Influencing the influencers

  • Social media
  • September 14, 2012
  • Anthony Gardiner
Influencing the influencers

I wish I had been a marketer during the '50s. I would have worn a hat, and I would have yelled at consumers until they bought my brand of shark cage. But sadly, times have changed. We have seen marketing messages evolve from “Hey! This is what I want you to think about my product” through to the modern day nirvana of having citizen marketers doing our advertising for us. The shift has been from the brand as the story teller to having stories told about the brand. And who better to tell these stories than the fabled mass influencer?

It is probably not surprising that in my role as social media strategist with OMD every brief that crosses my desk has essentially the same bullseye target market: Mass influencers between the ages X & Y. But how do we influence these influencers and get them to talk nice about our brands?

Bloggers can be a pretty fertile territory, and sometimes it can be as easy as giving them a freebie and asking them to review it. In the same way, we can reach out directly to personalities on Twitter, or other media channels like radio, or tabloi... I mean newspapers. As with all citizen marketer campaigns, however, this tactic hinges on having a good product or service offering, and giving the blogger the freedom to write what they actually think. Marketer beware…(cough #QantasLuxury)

But there is another way to reach these people. Something much more subtle, that also imparts the feeling that the mass influencer is the discoverer, and has some sacred, esoteric knowledge that they will then impart as a means of gaining social currency. And social currency is what influencers “buy” their followers/fans with.

I am talking about nano-targeting, the creepiest and grossest form of marketing I know. Targeted campaigns for shampoo can be run during The Ridges, reaching hundreds of thousands. We do micro-targeting via segmented email databases, and with the demographical and sociographical options via Facebook, reaching maybe 10,000 consumers. Nano-targeting is when we run a (usually social channel based) ad campaign targeting one or at most a handful of individuals.

The mass influencers need to keep their profile high to remain relevant, and as such they generally have a very large digital footprint. Marketers can use publicly available and freely offered information to target their Facebook advertising to, let’s say, an individual male, aged between 25 and 26, who lives in X, and works at Y, and are interested in Z, and A and B, and J, and F…. Targeting in this manner should eventually end up with a target group of “less than 20”, Facebook’s minimum. Highly targeted copy and imagery tailored to this single individual should be clicked on, and is generally much cheaper than baksheesh. $100 in hard cost to target ten mass influencers in this way should be enough, but the full organic reach, spread in a word of mouth way, from a trusted and peer reviewed source, can be huge.

Once the influencer makes the discovery, so long as it is a relevant and interesting story, they will share it with their audience and do your marketing for you. You can take the rest of the day off.

Actually, perhaps there is a creepier way to get influencers on board. Suppose you want a famous sports star to talk about your brand. It may be easier to influence someone who already influences them. Perhaps that sports star has a partner who has a public profile and is far more approachable. Get in touch with them and see what happens.

Anyhoo, these kinds of techniques are why I almost left the industry and went back to fixing corrugated iron roofs in Wellington’s wind and rain. Tradesmen’s jokes really are less creepy.

  • Anthony Gardiner is a social media strategist and self-proclaimed 'askhole' with OMD Word. 

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