Universal McCann discusses the rise of "a new breed of super influencers" that has been created by "the tools of the social media revolution." Before we all don our superhero capes, let's look more closely at the findings of the report.A new report from
Entitled When did we start trusting strangers? How the internet turned us all into influencers, the premise is that influence was moved beyond "professional and top down" (mainstream media) and into Web-enabled peer to peer influence. But despite McCann calling this a "democratisation of influence", all influencers are not equal. There are "super influencers" who are "extremely heavy users of social media, particularly in terms of content creation." Are you one of these people? Let's check out what the characteristics are...
The research was completed among 17,000 active internet users in 29 countries, according to McCann.
Who Are The Super Influencers?
Super influencers are heavy social media users, who also "fit the typical profile of early adopters who are likely to try new products, take risks and share their opinions with friends."
But it's important to note straight away that it's not just about tech. The report lists a number of different categories where people can be super influencers:
It's common for people to be influential over a range of these categories. The peak of influence is said to be around 12-14 categories, much higher than was possible before the Web.
However, it's unsurprising to learn that the so-called super influencers are "more likely to be male, 25-34 and be mid or senior influential office workers." They are also more likely to be highly educated. The report puts this down to "in the knowledge heavy, written world of the web, intelligence and computer literacy are major factors in spreading significant influence."
Of course we hope that over time super influencers will include a wider representation of people.
As for their activities, we've seen variations of the following chart before. Basically they blog a lot, use social networks, upload photos and videos, and so on:
Influencing in The Real World Too
McCann notes that super influencers are making their presence felt in mainstream life. Perhaps a little too boldly, the report claims that super influencers "helped Obama get the democratic party nomination." The report states that they did so through "prolific blogging, twittering, social networking and content creation", which generated massive influence and helped to raise funds, get people out to vote and change the opinions of mainstream media.
We're not so sure that Twittering for Obama helped get him the nomination. We're all fans of Twitter here, but it's still very very niche. The fact that the RWW Ed has more FriendFeed subscribers than Obama, tells you something about its usage in the real world (and the Ed doesn't use FriendFeed that much). fwiw Marshall Kirkpatrick is top RWW writer in those rankings, at #24.
We are pleased to note however that, according to page 10 of the report, super influencers are likely to read ReadWriteWeb ;-)
It's perhaps not all good news for super influencers. The report also claims that super influencers are "much more likely to be motivated by overt commercial messaging [and] celebrity endorsements". I guess that explains the presence of punk'd star Ashton Kutcher and washed up rapper Hammer at TC50!
Finally, super influencers are a worldwide phenonomen, according to McCann, but "there is a clear skew towards the emerging internet markets of Latin America and Asia Pacific." Brazil has the highest rate of super influencers, with 24% of active internet users falling into the super influencer category. They are followed by India, Mexico and Pakistan, which McCann puts down to "how internet users have found their voice thanks to their massive use of social media in these markets."
There is a lot more to this report than the super influencer data points. The report is bullish on influencers in general: "overall participation rates for contributing opinions, thoughts and content on products and brands is extremely high." McCann recommends that "all brands have to react to the influence economy - becoming more open, more transparent and more active in social and conversational media".
There's nothing really new in the report - we've known for a while now that social media is being used to create new forms of influence in the commercial and social worlds. But there's good lessons here for brands and organizations that are still figuring out how to reach consumers in the Web age.
Also we're hopeful that the super influencer demographic will become a bit more representative, over time. Here at ReadWriteWeb we try to encourage the use of the very latest web technologies in The Real World - for example see our overview of the recent DEMOfall08 conference, which we felt showcased some promising real world applications. We hope that trend continues too.
So, now that you know what makes up a Super Influencer - are you one of them? Tell us in the comments...