When looking for the right influencers, it’s tempting to focus on the big fish, the ones with huge followings. Most think that size matters (as I’ve pointed out, influence is not just a number).
Then again, much has been said about the benefits of targeting micro-influencers – those with fewer than 10K Twitter followers. They’re said to hold more sway, pound for pound, and be easier to engage than mega online personalities.
Go big, go small – perhaps there’s another variable worth considering in your influencer marketing. Those seeking to improve results might want to take a page from the real estate business.
Recall the old joke about the three most important factors that affect property value? It’s all about location, location, location. Similarly, the influencer’s network perch – and how they connect with other circles – can hold the keys to that showcase property (OK, I’ll stop with the bad real estate puns).
It’s all about network science. The application of this field to marketing was very nicely illustrated in this Moz blog post. It discusses how to achieve the “majority illusion”. You can create the perception that your topic is wildly popular by getting the right influencers to share the information.
Kelsey Libert writes: “Marketers can… create the tipping point needed to drive action or spread a message far and wide. It starts with identifying influencers who have the potential to create the majority illusion among your target demographic, and then encouraging those influencers to help amplify your message.”
If that sounds tricky, get comfortable, grab a coffee or your drink of choice, set for a spell and read the entire piece. It’s heady stuff for marketers and worth the slog.
I’ll try to simplify and summarize in a few words.
The theory relates to the structure of social networks. Kelsey’s team mapped data representing Twitter influencers, showing their connections and affiliations with verticals such as automotive, tech and marketing.
The larger nodes (assumed to be more influential) don’t necessarily have more followers, but more connections across their extended networks (in other words not just first degree links, which connect people directly, but indirect ones – the followers of their followers, etc.).
She summarizes “… social influence is more like six degrees of Kevin Bacon than a popularity contest. Because of this, marketers should focus on getting their message spread by influencers within a focused niche or strategically-positioned influencers to maximize reach, rather than looking for influencers who merely have a large following.”
If that weren’t cool enough, it turns out that you can sharpen your pencils and target them based on your goals:
Do you want to spread your message widely, or in a niche group? Are you trying to build buzz for your topic and go viral, or more interested in driving action and conversions?
(Yea, I know, the answer is “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Marketers want it all).
This all sounds great, but the average marketer or PR pro may not know where to get started, what tools can help, or how to understand the language of network science.
I will try to answer these questions in my next post. Stay tuned! And please share any feedback or questions here.