Identifying five levels of influencer action
I remember discussing the “new” influencers in my book, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.” This discussion dates back to 2009.
Today, we’re still talking about influencers and how important they are for our marketing and PR programs. When I discussed influencers over five years ago, it was within the context of storytelling and being able to share a customized story with different audiences. The ability to go beyond just the mainstream media was really appealing to communicators.
However, in my book, the influencers were broken down by the size of their networks. They were known as:
The A-List: The A-List influencers had tremendously large networks (hundreds of thousands) and the same clout as Wall Street Journal or New York Times reporters. When this type of influencer wrote about you or your company, people would flock to your website. They would report your story and move on to the next big news item.
The Trendsetters or Tastemakers. They had 20,000 or 30,000 followers on Twitter and more than 5,000 friends on Facebook. These influencers really liked to dig deep into a topic of their expertise. They would follow a company, product or story from start to finish with passion and dedication.
The Magic Middle. The Magic Middle is comprised of member communities where most brands and their PR people were not invited to participate. These were close-knit groups with less numbers, but the types of followers and friends who acted as soon as their trusted influencers shared information. The best way to describe the Magic Middle is a small but extremely powerful network.
These classifications still exist today, but focused more on the numbers of community members and the clout associated with each network. We've learned that influence equals action. New categories need to be highlighted.
Here are five distinct levels of influencer action that will help you determine the type of influencer who best fits your PR and / or marketing program.
The Simple Sharer: The Simple Sharers are happy to like, retweet and share any piece of content or information that you give to them, across their social communities. They are open to sharing good, accurate and meaningful information that they feel will benefit their social media communities. At the same time, they extend your reach to their networks that just may do the same.
The Amplifier: The Amplifier goes to greater lengths to share your content across communities. With more enthusiasm and passion, they will take what you’ve developed and then create their own content in the form of news articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, memes, etc. In most cases, the larger the Amplifier’s network, the more exposure your story will receive.
The Social Connector. The Social Connector goes beyond the Amplifier to take your content, write about it and then targets and connects other people within their networks to you. For example, these influencers not only write a blog post about what you are doing, but they also tag other people to get them involved in the conversation. Social Connectors are known to share and then link you to people in their network or recommend others to engage with you too.
The Cheerleader: Cheerleaders are special influencers because they know how to rally the crowd, beyond just sharing and amplifying. They are motivators and people pleasers. They often help to change opinions and to create a preference for your product or service. With their enthusiastic attitudes, these influencers can get their friends, followers and fans to act in a desired manner and get others to advocate on your behalf.
The Reviewer/Endorser: This type of influencer wants to review and critique your products / services on a deeper level. Perfect for new product launches or beta testing services or tech platforms, the Reviewer / Endorser is happy to share with their communities, whether they like what they experience or they find it less than pleasing. They will report on the good, the bad and the ugly.
The discussion around the types of influencers and their actions will continue. Yesterday it was the focus on the numbers and popularity, and today it’s the type of actions and engagement, making sure you get people to behave in a desired manner.
How are you breaking down the influencers and their actions, and then strategically involving them in your communications programs? What other types of influencer actions would you add to the list?
Deirdre Breakenridge is CEO of Pure Performance Communications. She is an international speaker, blogger, Lynda.com video author and an adjunct professor at NYU and UMASS at Amherst. Her most recent book published by FT Press is Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional.
Photo: Graph opinion influence via Shutterstock