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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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’.