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In a conversation about social marketing, there’s one subject that seems to surface more than anything else: influencers. By attracting the right influencers to your brand, experts say, you’ll pretty much guarantee free marketing for your business. Thing is…not many of them actually talk about how to tell whether or not someone is the right type of influencer.

As with anything else, there are different breeds of influencer, each requiring a slightly different approach if you’re to succeed in courting them. That’s why today, I’m going to offer up a brief guide on identifying the three major types of social media influencers. And if you want to go a bit more in-depth, you can always check out Smart Insights’ more extensive breakdown on influencer types, as well (I’d advise reading it anyway, as we’re going to be drawing on it, to an extent). 

Let’s dive right in. One note before we begin, though. There may often be overlap between the different influencer types, as people are complex – they don’t necessarily fit into clean, differentiated categories.

The Elevated Consumer

The first entry on our list is unique in that they may not necessarily be an industry authority or widely-known personality, but their words carry weight all the same. As the name suggests, elevated consumers are pretty much just everyday people who’ve both a decent following on social media and a strong interest in your brand. They’re also the most numerous influencers out there – and arguably the easiest to attract.

They’re also among the most valuable, since they tend to be completely organic in their interest – and thus completely authentic in their advocacy.

“These people do not need compensation or any convincing to promote your brand – because they already do it,” writes Maria Materise of Cision. “Organic advocates can be difficult to find, since they usually have a small audience, but they can be integral to your success. Audiences are often tuned in to inauthentic enthusiasm for your brand, which could turn them off of your product or service.”

Not surprisingly, Elevated Consumers are most useful for businesses with consumer-facing products and services. If you primarily work with B2B, a random customer that shows interest in your brand is far less likely to carry weight.

Most Common Elevated Consumer Personality Types:

The Agitator

The Connector

The Activist

The Journalist

Approaching An Elevated Consumer:

If they’ve shown interest, touch base with them. Promote their content on your own social feeds, and see if they’d be interested in further promotion of your brand.

The Professional

Next on our list is the professional, known for their knowledge and expertise. The value of a professional is most pronounced in the B2B marketing space, especially the tech industry. This is because people who are technically-knowledgeable or who have a professional stake in a particular industry are far likelier to ascribe to the words of a Professional, someone whose word they trust and whose advice influences how they run their own organization.

Most Common Professional Personality Types:

The Authority

The Personal Brand

The Analyst

The Insider

Approaching A Professional:

For a Professional to consider working with your organization, your product and name usually both need to carry weight of their own. A security analyst isn’t going to talk about an unknown startup with no innovative security practices, nor will an authority be likely to offer an opinion on your business if it’s just getting on its feet.

The Celebrity

Last but certainly not least, we have the celebrity – a personality with an online audience that’s likely larger than both of the other two put together. These are people whose words carry weight not because of what they know, because of what they do. Take PewDiePie, for example – currently YouTube’s top-grossing, most-subscribed streamer.

Although he’s a rather brilliant marketer, he’s not really an authority on many subjects. All the same, if he puts his name behind a game or a developer, it’s essentially akin to handing them a license to print money. His fans will buy the game, simply because he featured it.

Approaching A Celebrity:

More often than not, for a celebrity to promote your brand, you need a sponsorship deal in place. That said, if you see someone whose name is widely-known in pop culture personally promoting your products, reach out to them. There are few things more valuable than a celebrity who has organically given a product their personal seal of approval. If not, go through their managers and negotiate a fair price. Note that this may be a little higher than expected, influencer marketing is one of the hottest ways for brands to

Closing Thoughts

Who you attract to promote your brand is just as important as attracting them in the first place. Always keep that in mind. By learning to recognize the different influencers and their personality types, you’ll be far better-equipped to give your brand a leg up on whatever social network you choose.