Who is a social media influencer?

A social media influencer is a person who has the ability to affect/influence the thinking of others in his network/social community. They range from just normal every folks to companies, celebrities who share relevant content that are of interest to a community.

Before you start a social media campaign, it is important to identify who the Influencers are in your social community as they are very useful in spreading the word about brands, product or services. Influencers usually can use their presence on social network for personal gain or as ambassadors/reps for a brand or company.

So how do you identify INFLUENCERS? Are they the ones with thousands of followers?  The highest number of Facebook friends? The most controversial? Not necessarily.  Here are a few tips on how to identify Social Media Influencers

  • Using Social Influence Measuring Tools(SIMT) : Websites like the popular KLOUT tracks a user’s Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Foursquare activity and helps you understand a person’ influence on all platforms. Another SIMT is Peer Index which measures interactions across the web to help you understand individuals impact in social media. Others twitter specific tools include TWEET GRADER, TWITTER COUNTER
  • Quality over Quantity:  Quality of content remains the basis of influence on social media. Influencers truly engage, they have interesting conversations with people in their network, they usually post the funniest, wittiest, most informative things and are really interested in sharing. Popularity on social networks or the amount of followers an individual has matters BUT doesn’t necessarily make them a social media influencer. A lot of people have a huge number of followers but not the ability to prompt engagement and conversations. They have no influence over their followers, they usually have that many followers because  they engage in some silly online antics. Companies are usually swayed by large followership which is normal, if you identify someone with 60,000 followers you would readily choose them over someone with 10,000 followers because you assume they can reach more people. All I am saying is apart from their large network it is important to take other things into consideration. A large followership is not the most important  aspect of being a social media influencer, it is just one of many. A large followership is also useless if you are not able to engage and interact with those in your social community.
  • Will The Real Followers Please Stand Up: Did you know that is possible to buy facebook likes, ,twitter followers and even youtube views? Well now you know. Thankfully for twitter there is a site that helps you find out how many ‘fake’ followers or bots an individual has. A bot is an entity that tweets but is either not a real person or never has anything personal to say. Mechanical, automatic. I stumbled on a site recently http://fakers.statuspeople.com that helps you find out how  many fake/real/ followers an individual has on twitter. If you enlist the help of an influencer who has 50% fake followers it defeats the purpose because messages about your brand are not reaching real people.
  • Look for thought leaders: Thought leaders are individuals in the social community whose tweets get the most retweeted and replied. They are usually seen as leaders in a chosen field (music, politics, film, sports) whenever they speak about a particular issue people tend to take them serious. These individuals as brand ambassadors can be very effective. They are highly respected and have opinions that are greatly valued.  Find an active, subject led influencer.
  • Social Sharers: Social Sharers, these are individuals who have knack for sharing any and every information. They are the go-to person for the latest information on anything ranging from music, entertainment to politics. They are steadily pushing out important information that people need and as such people see them as a valuable part of their network. Social Sharers can also be bloggers, or just individuals who just can’t help but share information on their platforms. They can be very useful in pushing out a message about a brand. They are the ones forever sharing links on whatever social platform you are on, they always seem to be the first to get the information about that topic that is currently HOT. They are sharing stuff on facebook, twitter, blogs, linked in, Google +, youtube. I am sure you have seen one of two people in your network that fit this category.

Celebrities: Certain high profile celebrities can drive immense amounts of buzz with just one share. These celebrities are usually well respected and most times have a likable personality. With celebrities, individuals like the more social, engaging celebs. The celebrities that take the time out to interact with them. Celebrities who are VERY active on social media networks. For example Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Don Jazzy, eLDEE the Don, Banky W, Wizkid, Iceprince and so many others. If one of such celebrities recommends your twitter handle you can be sure that people will definitely follow you and for the next 3 hours the mentions just won’t stop. That is how much social power they have come to have. Celebrities have been known to recommend a thing and in hours its buzzing all over the internet. For example, Take latest internet sensation South Korean Rapper– PSY whose comical video and dance – Gangnam Style has taken over the world. The video had been gaining views in a slow pace but after several celebrities got wind of it, celebrities like Britney Spears, T-Pain, Josh Groban, Robbie Williams, Katy Perry and  tweeted about him the buzz for his funny video went ballistic. He even appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show. With over 500million views since July of this year, he has one of the most viewed videos in YouTube history. Look for the popular celebrities who are very active on social media networks but be sure to also be ready to pay them. It’s not free you know.