When Identifying Influencers, Look for the 3 R’s
[By Kait Fowlie]
This is post 1 of our 6-part guide to making the most of influencers in your PR communications. Stay tuned for posts 2 – 6, each of which will walk you through the rest of the steps required to build a successful influencer program.
Getting influencers on your side can supercharge brand awareness and lead-generation, but the effort you put into building relationships with them is only as impactful as the effect those influencers have on their communities.
How do you find and interest the key players who have the power to amplify your brand message to the right audiences – those people who are looking for your type of product or service? And what exactly marks the distinction between an influencer who simply has a large following or generates a lot of social buzz and one who will drive positive results for you?
By adhering to a simple rule of thumb you can save a lot of wasted time and effort. Influencers most valuable to your brand will demonstrate the following qualities, which can be summarized by 3 “pillars of influence” determined by Brian Solis in his 2012 report “The Rise of Digital Influence and How to Measure It.”
The 3 Rs of Influence: Reach, Resonance, and Relevance
REACH: This is a measure of audience size. Aside from possessing qualities that have the power to drive action, an influencer has an above-average number of followers in a specific niche or market.
Look for: The quality of an influencer’s followers. You might think identifying influencers is just a numbers game, and while Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, LinkedIn connections, and Facebook page likes are important – certainly, the more people you can reach, the better – the quality needs to match up to the quantity. A large following that isn’t engaged very often won’t be greatly affected by an influencer’s recommendation, let alone take action on it. Valuable influencers have an above-average reach, but perhaps most important, they also have an above-average impact on their followers.
RELEVANCE: This is a measure of how relevant someone is to a topic that is relevant to you. If relevant keywords don’t “pop out” at you when you first visit an influencer’s website, the influencer will likely look at your brand and feel the same. In fact, the less obvious the connection between your brand and the influencer from the get-go, the more care you’ll have to take to tailor your pitch to them. Influencers don’t want to promote the products and services of a brand that isn’t relevant to them, just like you don’t look for influencers that aren’t relevant to you.
Look for: Mutual relevance. Find this by assessing keywords the influencers are showing up for when you do Google searches, as well as tags and categories on their blog, hashtags they are using on Twitter and Facebook, and the topics of groups they are involved in.
RESONANCE: This is a measure of how much activity an influencer generates by publishing content. Someone who creates content people crave and love to engage with will make a major wave with a blog post and gain a lot of traction with a single tweet, because the content resonates with fans and followers.
Look for: Duration and level of activity around the relevant topic. Check out the number of retweets they get, and their Facebook shares and blog comments on the topic(s) that is important to you. If posts written weeks or months ago are still getting shared and talked about, it indicates a high resonance. This quality ensures more people will see a post or update (impression) when published, but also that it can stay alive for a long time in the social stream of online consumers.
Which of these pillars you choose to weigh most heavily in your influencer strategy will depend on your goals. If you want to drive brand awareness, for example, looking for a large reach may be a priority. If you’re hoping to establish credibility as a thought leader in your niche, you might look to resonance or relevance first.
What other qualities do you look for in an influencer?