Influence in the Age of Interest

Influence is born out of interest, not age. In an era of extreme access to information, where “tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day,” (Source: Google) there has been a shift away from generational norms and towards spheres of influence. Society has evolved to a state where people connect based on interests and personal identity, not age or demographic.

“While previous generations grew up in a global economy, Gen Z (1995-) developed a global state of mind.” (Source: TrendWolves) In fact, “kids today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country.” (Source: George Beall) We can still find many similarities amongst members of earlier generations — Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Millenials — but as marketers are inevitably marching towards a focus on Gen Z, they are finding that the unifying characteristic of this cohort is just how different they all are, and how comfortable they are with their life choices.

For marketers, this means a shift from segmenting based on traditional demographics — age, gender, geography, occupation, income — to understanding mindset, interest groups, micro-trends and new definitions of “relationships.” They must consider what people think and feel before thinking about who they are. A new type of consumer has emerged — the Perennial. These are “people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages.” (Source: TheWhat)

Appreciating this distinction is critical because brands’ marketing strategies can no longer be founded upon assumptions based on demographic averages. Effective segmentation requires a shift from a demographic to psychographic approach, as our ability to connect with others whose passions exactly match ours creates microcosms of interest groups. Consumers expect authenticity and transparency based upon what they like and what they want at a given moment. “When a brand is genuine, it doesn’t have to create genuine connections; its connections are genuine by their very nature.” (Source: Forbes)

This leads us to consider the definition of influencer. If an influencer is “a person who has the power to influence many people,” (Source: Dictionary.com) then everyone with a device and a social presence has the ability to be an influencer. This presents a huge opportunity for brands to connect with people who are already highly engaged with their product or service category. It is no longer a pure numbers game defined by how many people you reach with a celebrity in a TV spot, but by the quality of interactions generated with your brand.

The value of influencer marketing is therefore not strictly measured by size of audience reached, but by “how an influencer impacts their audience and who exactly [that] influencer is influencing.” (Source: Traackr) So for the 83% of marketers whose top priority is to “identify and build one-on-one relationships with key industry influencers,” (source: TopRank and Traackr) this means finding the people who are passionate about your category, are already engaged, and have an existing audience.

Finding these influencers isn’t difficult; they are already involved with your brand. You just have to dig deeper and segment your audience more finely to find the real influencers. They already have the voice, the passion and the following you need to propel your brand. Harness the power of every one of those relationships, capture authentic content at scale, enable brand advocacy, and watch your business grow.