Ryan immediately answered the opening question to what Katharine’s heard others ask: Is it AI or is it BS? “It’s augmented intelligence.”
Influential uses machine learning, or augmented intelligence, to help marketers sift through the trillions of interactions across all social platforms to find and execute the most effective uses. That can take the form of creating an MPAA-like ratings system for influencers out there in the era of greater scrutiny from marketers (Unilever’s Keith Weed made this one of his major talking points at Cannes last year). “We’re the NSA for influencers,” says Ryan, adding that Influential can sniff out influencers’ bad behavior or violations of their contracts (as in showing up in social media holding a Coke can if you’re under contract with Pepsi) and other no-nos. It led to the creation of the I-Score, which we partnered with Ryan to launch almost a year ago. “We wanted to make sure what happened in programmatic didn’t happen in social,” he cautions.
It also turns out that size doesn’t always matter in this field. Ryan believes sometimes a brand is better off going with a micro influencer than a mega-name, because the micro often has a more engaged and committed following that delivers more effectively for the client. Just as important: one-and-done almost never works in influencer marketing. Ryan encourages teams to approach the discipline with a fleshed-out media buy to support it, either through sponsored posts or in-person appearances.
The bottom line is, influencer marketing is staking a claim for the long haul, and any help we can get to suss out the players and the strategies, the better. The numbers of interactions are staggeringly huge, which is why the aid of machines is so vital to evaluating properly for our clients.