Which influencer will serve your brand the best?
Recently, the agency TERRITORY and the University Macromedia presented an interesting influencer typology study. And to be honest, it is good to see some data and surveys made around the world of influencers.
A large scale survey
In this new typology content creators are not classified according to their number of followers, but according to motivational criteria and their different values. The survey took a total of 33 criteria into consideration and establish a grid to classify the influencers and arrange them into clusters. Those clusters can be defined in four main higher order clusters: "need for attention," "altruism and empowerment," "self-revelation," and "money and justice."
To make this study and typology relevant, 47000 influencers in Europe and the USA where surveyed. And this makes this study the largest ever global survey in this marketing discipline.
Rafael Schwarz, Executive Director of TERRITORY Influence commented: "The ground breaking study adds a new element to influencer management, helping brands to select the right influencer type, the best content format and social channel. Based on these qualitative criteria, the ideal brand fit can be determined much more precisely than before, which in turn has a direct impact on influencer audiences".
So, what are the results of the study? Well, five profiles have been defined: the Rationalist, the Poser, the Expert, the World-Changer, and the Story-Teller.
At 28.3%, are the largest influencer group worldwide. They are mostly professionals and are primarily motivated by money. Two out of three Rationalists regard social media as an essential part of their lives. The quality of their content almost corresponds to journalistic standards - with detailed research and critical analyses. Their characteristic is the high standard they set for themselves. Their favorite channels are Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. Brands can count on a highly professional cooperation but should provide clear insights, facts or figures in order to support the content style of the Rationalists.
The Posers or Models
They are the second largest group with a share of 22.5%. They have a high need for self-expression and audience recognition. 73% enjoy attracting the attention of like-minded people by informing their community about topics that play a role in their real lives. This also includes products: Three out of four influencers, for example, say they want to share their experiences to help make a product decision. For 67%, "influencing" is a passion. Their favorite platforms tend to have a visual focus - Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. Posers are not locked into specific content types when it comes to working with brands, but are enthusiastic about a variety of collaborations. Reputation-enhancing benefits such as access to exclusive events will additionally motivate these type of influencers.
This group represents 19.7%. The experts like to influence both their audiences and the companies they collaborate with. 88% want to demonstrate their professional expertise to their followers, but 92% of the Experts state that they would also like to influence product or service improvements. Their preferred platforms are broad - from Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to LinkedIn. They are extremely demanding when it comes to brand collaborations, but also have high credibility with their community. Thus, companies should provide detailed background information about their products, features or services. In return, marketing and R&D teams can also benefit from their valuable feedback.
With a share of 16.6%, the World-Changers represent a comparatively small group. They are mainly motivated by their own values and a sense of responsibility. 92% of them want to support “good brands” and help them succeed if they are satisfied with their quality. Also called Idealists, they try to do the right thing and are concerned with topics of social relevance. After Instagram, Twitch is their favorite channel, not least because the live streams allow them to engage in an in-depth dialogue with their community. Brands working with World-Changers need to ensure they have a strong CSR approach and are able to prove their positive impact on society and the environment. Products and activities are critically reviewed to rule out greenwashing so do not try to fool these critical influencers.
The Story-Tellers prefer to link products and product information with their own experiences. In the smallest group overall – 12.9% – the motive "self-disclosure" receives the greatest approval. They put a lot of effort into their content since they like to entertain their audience with 86% stating: "Many consider me a good source of information when it comes to new products." Popular channels are thus Instagram, TikTok and their own blog. When working with this type of content creators, it is essential that brands are willing to relinquish control and are happy to be integrated into entertaining storytelling.
Market culture brings variation
While all 5 types of influencers are present in every market, their share differs greatly, indicating a strong cultural impact on influencer motivations and values. In Germany, for example, World-Changers account for 35.5%, making them the largest group of influencers, while the same group only accounts for 7% in Poland. On the other hand, the proportion of Rationalists is highest in Italy (34.5%) and smallest in Germany (19.8%).
Prof. Dr. Florian Haumer, Dean of the Media Faculty at the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, summarizes the influencer typology study: "Attitudes and values – these are the dimensions that make brand communication successful today. Accordingly, the conclusions of our research are also clear for influencer marketing: Sharpen the values of your brands and seek maximum value overlap with your influencers. This will ensure effective communication, regardless of media channels, socio-demographic factors or influencer outreach.”
My 20/CENT on the study
Today, some still consider influencers as non-journalists, non-experts or even just specialists of the face pouting,duckface and hashtag woke up like this. But if you ask me, you can find influencers who are actually very knowledgeable in their field and some are even more expert than so called expert professional journalists. This new study actually illustrates this point very clearly.
In today’s world, it is undeniable that influencers are part of a brand’s marketing strategy. But so far, and too often if you ask me, brands and agencies focus too often on the number of followers of an influencer. I won’t mention any names, but agencies I meet are often only focused on the number of followers. Many influencers I know are actually getting frustrated about the usual questions: “how many followers do you have on Instagram? On Facebook...”. But it seems that many agencies and account managers never ask the most important questions: who follows your publications? What kind of content do you create? Where do you get your sources? So, such initiatives as this study and typology are actually quite helpful to the influencer business.
Hopefully in the future, brands and agencies will start to focus on the message, the content and most of all the right target group instead of just focusing on the numbers.