4 Types of Influencer Personas and How to Activate Each

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As Jay Baer says, “True influence drives action, not just awareness,” which is why many marketers are adding online communities and advocates to their marketing strategies. But activating influencers isn’t as easy as sending a sample and waiting for consumers to share. 

Every online or branded community is made up of an array of diverse personalities. In order to have a successful influencer strategy, you must first prioritize the type of influencer your brand wants to monitor, engage and communicate with. That means understanding who your key influencers are and how to activate them. 

We recently surveyed Smiley360, our online community of over 850,000 consumer influencers, and discovered four key influencer personas exist: the Trendsetter, the Sharer, the Observer, and the Reporter.  Here, we share who these4 key influencers are and how to engage and activate each so they drive action that will grow your brand.

The Trendsetter

The Trendsetter is someone who is always actively seeking out the latest trends. Motivated by ego, Trendsetters pride themselves on being ahead of the game. Oftentimes, they have a large social following and strive to be the first in their network to introduce new brands, products, and trends. These influencers are especially excited to have received an exclusive offer and are eager to share about their new product with their friends and followers. 

The Trendsetter’s value is obvious. These influencers are passionate, excitable, and eager to share ‒ meaning they should be center stage in your brand’s marketing initiative. Since a strong social presence is a priority for the Trendsetter, they’re especially motivated to create high-quality content. 

However, a core challenge we face with the Trendsetter is a lack of brand loyalty. Because they’re so eager to stay ahead of the game, Trendsetters are constantly trying out new brands ‒ meaning it can be difficult to get the trendsetter to dedicate themselves to your product.

At Social Media Link, 36% of our Smiley360 community fits into the Trendsetter category. To effectively engage and activate these influencers, we recognize the Trendsetters and their potential in the early stages of an influencer program, giving Missions an initial boost. To benefit from Trendsetters, your brand should:

  • Reach out early ‒ Trendsetters should be the first influencers you activate when launching an influencer program. 
  • Use language to make them feel ahead of the game ‒ offer a Trendsetter an  “exclusive” or “cutting edge” offer.

Pro-tip: 

Trendsetters won’t bother sharing if they feel they’re on the tail end/ last-to-know. They might not always be the first-to-know about your product or brand, but luckily with great copy, you can make them feel like the Trendsetters they are no matter the situation.

The Sharer  

The Sharer is a distributor of information. They’ll share anything from videos to pictures, to blog posts and GIFs. The Sharer researches content to share and amplifies the information they find through their social networks. The Sharer loves to share, making this influencer a valuable tool for your brand to reach a large and diverse audience.

At Social Media Link, 28% of our Smiley360 community are Sharer influencers. We find these influencers are the most reliable when it comes to sharing, even when they’re presented with little incentive to do so. The Sharer guarantees that your brand will achieve the target reach and impressions you’ve set. Eager to share and create a range of content, the Sharer has great potential to further your brand’s marketing initiatives. If your brand is willing to get creative, the Sharer is of high value. 

To engage and activate your community’s Sharers, be sure to:

  • Communicate the core values of your brand
  • Be authentic in your messaging and actions – authenticity is a core value of the Sharer
  • Get creative – the Sharer is willing to share all types of content, so use this to your advantage by presenting them with unique, quality content that they can repurpose

Pro-tip:

Be careful with your copy. When reaching out to the Sharer, be sure that your language isn’t too forceful or riddled with sales-lingo. You want to show your authenticity so they’ll do the same. 

The Observer 

The Observer does not participate in social sharing and conversations, but instead, observes the activities of others. This type of influencer is typically the most challenging to activate, but the Observer remains a valuable part of your online community. Why? Their sharing is authentic and organic.

Though the Observer may not be actively sharing on social media, this influencer can still provide great value to your online marketing campaign. Even if they’re not participating in online conversations, they're paying attention. The value here? Their potential to absorb and share information.

The Observer is the influencer most likely to act upon social recommendations. These active buyers go out and purchase the products they’re reading about online, then share about their experience with their offline social network. 

 At Social Media Link, 23% of the Smiley360 community are Observers. They may not be the ones creating content, but they are the ones actively liking, commenting, and re-sharing, extending the reach of the community’s content. 

When effectively engaged, you can activate the Observer to become a loyal advocate for your brand. Regularly observing large amounts of information, Observers are constantly familiarizing themselves with more brands and products. And when they find a brand they like, they stick with it.

To engage and activate the Observer, be sure to: 

  • Be specific – the Observer is constantly taking in new information, so make sure your messaging communicates what exactly makes your brand, service, or product unique and worthy of their attention
  • The Observer can be reached through other influencers within your online community. To encourage Observers to take action, be sure to include strong CTAs in everything your brand, and your brand’s advocates are sharing on social.
  • Observers are the most overlooked influencer type. Don’t underestimate their worth in your influencer marketing strategy.

Pro-tip:

Consider what it would take for you to reshare something you’ve read or seen online, then make sure your content and messaging align with that incentive.


The Reporter 

The Reporter influencer is an individual who likes to get a conversation going online. Their topics of interest include current affairs, events, and new products, brands, and services. The Reporters aims to pique their social audience’s interest. They’re socially active conversation-starters and a key asset for every influencer marketing strategy.

At Social Media Link, 13% of the Smiley360 community are reporters. These Reporters are characteristically proactive and are able to get an online buzz going around the brands they’re interacting with on a Mission. When working with a Reporter, it’s important to:

  • Be unmissable – the first step to activating the Reporter is to capture their attention
  • Be unique – the Reporter will get excited about your brand if you offer them something different to share with their social audience. When creating content with/for the Reporter, don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
  • Weave your brand, product or service into an event or story by tying it into current events (such as sporting, music, or celebrity culture). 

Pro-tip:

Since these are the influencers who are likely starting the most conversations around your brand, ensure the messaging around their conversations aligns with your brand’s. You can do this through discussion questions or seed phrases on social sharing tools. 

We’ve seen that each type of influencer plays a critical role in a successful influencer marketing strategy. The key is understanding who each influencer is and how to activate them properly. If you’re ready to learn more about how to kick-off an influencer strategy, check out our free guide “How to Get Started with Influencer Marketing.” 


Katrina MaughanTwitterLinkedIn

Katrina is a Community Manager at Social Media Link. In addition to helping monitor the online presence of the community, she provides community insights by creating and analyzing surveys to gain a broader understanding of the members of our community.