Wouldn’t it be great for your brand to be featured on “Ellen,” talked about on “Good Morning America” or written about in the Wall Street Journal? Of course it would. Aimclear has been successfully
brainwashing branding to journalists, column editors, show producers and beyond for years. While major publication placements are often seen as the holy grail of influencer marketing to most, considering the hoops one would have to jump through and the likelihood of it (actually) happening, a marketer’s time is likely better spent aiming branded messaging to low- and mid-level influencers.
This edition of Targeting Hot House highlights (pretty amazing) stats and trends surrounding the new zeitgeist of “influencer” (move over, Oprah) marketing as it pertains to low- and mid-level influencers. We won’t be going over how to engage and commission influencers for a sponsored placement — that’s a post for another day. Instead, we’ll get into research methods and tools to help you identify broad-appeal power middle influencers as well as those in your niche, and finally how to target influencers in social channels. We call this the make-them-think-they-thought-of-it 😉 tactic. Considering enlisting mid-level influencers as direct sponsors? Branding to them prior to initial approach is a classic tactic. Agencies do it with prospects all the time. 😉
The power of mid-level influencers
It’s no secret to marketers that word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is one of the most powerful mediums because it either comes to a potential customer by way of someone they trust/admire or someone they believe to be like them, i.e. relatable. According to a McKinsey Study cited by Forbes, WOM generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising with a higher retention rate (37 percent), and research shows mid-level influencers drive an average of 16x higher engagement rate than paid or owned media. Influencer marketing has been on the lips of many marketers for years now, but within the past year we’ve seen it nearly double in popularity. If you’re not already, it’s time to hop on board this train.
Who are mid-level influencers?
Let’s say we’re marketing a new hygiene product for today’s modern woman. The influencers we’d seek to tap would be the dime-a-dozen mommy bloggers, lifestyle leaders and sex-positive advocates and educators.
Tapping the sex-positive audience, it would behoove us marketers to seek the voices of Shan Boodram, author and clinical sexologist, or Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, the comedy duo behind the iTunes high-ranking comedic anti-slut-shaming podcast “Guys We F****d,” rather than the famous sex pioneer (and really, truly adorable) Dr. Ruth Westheimer. While Dr. Ruth may have loads of street cred — making the cover of Time, constantly being quoted by The New York Times and brought in for interviews on the “Today Show,” and giggling with late night talk show hosts on the regular since the 80s (because sexuality on TV, LOL) — these creds also come with a higher cash demand and a more selective process.
While Dr. Ruth may have the most Twitter followers at 88.3K (Shan has a following of 16.8K and quickly growing and Corinne and Krystyna have 22K and 20K respectively), it’s important for marketers to analyze not only social stat(u)s of influencers, but the content created: the variety of mediums, span of channels and, most importantly, frequency. These younger, sexually woke women are producing content weekly, if not twice a week, and/or guest hosting/appearing in other podcasts and serialized YouTube videos, plus these femme fatales have all tweeted today* (it’s been about a week since we’ve heard from the legendary Dr. Ruth). Oh, and your new #WCW Shan was just on “The View.” #GetItGirl. Many mid-level influencers are rising stars with loyal followers; brand to ‘em before they’re famous.
Mid-level influencers are the YouTube “Creators,” the vloggers, the Instagram aficionado crowd and the front-line engineer building code who has 10K followers on Twitter and finds everything on Reddit first — not the CEO and face of the billion-dollar company.
Unearthing mid-level influencer lists & like-minded communities
One thing marketers can pretty much count on is that mid-level influencers like bloggers and podcasters are self-promoters and will proudly list their job titles and credentials in their limited-space Twitter bios. BONUS: We also reveal a report to export that will capture the elusive podcaster or YouTuber who doesn’t mention their profession (yeah, these are considered professions now). The list-harvesting tips below range from unsophisticated toolless tactics to list exports by the thousands thanks to tools.
The intern’s tedious task
If you have more time than tools (really?) or a super-handy intern, your DIY process should be to:
- Identify (many) podcasts, YouTube channels, Facebook Live-rs and blogs
b. Tap into pre-curated lists in your vertical with quick searches like “top Twitter influencers in/of <vertical>”
Marketers can find curated lists, often from very reputable publications, for verticals like e-commerce, engineering and even education. Point is, for just about every vertical or industry, someone has made a “top twitter influencer” list. SCRAPE IT. Or all of ‘em.
2. Log the handles of writers, bloggers, hosts, DJs, Creators, etc.
If this sounds painfully tedious (and it is, unless you need something to fill up your time while you watch the Vikings lose another one), speed up the scraping with Import.io, a free web scraping tool. Caveat: Import.io doesn’t play well with infinite scroll :\ It’s best used with Twitter lists of 4-20.
We mentioned influencers within verticals, which is essential for B2B or verticalized products. However, if your product or service has mass appeal, don’t be afraid to open up who you’d consider an influencer, meaning don’t discount the appeal of YouTube Creators who just make funny videos about the hijinks of their daily lives. These YouTube bros and beauties have HUGE audiences.
While list harvesting, don’t worry about getting too vertical with this strategy. For marketers looking to tap influencers directly for sponsorship, it’s important to choose wisely. Since this isn’t the tactic we’re after today, take a cue from Pokemon and catch ‘em all.
Twitter search & scraping with TOOLS!
Tools will do this much more quickly, exporting thousands at a time, by keywords in their bios or content (riskier – this could be too broad) they’ve tweeted.
For this example we’ll be using Sysomos Map, one of our favorite research and monitoring tools especially for social. Sysomos is a pretty hefty tool, and most marketers don’t have the budget for it. Many do have Moz tools, and if you have Moz, you have Followerwonk, which also searches keywords in bios and allows export.
Sysomos search bios:
For this task, we’d search Social Media by Influencer Bios with Boolean queries such as:
((host OR co-host OR cohost OR “co host” OR creator)
AND (podcast OR vlog OR youtube))
OR (vlogging OR podcasting).
With Sysomos, marketers can easily exclude all Twitter users under a certain amount of followers or up to a certain amount (or infinite). The downside of this Sysomos search is the tool will only allow exports of up to 1,000 Twitter influencers. Don’t fret, dear marketers. One can easily get all to most by exporting in batches of follower counts (e.g. 5,000-50,000 followers and 50,000-100,000 followers, and so on).
Sysomos: Most Authoritative
With the same Boolean query, tab over to “Most Authoritative” to get a list of Twitter’s most authoritative users tweeting on this query. With Sysomos’ Most Authoritative search, users can export over 9,000 (or random samplings). The Most Authoritative export allows marketers to add users who 1.) are authoritative and 2.) tweet about your Boolean query and 3.) may not have said Boolean query keywords in their bio, like Marcus Dobre, Sierra Dallas and Rachel A DeMita (who ARE these people??? Olds like us don’t know, but apparently hundreds of thousands of people care ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Good for them. Great for marketers.)
Want these lists?
List padding with expendable impressions & like-minded communities
For lists to simply work, they must be at least 1,000; if you want them to do even better they must be at least a few thousand, if not tens of thousands. Don’t get daunted! These can, and should, be ever-evolving lists and they all start somewhere. It’s highly unlikely for one to find 10,000 mid-level influencers, especially if influencers need to be vertically specific. Therefore, it is wise to pad the tailored audience list with users who are still relevant.
Expendable impressions are the impressions that occur when marketers must target a broader audience but are only interested in a small, influential subset seeing their ad. Typically, the broader audience targeting is due to channel requirements or limitations.
Marketers can search vertical or promoted content-specific keywords and export the “Most Authoritative” users report. Here are some other ideas, and hopefully lists of handles your community manager already has:
- Prospect list (+ their co-workers)
- Client lists
- Business media, vertical publications and their staff
- Followers of competitors
- Users who tweet about competitors (use the Most Authoritative report)
- Followers of complementary products
- Users who tweet about complementary products (use the Most Authoritative report)
- Brand champions
Targeting influencers with social advertising
Once you’ve collected Twitter handles and have a good idea of how these influencers describe their jobs, hop over to Facebook and Twitter to build your audiences. There are a few ways to hit your influencers:
- Twitter custom audiences
- Facebook influencer psychographic targeting
Twitter tailored audiences
What you’ll need:
- Twitter handles – LOTS
Time to put all your research to work and simply upload those Twitter handles as a .txt or .csv.
Et voilà! Done. Use it.
Facebook psychographic audiences
What you’ll need:
- Marketing wits
Throughout your research of mid-level influencers you’ve likely noted what they refer to themselves as professionally. Take that list and add it to Facebook’s job title targeting.
Next, target the tools used to produce their vlog, podcast or blog. Since these tools are pretty broad in use, this audience is best served focused and qualified by whatever content, product or service you may be pushing using Facebook’s AND operator function, Narrow Audience.
If you’re local, you’re lucky
Not all “influencers” need to have thousands or millions of followers around the world; they could simply be the “cool girl” at school, the stay-at-home soccer dad who’s had a dozen jobs around his hometown (that he still lives in) and kept his relationships, the business professional who’s uber-connected to the chamber of commerce, or that one church member who knows everybody. Chances are, you know at least one of these people IRL.
In the case of local influencer targeting, you’ll likely find yourself coming up short of relevant Twitter handles for tailored audiences, but that doesn’t mean local influencer targeting can’t be done. But, attempt to brand to these local influencers via Facebook ads or Twitter ads and you could end up blowing bucks without much return and totally missing your mark.
Want to engage local mid-level influencers? Do it the old fashioned way: organically. Join and participate in community Facebook groups (most towns have at least one) and Twitter chats, and see who leaves their Facebook profiles open to the public (it’s more people than you’d think). Never enter a community with “buy my product” messaging and don’t engage in hot-topic discussions, but look look for opportunities to make friends and offer support. Be an engaged, thoughtful and helpful community member (even if you’re not talking about your product/service) and your goodwill will pay off in spades.
Branding to influencers, especially mid-level influencers who are more easily accessible than traditional high-powered celebrities, can be a powerful marketing tactic. Often, a marketer needs just one influencer to mention their brand to receive significant lift in mentions and/or sales. We’ve outlined a few of our favorite hacks to assemble and target mid-level influencer audiences in social. What follows: compelling creative that spurs conversation or incites an influencer. Until next time, marketers! Happy targeting.