The 1:9:90 influencer model was first coined in 2006 by Charles Arthur, who said that for every group of 100 people online that create content, 10 will engage with it and 90 will just view or read it. This influencer framework should not be confused with the McKinsey Influence Model from 2016. That model is based on change management, not influencer marketing.
The same thinking could be said for influencers but there are a lot more variables to consider with influencer segmentation and research. The most important thing to think about when we talk about any social influence model is that it’s dependent upon a particular topic or market.
First, a market is an economy. There are hundreds if not thousands of markets and submarkets. For example, on the consumer side, there are markets that are targeting pregnant women. There are also markets targeting men who are expecting their wives to give birth soon. There is the diaper market, luxury home market, new car market, housing market and thousands of other markets in between.
For B2B and tech companies, the markets are a little bit different, and this is also where topical based markets come into play. There is a software market, data science market, AI market. There’s also the enterprise market and the SMB market.
The influencer model we are discussing today is based on these topics and or markets. With that said, in every market (and topic), the top 1% of people in that market are influencers. The 9% of the people in that market are promoters and the rest, which is the 90%, are the lurkers.
Here’s a breakdown of the behaviors of the 1:9:90 influencer model
The 1%: Influencers
Back in the day before the Internet, this was the media. And when I say the media, I mean the actual media companies and not necessarily the journalists who write the articles. Overtime journalists did gain influence and still today represent that top 1%.
But as the Internet has become more democratized and social media has allowed everyone to be a content creator, the top 1% in any market represent just that. Journalists, analyst, and anybody else who has a point of view and the following online make up the 1%. Remember, this influencer marketing model is fluid. just because one person is an influencer around the topic of digital transformation, doesn’t mean they have the same level of influence for business and innovation.
When these influencers speak, people listen. When they write and publish, people share and engage. One thing to note here is that influencer content will always appear in the Google results, assuming they are influential in the topic or subject matter. Also, there are several influencer marketing platforms & reporting software tools that can track paid programs when engaging with the 1%.
The 9%: Promoters
The top 9% represented within the social influence model are called promoters. Don’t get me wrong, they are also influential, they just don’t have as large audiences and they’re not really drive any conversation or thought leadership.
Their behavior is interesting. This group shares influencer content but they repackage it in different ways and provide their own context or take on the subject matter at hand. I don’t mean this in a negative way. They’re not necessarily taking the credit for the thought leadership of the 1%, they are simply providing their point of view on it.
The 90%: Lurkers
The 90% of this market are what I call lurkers. These are the people that don’t necessarily participate in any social media conversations or behavior. They aren’t creating any content. They aren’t engaging or sharing content. All they do is scroll through their feeds and read. They use Google for everything, especially when they are doing research about a particular topic or subject matter.
When it comes to buying behavior or reputation, the 90% rely heavily on the point of view of the 1% and the 9%.
Why This Influencer Model Works
For B2B social media marketing programs, influencers will play a critical role in reaching B2B buyers as they are navigating the Internet and researching products and services. With influencer segmentation, marketers can create custom programming which should be tailored to the 1%, 9%, and 90%.
In other words, the way you reach and engage the 90% is not the same way you would reach and engage the 1%. My opinion is that if you target the 1% and the 9% with specific marketing programs, you won’t have to worry about everyone else because the influencers and promoters will do your job for you.
Influencer Marketing Resources
Below you will find some helpful content for you as begin to take your B2B influencer marketing journey. There is not a lot of really good information available on the Internet, so I’ve tried my best to consolidate what I think is most important.
Here is a quick video and write up of some of my thoughts about the influencer marketing software available on the market today. The vendors that I typically write about are more for B2B and enterprise companies versus consumer brands. However, all brand influencer programs have some commonalties that you can learn from.
Measuring influence needs to be a priority. Remember, it’s not just about measuring the performance of an influencer campaign, but also how you are using data to identify the most relevant influencers for your business.
Here are five influencer marketing trends that you should keep top of mind moving into 2022. Influencer marketing is a huge business and it’s only growing.
It’s not good practice to manage influencer programs in a silo. It’s better to ensure that your program is fully integrated into your larger B2B social media marketing plan.