Validating an Influencer's Audience

“Influence marketing is a necessary component of any communications strategy.” – Reb Carlson, Director of New Media, RF|Binder



For brands, engaging your ideal customer is harder than ever before. With so much noise and complexity in the media, brands are increasingly relying on Influence Marketing to reach their audience and share their messages in an authentic, unintrusive manner.

Consumers are also more diverse than ever before and gravitate towards brands for a variety of reasons. A brand could be attracting a community of rock-climbers and a community of surfers – two very different audience segments who will respond to and expect very different communications. Therefore, building custom communications for each segment is no longer just a consumer expectation, it is required.

In addition, today, brands only get one chance to make the right impression on consumers, so identifying and validating the influencer chosen is critical.

Finding the Right Influencer For Your Brand

For brands, identifying the right influencers to engage their audience is challenging, let alone influencers that speak to the interests and passions of each audience segment. In addition, validating whether the influencer of choice does indeed reach the audience segments which they claim to do is also a challenge for brands. Time and time again we’ve seen brands spend money engaging influencers, for little to no return.

Today, many decisions regarding influencer selection rely on opinions, gut-checks, and subjective identification methods. While most brands have basic reach metrics and demographic information about an influencer’s audience, they don’t know really know who the audience is comprised of and if their ideal consumer is found within it. This makes identifying influencers time-consuming, challenging and predicting success somewhat difficult.

This poses the question:

How can brands identify and vet influencers, for each of their audience segments, that they know will resonate?


Influencer Selection Begins With Understanding Your Audience

We used Affinio, the marketing intelligence platform, to answer this question using affinity data.

As an example, we analyzed the audience of a sports and outdoor gear clothing brand. Our algorithm segmented this audience into twelve interest-based clusters based on their shared interests and affinities. These clusters are shown in the below audience visualization.

By leveraging interest-based segmentation, brands can understand the different audience segments they attract on an intimate level including what they are interested in, what content is already resonating with them, and who they trust. As shared by Reb Carlson, Director of New Media at RF|Binder, “Understanding your audience right from the onset helps answer the question of how best to leverage influencers.” This knowledge provides brands with a direction of what audiences they should engage with, and furthermore, what influencers they should activate to reach them.

Let's say we want to target the rock climbing community and surfer community in two separate influence marketing campaigns and need to identify potential influencers for the task.

Using the Affinio Interests tab, we immediately have insight into how likely this audience is to follow a given account (relative to network users) and how relevant these interests are to your particular audience. By toggling between the "Relevance" and "Affinity" options in-platform, brands can identify the "Top Influencers" for this audience as well as the "Top-Niche" (smaller scale) influencers.

Identifying "Top Influencers" with the Relevance Score

By sorting by the Relevance Score, brands can ensure they are selecting influencers that will resonate with their target. These are the most contextually relevant accounts (people) to the community highlighted. The Relevance Score measures, from 0-100, those interests that are most likely to be of interest to this community based on affinity, audience size, and the number of community members who already follow the particular account. A relevance score of over 12 can be considered relevant to the community.

Top Influencers for the Rock Climbing Segment

Individuals such as Alex Honnold, Sasha DiGiulian, Steph Davis, and Cedar Wright are highly relevant to this audience and would be a viable influencer selection for the rock climbing community. Note: relevant brands, products, celebrities etc. also show up in this list. There are numerous filtering options available in-platform.

Top Influencers for the Surfer Segment

Individuals such as Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson, and Jordy Smith are highly relevant to this audience and would be a viable influencer selection for the surfing community.

Identifying "Top-Niche Influencers" with the Affinity Score

By sorting by the Affinity score, brands can identify the individuals who have followers that mainly reside in the chosen audience segment. Affinity is how many times more likely a person in this community is to follow a particular account compared to any random person on the network (Twitter, in this case). While you will often find individuals with a small number of followers, those followers exist in the select audience segment. Therefore they have unique influence over your target audience. Depending on your campaign goals, a smaller scale niche influencer may be a more viable option based on budget.

Top-Niche Influencers for the Rock Climbing Segment

Individuals such as Dave Turnbull, Matt Segal, Rob Greenwood, and Kelly Cordes have high affinity to this audience and would be a viable niche influencer selection.

Top-Niche Influencers for the Surfing Segment

Individuals such as Tracey Engleking, Pat O'Connell, Eric Terrien, and Justin Cote have high affinity to this audience and would be a viable niche influencer selection.

Vetting the Influencer Audience

Brands can take this one step further by analyzing the audience of the influencer in question. While data shows these accounts have high relevance and affinity to the audience, it is best practice for brands to also analyze the influencer’s audience.

The reasoning? Today it is more common for influencers to have “botty” audiences, or audiences that aren’t 100% real or fit your desired criteria. With the growing demand of ROI on marketers, brands must ensure that their investment in an influencer is a strategic one.

RF|Binder has used Affinio to verify whether an influencer’s audience is authentic:

“We leveraged Affinio to do an analysis of influencers we had already identified. We were able to discover that some influencers had audiences where there were a few clusters comprised of spam bots or were audiences that were not relevant for our client. We were also able to distinguish influencers whose clusters aligned with our client’s content strategy and therefore would be able to provide more value in the long term.”


Measuring the Success of an Influencer

Once marketers have identified their influencer and the ideal audiences they wish to target, they need to be able to truly measure the impact of their influencer campaigns over time.

Using Affinio, marketers can actually see how their audience changes over time. Let’s say the outdoor gear engages the top influencer, Kelly Slater, to reach the surfing community in their audience. As the outdoor gear brand grows, in theory their surfing-related audience should grow in conjunction with their influencer efforts.

With this measurement tool we can actually measure the growth and date of acquisition. In addition, we can see what new communities are emerging.

When To Engage New Influencers or Abandon Them

Using Affinio, brands can also see how the interests of their audience change over time. This allows brands to identify up-and-coming influencers who are gaining traction with their ideal audience – or – identify which influencers may be losing influence over their ideal audience.

Removing the Guesswork

By leveraging interest-based segmentation and affinity data, brand's remove the guesswork from influencer selection. Immediately brands have a list, based on relevance or affinity, of individuals big and small which they can engage for an influence marketing campaign.

By understanding who is already resonating with an audience, vetting them, and measuring their success, brands can increase the likelihood that their message will be heard and resonate with their target audience.


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