If you’re a brand exec unfamiliar with the social video space heading to VidCon for the first time, you might be panicking right now because you don’t know which butt to smooch and which face to snub. Fortunately, video technology company Zefr released a report on the eve of the event listing the 100 top influencers that can serve as your guide.
Using its Influencer Management System (IMS), Zefr tracks audience response on billions of social posts each day across millions of accounts.
Of those millions of social creators, Zefr identified about 78,000 that met brand safety guidelines and surpassed platform-specific engagement thresholds on multiple pieces of content and tracked them on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the course of a 90-day period, ending June 1, 2016, to find which influencers have the most engagement.
The results are broken down into five categories with 20 influencers each — Digital A-List, Gaming, Kids & Toys, Spanish Language and Best All-Around.
One of the challenges Zefr faced compiling the data was how to calculate the relative value of engagement from the each of the platforms.
“Engagement is built differently on every platform,” explained David Rosner, Zefr’s EVP of Strategic Marketing. “On YouTube, it includes views, likes, comments and re-shares. Comparing platforms, “we were very deep in the apples in oranges territory, but it was a challenge we took on because we thought it was something that was important to look at in the space, because all the platforms work together.”
Those calculations were key to the Best All-Around category, a weighted cross-platform ranking based on relative level of influence on social platforms plus the relative importance of each platform.
As a rule, Zefr does not put much value in reach for its brand clients, so it was not factored into the study.
“Reach is not a very strong indicator of who a brand should work with,” said Rosner. “If you have 10 million followers, but every time you post you only get 10,000 engagements — meaning they like it or share it — that’s not very valuable to a brand. That’s a passive audience, and the power of influencers is their ability to actually have their audiences fully engaged.
Zefr’s report could realign some perceptions about who the most popular digital influencers really are.
On the Digital A-List — comprised ofinfluencers who, because they engage audiences with their authentic selves (or some facsimile thereof), constitute a premium value to brands — Lily Singh (a.k.a. Superwoman), heavily promoted by YouTube in their international ad campaigns, comes in at #10, behind Taras Kulakov (CrazyRussianHacker), who has received scant press coverage. But Kulakov’s YouTube channel has 79 million more views on his main channel than Singhddoes on hers, so if there’s a gulf between perception and reality perhaps it’s due to the platform’s eagerness to promote a young woman who preaches positivity (Singh) instead of a DIY expert with a somewhat threatening handle.
And what about people who didn’t make the list at all? What does it say about them?
“We’ll see over time,” said Rosner. “I think that, given the number of people that are viable for brands in this space, 100 is not that big a number, but we thought it was a pretty ambitious place to start.”