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Mass influencers – you know who they are, even if you can’t necessarily identify them specifically. They are the prolific blogger or tweeter with a huge following or audience that not only reads him or her, but follows all posted advice.

As reported by MarketingVox, mass influencers can get a rumor started that makes it into mainstream media. They can boost a brand or knock it down with a few well-written posts. They are, in other words, people you want to befriend to hopefully further your brand.

The ’80/16′ Rule
Mass influencers make up just 16% of all online Americans, but are responsible for 80 percent of the brand impressions in online social settings, according to Forrester Research. “Social media has created a new type of influencer – one defined not merely by number of friends or frequency of dialogue, but by both,” said Forrester Research Senior Analyst Augie Ray.

Brands can succeed with mass influencers by creating programs that energize large numbers of these enthusiasts, Ray says. The challenge, of course, is that retailers do not typically know who their mass influencers are – or what to do once they have identified them.

Brand Monitoring
One way to find them, of course, is to monitor what is said about your particular brand – an activity that is quickly grabbing more budget share, according to a just-completed survey by BtoB Online and the Web Analytics Association.

The “B-to-B Web Analytics Survey” found that nearly half (48.3%) of respondents are already measuring social media and that nearly one quarter (24.3%) said they planned to increase their budgets this year to monitor public sentiment.

Group Infuencers into Categories
Once you have identified mass influencers, group them into one of two categories, according to Josh Bernoff at Advertising Age. There is influence from people posting within social networks, called influence impressions. “Based on our surveys, we estimate people in the U.S. create 256 billion influence impression on each other in social networks every year,” said Bernoff.

Then there is the influence created by blog posts, blog comments, discussion forum posts, and ratings and reviews, called influence posts. “We estimate that people in the U.S. create 1.64 billion influence posts every year,” Bernoff said. “If around 150 people view each of these posts, that’s another 250 billion-plus impressions.”

Engage, Evaluate Influencers Regularly
Once these influencers are broken down and better understood, begin engaging them often and intelligently, according to Scott Voigt, VP of marketing at Silverpop. As reported in DMNews, Voigt said, “Start building goodwill by … providing them with special benefits. These persuaders can have a huge impact, so make them feel important. You’ll cultivate increased loyalty and give them further incentive to share even more.”

Then, according to Voigt, it is time to evaluate your efforts, not once but continually.”Instead of just evaluating a promotion by whether recipients opened and clicked-through on an offer, now you can gauge your success by whether they are sharing your offer and talking about it,” Voigt said. Use the data to adjust and optimize future initiatives, Voigt also said. “For example, if you discover that a new product campaign resulted in a strong uptick in Tweets, you might design a special Twitter-only campaign offering a channel-exclusive discount. Learn from previous hits and misses.”

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