How to build a community of influencers from within – lessons for Tourism KZN

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | South Africa | Tourism Kwazulu-Natal KZN | Twitter followers | Community of Influencers | June 2021 - banner-4

Let me take a bet.

When you hear the word influencer marketing, the default thought is that you are “renting” someone’s online status to amplify your brand’s campaign, but who is probably not part of the brand’s online community. Right?

Let me keep going.

More often than not, when you rent the online status you are not thinking too deeply about whether the identified “influential” person has an existing relationship with your brand in any major way, or shares similar interests with it. Right again? 

What if the two bets above were actually primary requirements for your brand’s influencer marketing strategy

Emerging digital platforms will gain more importance within holistic communication strategies and overall media planning, as brands embrace more authentic and direct ways to engage with consumers. Influencers will be seen as a long-term strategic opportunity, rather than just a short-term tactic.

Well, the two bets above inspired this eNsight. 

Table of Contents

What is an influencer?

The definition of an influencer is in order, to set the context.

In general terms, someone who, through their words and/or actions, has the potential to cause others to take a specified action, is called an influencer. 

In this era of social media, there are several archetypes of an influencer, and the following three come to my mind:

In no particular order, here is the first type a loudmouth who speaks their mind and gets the attention of other social networkers as a result.

You can call this type of influencer the attention seeker. Can you think of anyone?

The second type is an influencer who is making or has made waves in their lives.  

Zozibini Tunzi – Miss South Africa 2019 who also became Miss Universe in the same year, is a perfect example of this type of influencer.

There is also a young South African actress who broke into the big league very recently, and trended on Twitter. Remember her name?

The third type is someone who builds reputation for posting  content that evokes emotions, and thus response from and following by others.

The two examples that come to mind are Man’s NOT Barry Roux (or does he/she/they fall under the first type?) and Caspar Lee – the Youtube star who I claim as South African but probably sees himself more as a global citizen.

RELATED ENSIGHT:

Influencer marketing: 4 guidelines to turn it into strategy

The reality tv family whose members became mega influencers on social media

While at the beginning of penning this eNsight (11 June), I cast an eye on a BBC report about the end of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, apparently the longest running reality tv show of all time.

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | KwaZulu-Natal | Tourism | Community of Influencers | The Kardashians Finale | Social Media | June 2021 -1
eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | KwaZulu-Natal | Tourism | Community of Influencers | The Kardashians Finale | Social Media | June 2021 -2

According to this Brandwatch blog, Kim Kardashian West and all her sisters are in the top 20 on Instagram by number of followers. 

The value of influencers to brands

It is an accepted fact that influencers can be good for a brand.

Nike’s long-standing association with world-famous athletes across many sporting codes, and its resultant dominance as a leading sport apparel brand, bears testimony to this fact. 

In 1984, Nike teamed up with Michael Jordan to launch Jordan Brand, a brand of shoes and athletic wear built around the player. At the time, Nike was a struggling brand selling running shoes with an idea to reinvent itself as a company for athletic stars.

To this day, Michael Jordan, who since retired from the NBA in 2003, still has the commercial relationship with Nike, related to the Air Jordan brand.

In addition, the swoosh brand is still linked to Tiger Woods.

Yes, you are spot on. This is a unique blend of influencer marketing, but Nike does not have exclusivity rights over it.

Building a community of influencers from within

Now that I have provided the definition of an influencer, and touched on their value in  building brands, I want to turn to the science of building a community of influencers.

As I do so, feel free to refer back to the two bets that I started this eNsight with.

Tourism is on my mind, so I shall demonstrate how this can be done using social media followers of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal Authority (aka Tourism KZN, or the authority).

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | KwaZulu-Natal | Tourism | Community of Influencers | Social Media | June 2021

Why the choice of KwaZulu-Natal Province for demonstrating how to build a community of influencers?

I admit, KZN is my first choice for domestic destinations.

In fact, this province has become part of my family’s annual sojourns over many years now.

Sadly though, 70% of our visits have been to Durban. We have not ventured out to the many other areas of the Province, something that we plan to address with our next trip. 

In addition to my obvious bias due to my love for this Province, I became aware that Tourism KZN has been running what I consider an influencer marketing campaign in the last few months, exemplified by social media posts mentioning Unathi Nkayi (in March) Cassper Nyovest (in April), Reggie Philander (in May) and Zozibini Tunzi (in June).

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How Gautrain gave away "the new oil" opportunity with the bank card payment option

Two questions came to mind regarding the influencer marketing campaign:

  • What criteria did Tourism KZN use to select the celebrities they have been using in the current campaign?
  • Did the criteria include the fact that the participating celebrities have to be part of Tourism KZN’s social media community?

I could not find answers to the questions, because I do not know somebody who knows somebody at Tourism KZN :)

None the less, the two reasons above are sufficient for choosing this tourism authority as a protagonist for this eNsight.

eNitiate's relationship with the tourism sector

At eNitiate, sibuya kude ngalendaba ye-tourism (#GoogleTranslate).

Here’s proof:

  • eNitiate participated in the 2014 and 2015 #MeetSouthAfrica Twitter campaigns, both build-ups to the Tourism Indaba conferences of the respective years.
  • In addition, I represented the company at the Tourism Indaba 2016 in Durban.
  • The company also participated in the Tourism Month 2016. 

In all the four instances mentioned above, the eNitiaters tracked and analysed Twitter mentions, and shared valuable insights.

Some of the bloggers who were part of the #MeetSouthAfrica campaigns liked the shared insight so much they responded favourably.

For the record, eNitiate’s participation was strictly #CountryDuty, okay?

So yes, we are not abo-Mafikizolo in the tourism social media marketing space.

Top 3 social networks for Tourism KZN

As at the 11th of June 2021, here are the top three social networks for Tourism KZN, based on the size of followers: 

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Twitter has the 3rd largest number of followers for Tourism KZN, but the size of the community is not too shabby.

This social network will serve as the proxy for the demonstration of building of a community of influencers from within.

Why?

Because, the demonstration that is to follow shortly requires analysis of follower profiles, and Twitter continues to be the most generous social network for access of comprehensive user data by third parties.

Tourism KZN's current tweeting style under the microscope

Granted, influencer marketing has become one of the tactics for any brand that is looking to achieve mainly short-term objectives such as clicks, leads or sales conversion.

However, a brand that is in the long game of building strong online credentials that will lead to sustainable achievement of its goals needs to also build a community of active, committed members, some of whom will ultimately become its advocates.

A brand’s tweeting style can indicate if its focus is on building a community of advocates.

Let me use Tourism KZN to illustrate how a brand’s tweeting style can tell a lot about its focus.

The graph above captures  how Tourism KZN normally tweets, overall daily volume of tweets, active hours of the day, peak tweeting hours, and broadcasting vs engagement patterns.

More precisely, for every 100 tweets Tourism KZN posts, 63 tend to be RT’s, 35 are broadcast tweets that do not mention other accounts ([email protected] tweets), and only 2 are broadcast tweets that mention other accounts (@contact tweets).

The contribution of retweets indicates that there is a lot of user-generated content about Tourism KZN’s destinations and related offerings, and that the authority is doing its bit to amplify the content.

This type of tweeting style implies that Tourism KZN is focused on achieving reach.

The small contribution of  @Contact tweets leaves me with an impression that the authority is not focused on building strong relationships with its Twitter community.

Is the impression I am getting from my analysis of Tourism KZN’s tweeting style wrong?

Let me scratch the surface a bit more to confirm or debunk it. 

So, let’s jump right in.

Identification of Tourism KZN's Twitter followers that qualify as influencers

Given the definition of an influencer that I have provided, it is time to identify influencers from the 16,628  followers of Tourism KZN.

I also intend to demonstrate that the identified influencers can be segmented into sub-groups to assist the authority in leveraging its relationship with them more effectively, using selected metrics that I deem to be relevant.

Segmentation of Tourism KZN's Twitter followers

The primary segmentation criterion is Social Authority score – a metric that tracks the extent to which a Tweeter’s content elicits engagement (favourites, retweets, replies) by others on this microblog, on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 100 (highest). 

The  higher the score, the more influential the follower is.

Note that the social authority score algorithm does not include number of followers of a Tweeter, although there tends to be an indirect correlation between engagement and the number of followers.

Next, I use four additional criteria for further segmentation of the influencers found in Tourism KZN’s Twitter community. 

RELATED ENSIGHT:

#MeetSouthAfrica 2015 campaign maintains momentum

Here are the five segments:

  1. Identification of influencers, based on social authority scores of 51 and above
  2. Of the followers within the specified social authority score range, those that are most active, based on the last 30 days of tweeting
  3. Of the followers within the specified social authority score range, those that show higher propensity to be connected to published content, and/or to have affinity for brands
  4. Of the followers within the specified social authority score range, those that publish content with a high % of links?
  5. The gender profiles of the followers within the specified social authority score range?

Time to determine the segments above from the 16,628 Twitter followers of Tourism KZN.

Join me. 

1. How many Tourism KZN's Twitter followers qualify as influencers, based on social authority score of 51 and above?

The determination of minimum social authority score of 51 for a follower to qualify as an influencer is based solely on my 12 years of digital marketing experience.

While I do concede that the choice of the chosen minimum score is not perfect science, I am happy with my decision.

As the screenshot here below shows, Tourism KZN’s social authority score is 61.

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | South Africa | Tourism Kwazulu-Natal KZN | Social Authority Score | June 2021

To answer question 1 as per the sub-title, I share analysis of social authority scores of Tourism KZN’s 16,628 Twitter followers, presented in a Pie chart below. 

As the Pie chart above shows, Tourism KZN has one follower with social authority score in the 91-100 range. See the name in Table 1 below.

In total, 1,276 followers  have a social authority score of 51 and above.

In essence, Tourism KZN has a potential to build a community of influencers with maximum 8% of its total follower base. 

The top 10 influencers, in descending order of social authority score, can be found in the table below.

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | South Africa | Tourism Kwazulu-Natal KZN | Twitter followers | Social Authority Scores | Community of Influencers | June 2021 - banner
Table 1: TKZN's Twitter Followers with Social Autority Scores of 51 and above

I spotted the self-declared SA’s Tourism Specialist in Table 1 – Tshepang Lobete, who already posts about Tourism KZN’s destinations, and whose content is being RT’d by the authority.

It is worth pointing out that Tourism KZN has not engaged Tshepang beyond the response above, and other than RT’ing his tweets related to the Province’s destinations.

Is there a case for the authority to do more?

And the social authority scores of celebrities that have participated in Tourism KZN's influencer marketing campaign?

Here are the social authority scores for three of them, in descending order:

Social Authority Scores: Celebrities that have participated in TKZN's Influencer Marketing Campaign

2. How many Tourism KZN's Twitter followers are most active, based on the last 30 days of tweeting?

I use this metric, which is also called tweeting recency, to identify Tourism KZN’s  Twitter followers that are most active on this platform.

The last 30 days is a good measure of the extent of being active.

I consider any Tweeter who is not active for more than 30 days on this fast-paced platform to be dormant, or a bot.

Here are the results for Tourism KZN’s 16,628 Twitter folowers:

6,129 Tourism KZN followers (37%) of Tourism KZN followers tweeted in the last 30 days. 

The sweet spot is the 4.4K followers (27%) who tweeted in the last seven days, which number will be cut back when minimum social authority score of 51 and above is aded to this metric.

Table 2 displays a sample of followers with high social authority scores, where I spotted 2 influencers who are self-declared travel enthusiasts – one of them already stays within the KZN  Province, and one is fairly well-known in the travel blogging space.

Take a look.

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | South Africa | Tourism Kwazulu-Natal KZN | Twitter followers | Tweet Recencies | Community of Influencers | June 2021 - banner
Table 2: TKZN's Twitter Followers Who Were Active in The Last 30 Days

According to a Twitter Search reports, Tourism KZN last mentioned @AneesaV8 in 2016, and has never mentioned MsLeloB.

See what the authority is missing from the Podcaster of “SA’s #1 Travel Podcast”:

3. How many Tourism KZN's Twitter followers show higher propensity to be connected to published content, and/or to have affinity for brands?

There are two metrics in this question – ENGAGEMENT and AFFINITY.

The ENGAGEMENT metric tends to have different interpretations. That is the beauty of social media.

The broad, all-encompassing description of engagement includes favourites, likes, shares, RT’s, comments and replies.

Here are my descriptions within the broad framework above, specific to Twitter:

  • A Favourite indicates acknowledgement. Someone is saying “I see you”.
  • A retweet indicates interest in the published content.
  • A reply or a quote tweet indicates connection with the published content. Someone is moved by the viewed content, and they feel compelled to respond

NOTE: quote tweet stats are not yet captured separately on the analytics that I am using for this eNsight. These are lumped together with retweet stats at the moment.

This segment is for followers of Tourism KZN who show a deep connection with published Twitter content that gets them to post replies, and/or show affinity by mentioning chosen handles in their tweets.

Such followers will be identified by their published tweets with @contacts. 

Again for the purpose of this segmentation, I am interested in the followers with minimum 25% of published tweets with @contacts.

Only 553 followers (3.3%) of Tourism KZN use @contacts in minimum 25% of their tweets. 

So far, this is the smallest segment. And it will become even smaller when the social authority score of minimum 50 is added.

Here is a selection of followers who lead with @contact tweets:

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | South Africa | Tourism Kwazulu-Natal KZN | Twitter followers | @contacts tweets | Community of Influencers | June 2021 - banner
Table 3: TKZN's Twitter Followers With Highest % of @Contacts in Their Tweets

Notice any names in the table above that already appeared in at least one of the previous two segments, as per Tables 1 and 2?

As it so happens, @MsLeloB – highlighted in Table 2 – also has a high % of tweets with @contacts.

4. How many Tourism KZN's Twitter followers publish content with a high % of links?

I view Tweeters who share links in their tweets as those who believe they have valuable content in a longer form than 280 characters to share, which may be theirs or someone else’s. 

Bloggers and keen online readers fall in this segment.

This group of followers would be valuable for spreading Tourism KZN’s links to the site, blogs, holiday specials and the likes.

Using the criterion – followers with minimum 25% of tweets with links, what is the size of this segment?

Let’s check.

Maximum 1,067 Tourism KZN followers qualify to be part of this segment.

Bear in mind that the size of this segment will be reduced when I add the minimum social authority score of 50 criterion.

Here is a selection of the followers in this segment:

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | South Africa | Tourism Kwazulu-Natal KZN | Twitter followers | Tweets with url's | Community of Influencers | June 2021
Table 4: Tourism KZN Followers with Minimum 25% Links in Their Tweets

You may wonder why I picked AmaZulu FC of all the selected Tourism KZN followers in Table 4.

Simply, it is because I believe The Zulu Kingdom is up for the most exciting sporting events in the coming rugby and football seasons. EVER!

Here is why:

Is Tourism KZN ready for the coming bumper sporting events season 2021/2022?

Has Tourism KZN been engaged in the developments through social media interactions with the clubs, the officials and the relevant players that have the pull factor?

What do you think?

5. What are the gender profiles of Tourism KZN followers?

This segment is most useful when there are campaigns that are gender-specific, e.g. mother’s day, father’s day and women’s month/day.

I am aware that Tourism KZN actually ran a mother’s day campaign in May, and is also currently running a father’s day campaign that will end on 20 June.

Here goes.

As the Pie chart above shows, in the context of the current father’s day campaign, there are 1,847 males in the Tourism KZN Twitter community who can qualify as influencers, according to a social authority score of minimum 50. 

Here is the 11 top male list, based on descending social authority scores:

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | South Africa | Tourism Kwazulu-Natal KZN | Twitter followers | Top 11 Male Followers | Community of Influencers | June 2021 - banner
Table 5: Tourism KZN Male Followers | Top 11 Based on Descending Social Authority Scores

Just for fun, I picked a Tourism KZN follower in Table 5 who has a peculiar name – Cyril Zuma – if you follow the politics of South Africa.

This influencer, based on his social authority score of 77, is also a Commercial Photographer – a kind of profile that can be leveraged in engaging him about father’s day campaign.

Note also that Cyril Zuma’s % of tweets with @contacts is high. Therefore, the propensity for him to reply to Tourism KZN’s tweets that mentio him is high.

Does a brand need more than five segments in building a community of influencers from within?

The answer is “it depends”. 

The Twitter follower data that can be accessed allow for splicing and dicing thereof to a brand’s heart’s content, including according to geographies and follower bios.

However, this will take more effort and time, and can lead to analysis paralysis.

Thus, brands need to weigh the costs and benefits of further segmentation of their Twitter followers. 

RELATED ENSIGHT:

Influencer marketing: how brands can drive wrong behaviours

Bringing it all together

I hope I have demonstrated that brands with social media followers can build their own communities of influencers from within, using Tourism KZN as a protagonist.

The biggest benefit with this approach is that the brands that have identified and segmented influencers according to specified social authority scores and related metrics can be more targeted in the leveraging such followers for strengthening relationships and thereby achieving sustainable goals.

Lessons for Tourism KZN

Analysis of Tourism KZN’s tweeting style and current influencer campaign, together with analysis of profiles and tweeting habits of its 16,628 Twitter followers, indicate that the authority is not (fully) leveraging the relationship with the followers who have influence, and some of whom are already active in the tourism industry.

I am hoping that this eNsight will open the eyes of other brands to the potential of their communities, and they will seek help in segmenting their followers for targeted and effective engagements that will yield sustainable results.

WARNING

This type of exercise takes time and effort, and elements of trial and error.

Thus, brands must not expect quick results. 

RELATED ENSIGHT:

Influencer marketing: selecting the best match for your brand

And what follower analytics tool did I use in this eNsight?

Ask me here.

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