How to Build a Social Media Influencer Plan

Professor Brings Real-time Skills to Marketing Students


“It is hard to make a syllabus for marketing classes at Golden Gate University because the medium changes from week to week,” says Adjunct Professor and alumnus Michael Brito (MS, Marketing ’08). For example, just two weeks before he was interviewed for this blog post, Instagram introduced a product for businesses that rates social media influencers. Brito explains: “You can click on Instagram accounts and see who they are, how long they have been on the platform, or if they ever changed their handle. This is important because people buy followers, which distorts the marketer’s ability to identify industry influencers.”

Brito, who is currently Executive Vice President of Digital & Technology at Zeno Group, brings fresh knowledge like this to courses at GGU’s downtown San Francisco campus:

“I give students direct access to digital marketing and social media plans and presentations, some that I presented to clients earlier that day.  It’s a real-time knowledge transfer. Silicon Valley is in the mecca of technology innovation, so we hear marketing tactics first and use them first. Being actually in San Francisco provides students with the right education — especially in digital marketing.”

Michael Brito

Elements of a social media influencer campaign

With the Instagram story fresh in his mind, we asked Brito to describe a social media influencer campaign. Brito says: “Our firm has a high degree of investment in influencer marketing programs because consumers trust third parties.” The principles on influencer campaign are the same, says Brito, whether he is working with his current clients in the B2B technology space, consumer foods, fashion, or health care.  Another commonality is that “in the U.S. buyers use Google as the search constant.”

Identifying the Right Influencers

Brito values the 1:9:90 Model of Influence, which states that 1% of a given market creates content, 9% re-package that content and share it with their followers,  and 90% consume it. The 1% are influencers. Without this targeting, a social media campaign can be a waste of money. “In the past,” says Brito, “the 1% were purely analysts, but that changed in last ten years with the democratization of social media. Anyone can be a publisher: technology enthusiasts, bloggers, or product users.”

The first step in finding influencers is searching based on the topics or categories that interest them. Brito’s team researches their behaviors: What do they read? BuzzFeed? CNET? Wired?  Brito also investigates what influencers are writing for keywords and hashtags.

Twitter, Blogs, and Other Platforms

Twitter is the best social media platform for reaching influencers, says Brito, especially when tweets inspire replies. Although LinkedIn is number one for B2B-related content, it is not where more meaty conversations happen or where the actual content lives. In the same way, most tweets present links to valuable content outside Twitter.

Forums like Reddit and Stack Overflow are destinations where tech influencers spend time reading and sharing technical content. Facebook even has some tech conversations but is dominated by news.

Consumer influencers are using Snapchat and Instagram where they post more lifestyle-focused content. When these influencers are hired by brands, they are usually posting the product alongside their normal cadence of photography and videos. (Brito has created an excellent resource that highlights the key differences between influencer marketing for consumer and B2B brands.)

Software Tools of the Trade

Onalytica is an influencer platform tool that is a good starting point for identifying influencers. At Brito’s agency, they typically use Crimson Hexagon for social intelligence and to measure brand sentiment for clients. Sentiment can be tricky because colloquialisms (Brito mentions “That shit is lit!”) may have positive or negative meanings based on context. A number of social media platforms exist for social and audience intelligence as well as identifying influencers.

Content Marketing

A major piece of a campaign is targeting influencers with relevant content. Research reports, surveys, white papers, eBooks, and other types of creative content typically work the best. Video, on the other hand, is the number-one type of media that people consume. In fact, 100 million hours of video are watched each day on Facebook, according to TechCrunch.

Once you bring influencers and actual prospects into the CRM “email ecosystem” (such as Hubspot) through a download of content, you reach a major milestone in moving the prospect along the buyer’s journey – from those researching a topic through influencers, to those considering options, to those engaging in a sales process.

Starting a Conversation In Real Life

IRL relationships with influencers are part of these plans, which include inviting them to industry and customer events, asking them to participate in focus groups, or having them meet with a key executive. Offline relationships are sometimes even more important than those established solely online.

Measuring Outcomes and ROI

In the B2B technology space, influencer-program success is measured by the creation of large opportunities for sales. For consumer markets as well, KPIs include brand awareness (at the lowest level) and engagement with shares and comments (at a higher level). The most impactful measure is sales interactions, which Brito describes as “our ultimate KPI.”

More About Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a digital strategist and speaker who serves as Executive Vice President, Digital & Technology at Zeno Group. He is the author of books social media marketing, branding, and participation marketing and has published articles Forbes, Adweek, and other national publications. You can check out his TEDx talk on

Request information about marketing programs at Golden Gate University.

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