At UM we’re constantly curious about how messages spread among people.  It’s what lies at the core of our strategic thinking. One of the most well documented models for this is Influencer Marketing – where we target the core audience by focusing on a small number of key individuals rather than the audience as a whole.  The idea of Influencer Marketing of course isn’t new – theories about how to influence people through the opinion of others have been around since the 1940’s. However, the rise of digital and social media channels, built around individuals profiles, only elevates the relevance of this approach. What we wanted to understand was if the ‘rules’ of Influencer Marketing are still the same today as they were in the past – or if we need to revise the model?

Seed, Trickle Down, Sub-culture are Influencer Marketing terms that imply influencers can be ‘in the know’ for some time before the mass ‘find out’.  However, the speed (everything instantly) and method (nothing scarce) in which messages are shared through digital channels made us curious to see if these rules still apply.

Working on the launch of a new beverage we partnered with one of our social data partners to identify the most influential venues for the entrepreneur community in London and Sydney.  Entrepreneurs are known for their use of different venues for meetings and work. We wanted to use the analysis to identify distribution outlets and places to host events.

So, what did we find?

Firstly, the traditional way of thinking about influence as a pyramid – feeding the top and waiting for the messages to trickle down – isn’t how influence spreads in these channels.  Instead we should think about the influence network – and in doing so open up the opportunity to seek out a wider group of influencers to reach our target audience. By understanding these networks it’s possible to gain influencer credibility and have messages spread quickly.

The second curiosity is the reach of the Influencer isn’t the best way to assess potential scale.  By understanding the influencer’s network we can get a better understanding of the total potential reach. In the chart below we can see that Soho House is the venue with the biggest reach in London.  However, venues such as Chelsea Space and The Forum actually influence a network of people who in turn have much bigger social influence over the target audience.

So, Influencer Marketing has never had so much potential but the way in which we identifying influencers and spread our messages needs to evolve to a network model. At UM we’re always seeking out new methods to explore evolving consumer behaviors. We use this insight to help develop media strategies that create competitive advantage for our clients.

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