Posted | September 19th, 2019

The Sunday Times Influencer List 2019: How They Got it Wrong

The Sunday Times Influencer List 2019: How They Got it Wrong

By Luke Bristow, Director and Head of Client Services

After seeing the Top 100 Influencers list published last weekend in ‘The Sunday Times,’ we couldn’t help but wonder how they could possibly quantify this and whether a list of this nature actually offers any value to marketing professionals.

Aside from the questionable justifications for why certain influencers have or haven’t made the cut, we couldn’t help feeling that the algorithm used to curate the list is intrinsically flawed. It may detail some of the biggest and longest-serving influencers in the game but measuring “prolificness” is a sweeping definition; using audience size, growth and engagement rate is ultimately fairly naive to define them as “top.”

Just because an influencer is savvy about what content to create to harvest those elusive likes and followers, does not necessarily mean that they will be creating content that aligns with a brand’s long- or short-term objectives.

The Sunday Times’ definition of “top influencers” is ultimately overly reductive in its formula and an equally poor point of reference for chief marketing officers or brand-side marketers.

So how could you go about measuring the ‘top 100’ influencers?
The short answer is, you don’t. The “top” influencers are so subjective to a brand’s specific challenges or ambitions that creating a one-size-fits-all list is nonsensical. It is closer to an art than a science at this point.

Whilst the hard metrics certainly give you a good starting point, there are other key factors you should be considering when choosing your brand’s “top” influencers. They need to be an authentic fit for your brand’s message, buy into your brand values, and consistently demonstrate credibility to their audience.

Credibility is the sum of transparency, authenticity, and trust. When reviewing an influencer’s social channels, does it feel like the branded content they produce is part of their lifestyle and not forced around staged scenarios? Is their tone of voice in branded content human and not robotic? Do the branded partnerships they take on feel authentic to their channels and previous content?

This is what drives true consideration and action from their communities (or a brand’s target audience). Although the main prerogative on a brand’s mind always reaches metrics, it should be finding influencers who authentically and credibly align with their creative strategy and message.

A truly credible influencer will be looking to move away from one-off partnerships for a product, event, stunt and be looking more towards long-term relationships to promote the brands that they truly love or have a natural affinity with – and this simply can’t be quantified in a list.

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