s end

5. What is your favourite thing to do outside of work?

Playing with my Golden Retriever, Kaiser. He is also our Chief Happiness Officer and spends his day in office premises.

6.If you could step into the shoes of one business person for the day, who would it be and why?

Elon Musk. It will be amazing and phenomenal to see the world through the eyes of an entrepreneur who does not hesitate to put all his earnings into futuristic ideas but also intends to make things better for humanity.

7.What is your top tip for creating a successful social media marketing strategy?

People pay for Content, Brands pay for Marketing. The best Content Marketing is the one where everyone wins.

8.What is your favourite marketing blog?

I cannot pick one but I will highly recommend Brian Solis, Occam’s Razor, Dave Trott and Seth Godin .

9.What trends should we look out for when it comes to digital and social within India?
As far as Digital is concerned, I see a lot of convergence amongst different channels. Persistent Content streams (SEO, Blogs, Static Content) and Real Time Content streams (Social Media, updates, Listening tools, Ads, Customer Care) will not be spread across multiple agencies or teams. There is so much “juice” and knowledge which is being shared between different streams that it does not make sense for them to work in silos. The Brands or Agencies that create frameworks to quickly exchange knowledge and execute rapidly will be the winners.

Unfortunately, we are reaching the end of Social Media. Unlike 2011-13, when we could build apps or experiences that integrated social connections, interesting content and exponential benefit for users and brands, today the Social Media platforms have evolved to become publishing platforms. I just see more usage of different content formats (videos, gifs, cinemagraphs) delivered in new ways i.e. Stories, Facebook Live etc.

  1. What’s the best professional advice you have been given?

Win the case, not the argument.

To know more on how companies can leverage Influencer Networks and work with Influencers.Register for our free online webinar with Rohit Awasthi.