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Kevin Dean
by Kevin Dean
on August 10, 2015

Last week, we talked about the roles that different social media influencers play when it comes to social media marketing. Today, we're going to get into the specifics of who these influencers are and what that means regarding how you communicate with them. Engaging with influencers in your industry, and perhaps designing an entire influencer campaign around them, is a smart way to boost your reach on social media.  

Social Broadcasters

Not every influencer connects with their audience using the same methods. Whereas one popular Twitter personality may share a link after link every day, another blogger may post thoughtful, original content once a week. Obviously, each of these influencers is going to have a different audience and is going to require different tactics of engagement. Let’s take a few minutes to uncover the different types of social media influencers that exist, including social broadcasters, mass influencers, and potential influencers.

Who are Social Broadcasters?

Social broadcasters are the top 18% of social media users who share the majority of original information and content that is found on social channels. These broadcasters publish a large volume of content on a regular basis that they share with their vast network of followers.

 Because of their consistency and dedication, social broadcasters are effective in swaying opinions. With their continuous stream of content, they cultivate a personality of expertise in their field and quickly become trusted sources when it comes to the topics that they care about. Social broadcasters are opinionated and passionate. They are also committed to maintaining their audience and their influence, which is why they constantly cull and carefully select the information that they share with their followers.

The life cycle of a social broadcaster begins with cultivating their expertise through regular posting. As they attract more followers, their name becomes associated with the types of topics they discuss, whether that’s technology, food, politics, or anything else. Slowly, even people who are not ardent followers of that topic begin to recognize their name. This recognition imbues them with even more authority, so the cycle continues as they gain popularity and trust from a wide audience. Social broadcasters are great at spreading information around. However, these are not typically the type of influencers that shape opinions strongly. Rather, they can serve to raise awareness of an issue or product with their constant, informative posts.

Mass and Potential Influencers

If social broadcasters are the people who keep the content flowing, the mass influencers are those that make sure people are reading that content. There are two main categories of mass influencers and potential (or personal) influencers. 

Who are Mass Influencers?

According to a study done by the Forrester Group, Mass Influencers represent only 16% of the population but handle 80% of the social media shares and posts about different products and services. Obviously this is an important group of influencers with whom to maintain a relationship. Within the category of mass influencers, there are two distinctive types: Mass Connectors who spread information and content, and Mass Mavens, who create that content. Now we’ll review the differences between these groups.

Mass Connectors

Simply put, mass connectors are the people who know people. Their personal networks are vast, usually both online and in person, and their aim is to share as much information as possible with as many people as possible. These people collect connections like someone might collect baseball cards.

When you want to forge a relationship with a social media influencer, a mass connector is a very good choice, because they know exactly which door to knock on in order to spread the word effectively and efficiently.

Mass Mavens

The other type of mass influencer, which can be seen as complementary to mass connectors, is the mass maven. Unlike mass connectors, these influencers do not necessarily have to have a massive online following. They gain their influence through sharing massive amounts of original content.

The relationship between mass mavens and mass connectors is symbiotic: mavens need readers for their content, and connectors need content for their readers. It is important to note that a mass maven may also be a mass connector, but this is not always the case.

In terms of the usefulness of these types of influencers in spreading messages about your brand, it is very important to do your homework. Sharing original information that would be relevant to the type of content they produce and the topics they follow is essential in making a connection with a mass maven.

Who are Potential Influencers?

Finally, we come to the segment of online influencers that is largest: potential influencers. Although the 16% of people we have just talked about should be an essential part of any social media communications strategy, there is still the other 84% of social media users to consider. These people are potential influencers. Although potential influencers may not have the same extensive networks as mass connectors or the drive to produce original content that is inherent to mass mavens, they do have one thing in common with those influencer categories: trust. Even if a social media user has only a handful of followers, it is likely that those who do follow them have close personal ties to that person. Their network is made up of friends, family, and colleagues who know and trust the potential influencer. That means when they post or share, those followers take notice.

Potential influencers mostly take their information from those connectors and mavens that they follow and spread it to their more limited network. Although their reach may not be as broad, they can wield considerably more influence over those connections that they do have, because of their personal bond with those people. These potential influencers are going to exercise the most actual influence over a decision.  They can close the gap between what a maven or connector shares and what someone does. 

Because of their relative influence and their vast numbers, potential influencers should not be discounted in a communications strategy. Each type of influencer can play a role in a robust social media strategy, but it is important to tailor your messages and the content you share with the type of influencer in addition to the individual person. 

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