Influencers vs. Mentioners – Why the Difference Matters

Kimberly Surico |
 12/10/15 |
3 min read

Star Wars Droids t-shirtWhen it comes to social analytics, we often talk generally about “social influencers,” grouping anyone who talks about your brand into one big group. But there’s a very big difference between users who are just mentioning you in a comment or tweet, and those who are recommending you or actively engaging with your campaigns.

When NetBase talks about using engagement to derive value through social data, we’re talking about influencers more often than not. Mentions are great, but influencers are your core audience and the ones that will help you create, tweak, execute, and broadcast marketing campaigns.

These are your Jedi Knights.

Use the Force, marketers

OK, maybe that’s a little far-fetched, but we have Star Wars on the brain these days with the release of the new installment, The Force Awakens, coming up. We also recently hosted a webinar where we talked about the importance of going beyond demographics, using Star Wars as an example.

Expanding on that, the whole point of breaking the “traditional” demographics barrier is to find social influencers. Because they do a lot of the work for you, as brand ambassadors.

To find these influencers we used Audience 3D, our new audience analysis tool, to dig into what makes a true Star Wars fan. We wanted to observe these devoted fans “in the wild” to see what makes them tick, and how they interact with other users and brands online.

From 400,000 unique authors in the general population, we found 140,000 unique Star Wars mentioners. That’s a huge number, but it’s a little misleading as there’s lots of “noise” in that sampling. Using A3D we narrowed it down to 84,000 true enthusiasts. That’s a big difference. Why does it matter? We’ll get there in a parsec.

Digging deeper

First, we still want to break that 84,000 into more manageable segments. Because our messaging ultimately needs to be personal – individualized, right? So we need to know what else these fans are swooning over.

For example, the mentioners talk about other brands and products like: Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Batman, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Lego, NASA, Apple Watch, and Big Hero 6. All great clues telling us they’re fairly mainstream.

But the real enthusiasts, the ones who truly geek out, have other specific niche interests we can tap into. That 84,000 was talking about Jessica Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch, Witcher 3, Halo 5, Suicide Squad, Arrow, Daredevil, Mad Max, Captain America. Now we’re talking, right?

And you can go deeper still – to discover Star Wars fans of all ages who also love pizza, or Nutella, or BB8 droids. More is more when it comes to finding unique audience segments.

So are mentioners worthless?

No. The mentioners are a target, too. And they cast a wide net of interests: Apple watches, video games, and fantasy-based television. But being able to see what the real Star Wars die-hards are into is crucial to communicating with them H2H (human to human).

These deeper insights appear when we get rid of the “noise” mentioned above – when we identify and remove “spammy” usernames, hashtags, or junk language like “coupon” or “news.” When we remove all of that from the data set, the conversation among the enthusiast group is a lot cleaner and, frankly, made up of real human beings.

Those are the people you want to talk to. They’re the stars of your brand’s movie – spreading your message throughout the social universe. The mentioners are nice – but like expendable “red shirt” characters, they’re destined to fade away. Of course, that’s Star TREK… a post for another day.

Want to know more about how to connect with influencers by defining individualized audience segments? Reach out for a demo on all A3D can do for your brand.

Image by Sam Howzit

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