Influencer marketing can be one of the most powerful ways to get people interested in an issue. Simply put, it's about getting people of influence to speak about your brand. But it's more than a tactic - considerations include making sure your campaign is actually worth talking about, and then making sure you involve the right influencers.
That's where our 5 types of influencers comes in. Most of the discussion about influencers is about a) number of followers, b) levels of engagement, and c) topic relevance. However, in practice we found that there's not ONE kind of influencer that's right for a campaign - there are FIVE. Namely, Pioneers, Amplifiers, Authorities, Participators, and Scalers.
We've shied away from the typical industry language of "brand influencers", "micro-influencers", "influencers", and "celebs" because those specifically refer to number of followers rather than the role the influencer plays in a campaign.
To illustrate how we work with these influencers, and explain the categories we'll use a live campaign example...
On World Water Day , 24th March 2018, Water Advocate Mina Guli announced that she will be running 100 marathons in 100 days for 1 reason: Water. We were tasked with getting this announcement out on social media, and ensuring that her message of water conservation came through as clearly as the message of ultra endurance inspiration.
Using our Social Media Fireworks approach, we reached over 18 million people. But as you'll see in this post, it is not only that we reached LOTS of people, it is that we were joined by the RIGHT people. Some of the most influential and credible players in the space of water conservation, sport, and business supported the launch on World Water Day by mentioning Mina's campaign directly as well as the #everydropcounts hashtag.
Here are the 5 types of influencers we message and try to involve when we do a Social Media Firework:
The first type of influencer we’re looking at are the Pioneers -- those who are directly involved and invested in the message you’re trying to get out there. Pioneers are plugged into the scene, they're plugged into the scene, they're passionate about the issues.
The idea is to let these people know when the campaign is launching, and to request their participation. You may even get some good ideas from your Pioneers that will improve your message.
Getting the support of topic pioneers at the start of the campaign is the best possible start because they can also help you shape the message, and they show your relevance.
In relation to the RunningDry campaign, the Pioneer Influencers we reached out to were fellow water activists and users whose feeds consisted largely of water-related content. For RunningDry, we were lucky enough to be building on the #Run4Water campaign, where we spent months ensuring Mina was following the key Pioneers in the water crisis conversation, and often getting reciprocal follows as a result. This allowed the pioneer outreach for the RunningDry launch to be carried out a lot more easily, because we could simply look through Mina’s followers for the pioneer influencers, reach out to them via DM and often have their support based on this already existing relationship.
The next type of influencer to consider is the Amplifier -- they are are interested in your topic, and have a high number of engaged followers. Generally called "Influencers" they often drive the highest volume of engagement and reach in a campaign. Generally speaking their following is in the range of 100k - 1m but just as important as their large reach is their clout as conversation leaders online (you can tell by their engagement rates generally).
Authorities bring an added level of trust and credibility to a campaign. We're talking about institutions like universities, leading non-profits in the space, academics, and experts on the topic.
Wow, stay hydrated. Go Mina!— Peter Gleick (@PeterGleick) March 22, 2018
For Running Dry our Authority outreach included accounts like the verified World Resources, to individual gatekeepers such as Seth Siegel, author of Let There Be Water. Their participation showed people that Mina is a trusted and credible campaigner in the space of water conservation.
Participators comprise the largest proportion of your followers. They are the people who choose to follow you simply because they like your content or what you're talking about. On aggregate, participators can be the most influential of everyone in your campaign. To gain the support of Participators you need to maintain a consistently high level of relevance and entertainment value. It also really helps to activate their involvement using other channels, such as email newsletters or calls for involvement on TV and radio interviews. And of course, acknowledge and thank people for getting involved and supporting - like posts, comment back, share.
Thanks for the moderate "impractical", Stephen. Generally, it's met with "mad" "impossible" ... but this is my 100%, all in 💧🌎— Mina Guli (@minaguli) March 22, 2018
The Scalers are Celebs with mega-reach because of their huge follower counts. Even a simple share or retweet from them can be a major boost. Having their support helps you take your campaign into the mainstream.
Relatively light engagement from celebrities including Maria Sharapova, Karen Davila, and Don Riddell brought the campaign into millions of people's timelines. These were unpaid endorsements based on the strength of Mina's story and the importance of her message.
Online and Offline Influence
Lastly, Mainstream Media and Social Media are a great compliment. It's always encouraging for news organisations to see that an issue is gaining traction online. So thanks to supporters like CNN's Don Riddel and Al Arabiya's Talal Al Haj, Mina's story was carried off social media and into hundreds of millions of homes around the world by broadcast television.