How to Market to the New Mass of Influencers

If cable and online video fragmented TV audiences, then audiences are shattered when everyone produces their own channel or subscribes to a handpicked list of channels produced by their friends, influencers, entertainers and chosen brands.

Once upon a time (approximately 1,500 days ago) companies could reach out to influencers individually. They could brief them and spend time with them. Today, there is a new mass of influencers, too numerous to connect with individually and not influential enough to warrant the expense of one-to-one outreach.

Now everyone has a soapbox and a small audience. As a marketer, if you can figure out how to engage enough individuals and have them share your cause, you can turn this mass of influencers into a marketing channel that delivers scale.

The challenge is: How. How do you reach the mass of influencers cost effectively? How do you identify them, engage them, and track them? How do you do it at scale? I believe we will see two answers to this question emerge over the next 24 months:

Influencer Platforms

Multiple platforms purport to measure influence (Klout, Kred, Peer Index) and Klout has already developed its Perks program to quickly reach a large number of “influencers”.

We will see a huge increase in platforms to reach influencers, allowing marketers to continue to take a traditional advertising approach to reaching this audience. Turnkey solution, from outreach to tracking, will deliver allow marketers to continue buying this reach for a price.

Engagement Platforms

Similar to the platforms used by PR firms today and potentially building off the capabilities available in social CRM platforms to track communications, offerings like SocMetrics will allow companies to identify potential influencers, reach out to them using a combination of tools and one-to-one communication, and monitor to determine results.

Your Turn

In the next two years, I believe these two approaches will emerge as ways to reach out to influencers. Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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  • http://twitter.com/arthuranswers Arthur Huynh

    Excellent post Eric. We’ve been gearing for this shift for a long time here are eCairn. Our algorithm looks at blogs, where the gold content is located, rather than twitter. And we’ve understood from the beginning that it’s about targeting, not just broad monitoring.

    We spot the people who are most influential by looking at the referrals and reblogs, making sure to ignore spam and bots.

    More about our method:
    http://blog.ecairn.com/2011/11/10/how-to-rank-an-influencer/

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Arthur, thanks for sharing. It is definitely an interesting approach and I would agree it finds the true centers of influence. My question, as it compares to companies like Klout or Kred, is if blogs can identify the multitude of smaller influencers. I believe these are the mass of influencers that companies like Klout and Kred or looking to identify for marketers (the mass influencers do not sell their influence that cheaply).

      For identifying the core influencers, and more accurately the influential core content creators, I like your approach. Will be very interested when you expand it out to include activity on additional platforms as well and how you maintain your focus on activity the individual cannot directly control.

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