Rational Influencer Marketing through Social Affinities

Scott Turner
by Scott Turner 24 Feb, 2017
PewDiePie's 55 million followers represent reach that is difficult to find in the national media landscape, but his unpredictable behavior has potentially damaged more than one of the brands that used his video offerings as a marketing platform. Yet, influencer marketing is only going to grow.

In a recent meeting, with a senior marketing exec at a leading beauty brand, the influencer marketing phenomena was described as a "magic moment," where some luxury brands are committing 100 percent of their marketing budgets to influencer marketing, then seeing products fly off store-shelves. 

Some thought the FTC Disclosure requirements, issued in 2015, would slow down the explosion of influencer endorsements on social media as it would become obvious that these were paid endorsements, but as one millennial put it to me recently, "at least it is better than having to watch an ad."

As influencer marketing has evolved rapidly and continues to grow, beyond raw counts of subscribers/followers, it does not yet have the benefit of standardized tools and measurements which can be used to evaluate the value of one influencer to another. While agencies that handle these folks say they "carefully screen talent and share the potential risks with clients," they have no way to predict if their "talent" will be a good match for any particular brand.   Actually, there is a lot brands can do to ensure they are aligning with the right talent.

One way to evaluate brand relevance is to look at the strength of active, mutual engagement between two brands' audiences over time. This means measuring the level of reciprocal, highly interactive social media activities (such as commenting, posting photos, retweeting, hash tagging or replying) between two brand audiences showing which fans of one brand have the highest affinity for the other brand. This helps surfaces which influence marketers have the greatest potential to help promote brands at the category or product level.

For example, an Intel Super Bowl ad featured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Aside from Brady himself actually being in the Super Bowl, his social affinity ranking showed that he was a great choice clocking with a very high 7.17 affinity score. But get this, Intel could also have chosen Marlon Wayans (7.88), Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (7.76) or even Matt Damon (7.61) because based on their even higher affinity scores, any one of these would give the ad an even better chance at resonating with Intel's extended social audiences.

Last fall, Lady Gaga and Bud Light partnered on the DiveBarTour, with the initial announcements starting the first week of October.

The three shows in Nashville, NY, and LA drew rave reviews, but according to our rankings, for the first nine-months of 2016, Lady Gaga ranked 330th out of 2,500 Musical Artists tracked by AffinityAnswers, with a True Affinity score of 6.3.  Interestingly, country music's Sam Hunt had the highest TrueAffinity with Bud Light during that same time, with a score of 9.0

The investment Gaga paid off for AB-InBev. In the weeks immediately following the announcement of the tour, TrueAffinity between Lady Gaga and Bud Light surged 24 percent, ending up at 7.8 by the end of October.