Brands have used key influencers to help promote their products for years. Usually through sponsorship or product endorsement by sports professionals, pop stars or actors.
Next down to from product endorsement is the professional journalist, author or critic.
Give a tech journalist a new phone and he’d write about it. A film critic a premiere ticket and they’ll review it, a travel writer a week in an all expenses paid hotel, and it would feature in their next book.
These forms of influencer marketing are either expensive or require good connections to get your product reviewed. This puts them out of the reach for most businesses.
The Power of Online Influencer Marketing
Social Media has brought with it a more subtle and cost effective form of Influencer Marketing.
Through blogging, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube almost anyone can potentially be an influencer. Everyday people are now the critics, reviewers and authors on a wide range of subjects.
Some have influence over a handful of people whilst others can influence a whole community.
In my work with Adnams plc, a brewer based in the UK, we would reach out to a wide range of beer bloggers and podcasters engaging with them around the companies products. In turn they would write about them on their blogs or mention the brand in their shows.
Where as identifying famous people you want to work with or the professional critics you needed to court was relatively easy, identifying key influencers online can be rather more difficult.
Online influence is more subtle, it can also be time and location sensitive. Some online influencers may only be active at a certain event, say a football game at the weekends, others may only exert influence through a specific channel.
A Word Of Warning
This form of influencer marketing, if not approached in the right way, say if you’re too pushy, or your product or service is not up to scratch, can end up having a negative effect.
These are real people, they are not to be manipulated; they love their subject matter, are passionate about it and will become willing advocates only under the right conditions.
A number of services have developed in an attempt to quantify influence. These track activity online, looking at volume, consistency, engagement and topic, to create a map of influencers based on varying subject matter.
Klout, PeerIndex and Kred are the three most well known and popular measures of online influence at the time of writing. Each of these has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, but the industry is still young and developing.
Even so, brands that are used to leveraging the power of influencers offline understand the market have already adopted these platforms to promote their products. Only this week I was approached by Cravendale and Guinness via PeerIndex’s Perks program.
Real-time Influencer Marketing
For businesses other than big brands an overall score returns too wide a group of influencers to cost effectively work with.
After all, you may only be interested in reaching out to people in a specific town or city. You may want to just run a campaign for a specific period of time, leading up to or during an event.
For this we need a bit more detail about the people we could potentially approach.
A new service is now available that allows you to discover potential influencers more effectively.
Awedience, a startup out of Cambridge in the UK, is an application that links in to the three key influencer services Klout, PeerIndex and Kred. Drawing on their data and combining it with a Twitter search, location and time parameters Awedience is able to deliver a far more accurate picture of influence.
The interface is quite simple, you to enter a search parameter, optionally set a location, select which platform you wish to interrogate and a sample size.
You’re then presented with your results; depending on your sample size you then need to be patient whilst the application categorises your results. Once done you can use the menu options to filter the results further.
Here I have narrowed my results to those speaking english with a Kred Influence over 710, a Kred Outreach of over 7 and are influential in sport.
The software can only take you so far and it’s up to you to decide whether these individuals are worth approaching or not.
The quality of your results is going to very much depend on your choice of search phrase and how selectively you filter your results. But this does add another dimension to finding influencers and seeding your marketing campaign.
The Future of Influence
Now that Influencer Marketing is affordable for smaller businesses this form of marketing is only going to grow more popular. The more accurate the data the more effective the campaign and with applications like Awedience finding relevant influencers is only going to get easier.
As with Social Media, the key to Influencer Marketing is in the engagement, so if you do try it be prepared to get involved.