Influencer Relations: Magic Middle vs. the A-List

Frank StrongBy Frank Strong, Author of the blog, Sword and The Script

Brands often want A-list influencers advocating on their behalf, but there are drawbacks.

Big influencers sometimes come with big egos, big price tags, but maybe not such big results. In other words, influencer marketing with the big names may not be as effective as brands hope, according to a recent study of consumers.

A survey by Collective Bias, of 14,000 adult consumers found, “30 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase a product endorsed by a non-celebrity blogger than a celebrity. Of that number, 70 percent of 18 to 34 year-olds had the highest preference for ‘peer’ endorsement.”

If fickle describes most consumers for brands, then elusive might describe the coveted segment of the millennial consumer. There is hope, however as the study also found:

“Consumers are consulting blogs and social media on their mobile devices prior to shopping. Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents have taken a blog review or social media post viewed on a smartphone or tablet into consideration while shopping in-store.”

While many marketers want shortcuts, tools, or algorithms to pop out a list of influencers to pitch, this data casts doubt about that approach. It goes to show that effective influencer relations aren’t about attracting lots of eyeballs but attracting the right eyeballs.

Big Brands Listen for the Magic Middle

In a piece explaining how Coca-Cola identifies and engages influencers, Traackr’s Delphine Reynaud, writes the brand targets influencers in all segments: A-list, anonymous consumer and the magic middle.

The magic middle is a “vast” group “of micro-influencers with smaller but faithful following.” This group is more likely to work with brands she reports, and “is vital for many brands because A-list is often out of reach.”

She later notes the soft drink maker’s first rule of success is “listen and find the relevant influencers and thought leaders and try to work with them.”

Role Reversal: The Magic Middle Finds You

Building relationships with influencers that are up-and-coming is smart business, but that doesn’t make it easy. Relationships require hard work and finding those magic middle influencers with values and interests that are aligned with a brand is time intensive.

More to the point, in my experience, brands don’t just find the magic middle – the magic middle finds brands.

Getting to that point requires setting the conditions to be found and fostering an easy dialogue. This requires an aware, active and responsive presence across the online community especially blogs and social media.

A brand that wants to cozy up to magic middle influencers has to start by being accessible.

About the Author: Frank Strong is a communications director with more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector. He previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and with PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton.

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