How hot is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is now more searched for, via Google Trends data shown above in blue, than email marketing or social media marketing as a whole. Influencer marketing is the latest, the greatest, the hot thing that every marketer has been mandated to master. In this series, we’ll delve into three models of influence, and show how each model aligns to our budgets and timeframes.
Part 2: Key Concepts
Before we fully develop our working model of who is an influencer, we must define what influence is. Influence is:
1. the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
2. the power to shape policy or ensure favorable treatment from someone, especially through status, contacts, or wealth.
3. a person or thing with the capacity or power to have an effect on someone or something.
When we speak of influence in marketing, we focus on motivating a behavior. We want to compel a behavior from an audience to take action in our favor, from buying something to considering our brand to filling out a form.
To measure influence, then, we must measure behaviors which align with the goals we have set.
Consider a couple of the most common measures of influence:
- Followers. If the outcome we seek is more followers ourselves, it is not unreasonable to use followers as a measure. The influencer in question has obviously been successful at encouraging that behavior.
- Engagement. If the outcome we seek is more people talking to us, using engagement as a measure makes sense. Some influencers excel at creating conversations.
However, most of the time, our marketing goals call for other behaviors. Our goals call for brand awareness and recall, or authoritative validation, or outright website traffic. How do we measure these other behaviors and evaluate influencers by them?
New Data, New Technology
Since most influencer marketing measures focus on data provided by social media, it’s logical to build influencer measures with the same technology that social networks use. Most social networks’ understanding of influence and how individuals relate to each other and to entities like brands are built on graphing databases.
Unlike a traditional table-based database, a graphing database is akin to a pile of index cards connected with string, looking like a giant spiderweb. The more connections that any individual card has to other cards, the more strings that card has tied to it.
Instead of thinking of influencers with just static numbers like number of followers, what if we instead judged their importance in the same way as social networks? What if we used graphing database technology to measure their interconnectedness? As we explore influence in this series, we will base our analysis on this technology.
Some of the popular graphing databases on the market include:
Choose the technology that best suits your platform and skills.
Time and Money
Two other key considerations we must take into account with influence measurement are often overlooked by marketers. As with all forms of strategy, our influencer marketing strategy must account for cost and time.
Different programs have different timeframes and budgets; most organizations cannot afford a Kardashian (regardless of whether they want one or not). Given our exposition above that influencer marketing is now more popular than email marketing or social media marketing in search queries, it stands to reason that we need to budget for it in the same ways and quantities that we budget for more mainstream forms of marketing.
Most organizations, because they do not fully understand influencer marketing, also under budget the amount of time needed for an impactful influencer program. Different influencers require different amounts of time to build relationships with. Some influencers are transactional; swipe your corporate credit card and they’ll say nearly anything on our behalf. Other influencers require lengthy relationship building periods to reach and get to know them.
Next: Building the Model
In the next post in this series, we’ll put all these factors into a combined framework that looks something like this:
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Building an influencer list that’s good takes time and a lot of human interaction- it works well for local businesses this way. And I think for big brands, it works at full scale (hiring celebrities for your commercials) but I think it gets harder in the middle, when picking out an “influencer” requires more information about their personal clout and social graph. I’m so glad you’re putting this together 🙂