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4 Ways to Identify and Cultivate Your Brand's Mass Influencer

Mass influencers - you know who they are, even if you can't necessarily identify them specifically. They are the prolific blogger or Tweeter with a huge following or audience that not only reads him or her but follows all posted advice. They can get a rumor started that makes it into mainstream media. They can boost a brand or knock it down with a few well-written posts. They are, in other words, people you want to befriend to hopefully  further your brand.

Only 16%

Mass influencers make up just 16 percent of all online Americans, but are responsible for 80 percent of the brand impressions in online social settings, according to Forrester Research, in its recently unveiled Peer Influence Analysis. "Social media has created a new type of influencer - one defined not merely by number of friends or frequency of dialogue but by both," said Forrester Research Senior Analyst Augie Ray.

Brands can succeed with Mass Influencers by creating programs that energize large numbers of these enthusiasts, Ray says. The challenge, of course, is that marketers do not know who their Mass Influencers are - or what to do once they have identified them.

Monitoring

One way to find them, of course, is to monitor what is said about your particular brand - an activity that is quickly grabbing more budget share, according to a just-completed survey by BtoB Online and the Web Analytics Association, the publication reports.

The B-to-B Web Analytics Survey found that nearly half (48.3%) of respondents are already measuring social media and that nearly a quarter (24.3%) said they planned to increase their budgets this year to monitor public sentiment.

Knowing who the influencers are is far more important and powerful for b-to-b firms than for consumer-facing companies, says Jim Sterne, chairman of the Web Analytics Association and author of Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment, via B2B.

Group Them

Once you have identified them, group them into one of two categories, writes Josh Bernoff at AdAge.  There is influence from people posting within social networks, he says - they are called influence impressions. "Based on our surveys, we estimate people in the U.S. create 256 billion influence impression on each other in social networks every year."

Then there is the influence created by blog posts, blog comments, discussion forum posts, and ratings and reviews, he says - these are called influence posts. "We estimate that people in the U.S. create 1.64 billion influence posts every year. If around 150 people view each of these posts that's another 250 billion-plus impressions."

Engage Them, Regularly

Once these influencers are broken down and better understood, begin engaging them often and intelligently, writes Scott Voigt, VP of marketing at Silverpop at DM News.  "Start building goodwill by … providing them with special benefits. These persuaders can have a huge impact, so make them feel important. You'll cultivate increased loyalty and give them further incentive to share even more."

Evaluate

Then, he said, evaluate your efforts, not once but continually."Instead of just evaluating a promotion by whether recipients opened and clicked-through on an offer, now you can gauge your success by whether they are sharing your offer and talking about it." Use the data to adjust and optimize future initiatives, Voigt also said. "For example, if you discover that a new product campaign resulted in a strong uptick in Tweets, you might design a special Twitter-only campaign offering a channel-exclusive discount. Learn from previous hits and misses."

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