Twitter ‘A-Listers’ and Influencer Campaigns: The Dark Side of the Industry

Twitter A listers and Influencer campaigns

The spate of replies, leading to storify made for a brief blogpost. You can read it here.

There seems to have been a wide gap from the way people perceived the word ‘A Lister’

I think I was pretty clear and concise in asking the question – What according to you is an ‘A Lister’ on twitter.

Some vague assumptions:

  1. The community felt I was joking.
  2. The question was irrelevant in their & their brands scheme of things.
  3. It was better to be diplomatic/politically correct on a public forum.
  4. I asked the Q for 2 days and to the SM agencies repeatedly on the 3rd day, given the fact that everybody is not 24/7 on Twitter and finally tagged a few, who responded also.
  5. Over the period the Q was amplified reaching 25x (based solely on RT)

The Social stalwarts responded

A Twitter A lister is one who gets 100 responses for any/every tweet. Large numbers of followers, active & defined sphere of expertise/influence. Large sphere of influence and visibility.

Original POV, wide audience, super interesting content. (Most A listers participate on their own initiative, if they find something to their taste. You can’t sell to them)

Many Factors might come into consideration. Plus cannot have one final list. You might influence a different crowd, I might influence another Agree with rest. Also A – Anaggh, your kind of elite people basically.

Coming from a Brand perspective, all of this makes sense – Reach, Relevance, Original, Content = Perfect. Based on this, the Agencies have a clear brief and so they dig into their ‘A/B/C’ or NoiseMaker List and roll out the strategy/tactic as may be required.

But, that does not seem to be the case – There is just noise and amplified many times by HashTags; Trending; Contests focusing on ‘Reach’ only with no thought of Relevance & Engagement.

When I flip it over to the consumers/engager side and pickup some of the answers:

Someone who tweets their mind, adding value to conversations when they can, no matter how inane they might be. Most important factors are reach and relevancy. Followers don’t count, celeb status doesn’t matter. Content is king.

Someone who has over a few 000s followers, tweets specific topics and is approachable. Decent follower count who likes to converse, who can influence knowledgeably, serious opinion leader. Does not promote commercially.

A node, an opinion leader, who is anointed as one by RTs, Fav, Replies within their communities of influence.

When you compare both, it is clear both sides want the same thing, words may be different.

The lists seem to be generic for everything/everyone, is the motto

Duniya bikti hai, khareedar chahiye

Nobody seems to be winning this game –

BRANDS seem to be pushing ‘Digital’ as a part of the manager’s KRA.

AGENCIES seem to be in the immediate survival mode, trying to keep client happy in the short term most of the time.

CONSUMERS seem to have realised the ‘POWER’ of digital/social – If you make enough noise, you will get some reward/gift/freebie – so Bring it on.

In order to be more clear about my POV, let me share my example –

  • I am not anonymous on Twitter or any other digital platform.
  • I try to write some blog posts once in a while, which I read mostly.
  • I have never hidden my work, hobbies, love, interests etc.

In spite of all this, I fail to understand how I have ended up on some of these so called ‘A’ to ‘Z’ lists because, I regularly seem to

  • Receive an offer to participate in a contest for a voucher for 500/-
  • Visit a newly opened store, restaurant free for a meal.
  • Last minute invites to some show etc

A quick ‘Google search’ would solve your problem and you would never invite me to unrelated stuff asking me to tweet to my 000s of followers.

As an Agency friend tried consoling me – “It would be quite a feather in their cap, if you attended” I reacted saying for Bleddy 500/-? At least it should be lucrative if I’m getting in that business.

As a SM head has mentioned above – A listers participate on their own initiative, you can’t sell to them. True, but you can engage with them and keep them engaged. This does not happen when Brands think broadcasting is engagement.

But yes, there are lots of handles, who probably do that and are happy doing it, but what kind of relevance is that for the Brand, long term?

Then there are the micro saddlers who are willing to work for a fee! Nice, do they need to tell their followers or does the brand need to announce? In the past no, today it seems to be the case, to whip up frenzy.

Where does all this lead to finally?

  • A generic list which transfers across agencies
  • Mostly similar contests and interactions
  • Mostly the same person or people from the same group attending/winning
  • The actual ‘A’mplification does not go beyond the group. Actual engagers, users, buyers have already tuned out the noise and are looking at different channels.
  • Becomes like an active/engaging advertisement online for fraction of the cost.
  • Long term engagement – Maybe.
  • Ambassador/Maven – Maybe
  • Loyalty – As long as there is a constant freebie involved.

There are exceptions to this, but they seem to be tactical rather than focused.

Influence engagement was always a dirty game and this seems to have rubbed off here too. More like the dark side of the Social Media industry.

Maybe the medium needs to grow, but then hey, it has been 4-5 years and in this space that is a couple of decades, right.

My personal ‘A’ Lister

  1. Relevance – Topic, content, engagement
  2. Response
  3. Opinion leader who is willing to understand & accept different perspectives
  4. Willing to learn/share
  5. Build relationship/s – accepting people change.
  6. Be upfront about business/commercial gains from the medium

What have I missed? Do share your thoughts and views.

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“Entrepreneur by Attitude, Employee by choice” is how Anaggh Desai likes to refer himself. Having worked across industries and geographies ranging from hospitality, logistics, travel, ecommerce and retail in his 25 + year career span, there is little he has not seen. A firm believer in being ahead of the curve & strong advocate of consumer evangelism, he believes listening to the consumers is one of the most important things that the brands should do today, particularly in India, where consumer dynamics change every few kilometers. His participative leadership style and inclusive attitude sets him apart. He is amongst the few veterans who have been successful in marrying the digital and offline world. Having been there, done that, Anaggh brings to the table: real world, street smart and sharp business acumen, all served with a large dose of on ground reality. His last decade's professional exploits have led to him being dubbed as the “Turnaround Specialist”, by his peers. Anaggh Desai likes constant challenges and likes learning and innovating himself every couple of years. As a free wheeling 'Mindcaster' and Digital Nomad, he has embraced the social media wave. He is currently senior advisor RAI and also advisor to couple of startups in the Etailing space.
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