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Meet Webfluential: the tool trying to connect brands, consumers, influencers

There are times when the relationship between brands, the public at large and so-called “influencers” — people who are perceived to be influential on a particular topic or particular space — can be a bit of a crapshoot at times.

Things would be a lot easier for everyone involved if someone’s influence could be measured across a variety of online platforms. Well that’s exactly the kind of role a new product called Webfluential is trying to fill.

Webfluential, which is a collaboration between digital communications agency Retroviral, development house Silver Apple Studios and digital media venture capital fund Stratos Capital, is meant to provide a “platform that connects brands with consumers via credible social media influencers in order to realise the full potential of social communication”.

The platform is meant to provide influencers on social platforms including Twitter, blogs, YouTube and Instagram, with a means of quantifying their influence so that they can generate a new revenue stream off the media that they have created.

At the same time, the platform claims, brands and the marketing industry, including advertisers, public relations agencies and media buyers, will be able to “identify the most relevant online influencers to include in their campaigns, creating earned media, talkability, feedback, and ultimately, sales”.

“Consumers are spending an ever-increasing amount of time online in order to study and review their potential purchases, and they gather opinions from their network of trusted sources before making purchases,” says Mike Sharman, owner of Retroviral. “Opportunity exists for brands to drive sales through social channels by engaging with the influencers that consumers trust – something that has been difficult to do and difficult to measure — until now.”

“In a nutshell, Webfluential is a platform that will link brands to consumers, through online people of influence. With almost 10 million people in South Africa easily accessible through social platforms, it’s a channel that brands cannot afford to ignore,” he adds.

The folks behind Webfluential reckon it will be an invaluable tool for the following audiences:

  • Influencers who see the value of providing accurate and credible online analytics so that clients and potential clients can use them confidently for brand activations and campaigns
  • Advertisers, media buyers and brands looking for alternative, measurable channels to promote and endorse their clients’ or their own products or services; and
  • Public relations agencies requiring a platform to measure their social communication efforts for their clients, and who also seek a credible listing of social influencers to target for client campaigns, launches and product reviews.

Webfluential for influencers

Webfluential claims that by measuring and ranking the ‘influence’ of each influencer on the platform, it makes it possible for them to earn income from their social communication efforts by connecting them to paying advertisers and marketers, for which the platform in turn claims a small commission.

“Influence isn’t simply captured in a single digit. Our algorithms measure influence by looking at each individual’s reach, resonance and relevance by interpreting the numbers behind their social interactions,” explains Murray Legg, co-founder of Stratos Capital.

Influencers do not pay to be listed on Webfluential, but do need to meet the platform’s minimum requirements. This includes a minimum of 1 000 legitimate Twitter followers.

By nurturing relationships with influencers as they emerge and evolve, Webfluential claims that it will maintain current profiles for each of them, including details of their particular interests and content niches, how many followers or fans they have on the platforms where they publish, and whether they are open to advertising, product reviews, product placements, invitations to launches and events.

Webfluential for brands, advertisers and media agencies

The team behind Webfluential also claims that it will provide brands, advertisers and media agencies with access to accredited social influencers who have met the minimum requirement to subscribe to the platform. It gives them the information they need to work with influencers in the same way that they work with traditional media.

“The social space is populated with thousands of individuals who publish content on a regular basis within their own particular niches. Until now, it has been really difficult for brands and agencies to gather measurable, comparable information about each influencer in order to create and then report on effective social media campaigns. Webfluential has the capability to do just this,” says Legg.

Webfluential for public relations

PR agencies subscribe to the Webfluential platform for R5 000 a year, which provides users with access to the listing of accredited social influencers relevant to their client campaigns.

Influencers are grouped by location, audience, what platform they’re influential on, and into verticals such as entertainment, sport, motoring, food, fashion, beauty etc. Identifying relevant influencers for product reviews, product placements, invitations to launches and events, or site visits is now a simple process.

The influencers’ rankings are also made available, so consultants can report the true reach and influence of the social communication channels they have selected, to their clients.

“Measuring the success of a public relations campaign using traditional media has been a point of discussion within the industry for years. Now that social communication and social media are firmly in the mix, an entirely new system of measurement is required,” says Sharman.

The Webfluential website has separate log-in areas for each of its audiences. Depending on the subscription type selected, users will be able to access information relevant to their specific requirements.

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