The Best Influencer Marketing Research Tool is Not $24 a/month

Be careful if you are thinking about buying an influencer research tool for $24 a month. You get what you pay for.

The problem with most of these influencer marketing research tools is how they rank the influencers. They use measures like social reach, the number of followers, the Kred influence score, and other surface-level metrics. But these aren’t the things that matter when trying to reach a specific audience with a particular message. More complex research is needed to identify the true influencers in any given market.

Example Insights: Influencer Research Analysis

I have been in this space for a long time and have started tracking all of the top influencer marketing software tools and applications. I used a combination of a few of them and social media listening software for the below example.

A small part of the below analysis could be done by one of the influencer tools mentioned above. But it wouldn’t be worth spending even $24 a month to get an influencer’s name. There is much more rigor and data analysis to uncover true insights for influencer intelligence.

The first thing I like to do is put together an influencer profile. It’s a snapshot overview of the influencer–who they are, what they talk about, their bio, etc. It gives a holistic view of all the influencer research on one slide.

The influencer profile is similar to a buyer persona, but the information is specific to a real person, in this case, a particular influencer. There is also data and insights into what makes them influential.

Michelle Gomez is not a real person. It’s just the first name that I thought of when I put the analysis together. See below for a real influencer profile and their corresponding information.

There’s a lot of information on these profiles, and it’s important to dissect each piece because each one has a purpose. In the upper left corner are her name, audience size, and her network’s extensive by channel. On the right is her topical relevance. It’s a cluster analysis based on the keywords, phrases, and topics she publishes the most online, whether on social media, blogs, editorial bylines, etc. This tells me what topics are most relevant to her.

You need more than a $99 subscription to an influencer marketing research tool to pull this type of data. But let’s continue with this analysis.

Each box represents volume, so the more significant the box, the larger the conversation volume. She discusses the future workplace, HR, technology, digital transformation, and employee experience. You’ll notice that each box has smaller boxes within each color. These represent subtopics.

Looking at Future Workplace, she talks a lot about the gig economy, remote teams, HR technology, flex, working huddle, room zoom, etc. I analyzed this data before the pandemic, so it makes sense that she would be talking about these topics. Again, these are keywords and phrases she uses on social media.

Moving down to the bottom right corner. These are other influencers that influence Michelle. This data is collected by tracking the content Michelle shares and the individuals she engages with on social media.

Influencer Marketing Research Tool 2022

When I talk about different ways to measure influence, it’s not just about how large their community is or how much engagement they get from their content. I always ask the following question:

Does this influencer get mentioned by any other influencers? The media? Analyst reports? A specific audience?

In this case, the data confirms that she has been mentioned in several HR trade media outlets. I call this data point reference, which tracks whether influencers are “referenced” by other influential audiences.

Right above the media mentions is audience mentions. This is also considered a reference data point. It tracks if a specific audience has mentioned or shared her content over a specified period. This is one of the most important metrics because it validates if a particular influencer is influencing an audience.

Imagine this. You are an HCM vendor and sell your software to HR professionals. They are your audience, your buyers. You build an audience of 8.5K HR professionals ranging from the CHRO, the head of HR, Benefits & Compensation, Recruiters, and leaders of DE&I. You then reference Michele’s social handle or any articles that she’s written over time to see if there is any engagement from your audience research.

Of course, as an HCM vendor, you would probably care less if she’s mentioned randomly by people who follow her. But if she’s mentioned 15,000 times by self-identified HR professionals, that’s a different story.

Now we’re going to transition and look at influencers as a specific group of people versus one influencer profile. There are two visualizations below. The left bar chart represents topically based content sharing by the security influencers. When influencers discuss or share security articles, their go-to media platforms are LinkedIn, Dark Reading, and ZDNet. When they are talking about or sharing content related to artificial intelligence, their go-to media outlets are Forbes, CIO Online, LinkedIn, and DZone.

On the right is a conversation analysis of the top 20 security influencers. When collecting all of the data from each one of their social profiles, we clustered the key phrases and terms and categorized them into topics based on volume. Data security, AI, industry 4.0, automation, and data science are the top themes discussed. This is identical to Michelle’s topical relevance, but in this case, we’re looking at all 20 influencers collectively.

An image of influencer research and their conversations.

This data tells us what topics, trends, and stories are top of mind for the top 20 influencers and where they go online to consume content. If you consider any other influencer marketing research tool on the market today, you will not be able to get more than 5% of what has been shared on this post today. And that 5% is probably just the name of the influencer.

Let’s move on.

We are still tracking the top 20 influencers below, but we are looking at their trending media consumption. From the above example, we already know what topics they’re talking about the most. And in this case, we are looking at that relevancy over 12 months. Are there any topics increasing in relevance? Which ones are decreasing in relevance?

The data tells us that Industry 4.0 is a topic that is trending extremely high among these influencers. Industry 4.0 is this evolution of the digital transformation buzzword that most other influencers and tech audiences have been using over the last decade.

The data also suggests that work’s future has steadily declined since January. This means they’re not using it in any social content they publish online. This also tells me that the future of work isn’t relevant to this audience as it was before.

An image of influencer marketing research trends and analysis.

This analysis helps marketers understand the topics, trends, and stories demanding their audience’s attention. In this case, an audience is a group of influencers or, in many cases, just one influencer. The next logical question that marketers must ask themselves is, “Are we meeting the audience’s demand with our supply of content marketing?” You will need more than a $24 a/month influencer marketing research tool. You’ll need more in-depth influencer analytics to see the true value of your programs.

Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.