‘The Index seems to be … TikTok’s most followed’ – The Oz’s influencer list faces questions

Several prominent voices in the industry have questioned the metrics used to collate the ‘Influence Index’, released yesterday by The Australian’s Gen-Z-led news platform, The Oz.

The Influence Index ranks the top 100 social media creators in Australia according to how they influence the nation’s purchase decisions, conversations and opinions, highlighting those who wield true power with consumers.

The Oz’s editor Elyse Popplewell said the Index delves beyond commonly used vanity metrics, such as the number of followers, and challenges the traditionally valued metrics in the industry.

The list’s top five influencers are Sarah Magusara, Caleb Finn, Hannah Balanay, Rybka Twins and Joel Bergs, all of which have more than 10 million followers on social media platform, TikTok.

Founder and managing director of influencer agency Yellow Agency, Tim Rasbash, questioned whether TikTok’s influence has overshadowed the significance of other platforms in the index.

Tim Rasbash

“The Index seems to be a list of TikTok’s most followed – the four top spots are also the top four most followed Australian influencers on TikTok. The rest of the list largely follows suit,” he said.

“Whilst TikTok is certainly an entertaining and influential platform, those who focus on other platforms that arguably [have] more expertise and influence in their subjects, for example, in fitness or gaming, fall way down the list.

“Many of the other criteria seem questionable or not applied. Frequency of posting for example should not be a means of determining influence. I also cannot see that many of these are ‘experts’ in subjects aside from creating social content.”

CEO of influencer marketing agency, Hypetap and deputy chair of industry body AIMCO, Detch Singh also said on LinkedIn: “A huge amount missing from a data standpoint. Completely disregarded it seems. Very surprised at the list.”

Rasbash said to measure the trustworthiness and relatability of influencers, it’s worth examining previous commercial works and results.

“The volume of past brand partnerships is generally a good first indication – do they appear to be selective as to the brands they work with and do those brands seem to align to their niche or passion? We’d recommend avoiding partnering with influencers who seem to work with every brand that approaches them.

“From a commercial perspective, evidence that their recommendations result in sales. However understanding that that data can be hard to obtain, we’d always recommend seeing if their recommendations actually drive follower comments that show intent or interest.”

GM growth intelligence centre of News Corp Australia, Dan Krigstein, said: “The point of The Influence Index is identifying the most influential social content creators. This work seeks to unpack those that can drive influence, an important emergent area in the marketers toolkit. People have been using experts for decades, the idea of using an authentic everyday person outside of formal expertise is relatively new but growing at incredible speed, particularly amongst younger audiences.”

Commenting on how the index made sure that all influencers are evaluated fairly across all platforms, Krigstein said: “The model assesses conversation and influence, agnostic of platform. All conversations, whether they occur on TikTok, Instagram, etc, are treated equally.

“Interestingly, what the above observation [TikTokers being the top performers] illuminates is the sheer intensity of ‘engagement’ on a per-influencer basis that occurs on TikTok, versus alternative channels.

“The ‘centralisation’ vs ‘decentralisation’ of the conversation (i.e. spheres of influence) forms an important part of our model, and is measured through the proprietary technology developed with Storyful. Using NLP and conversation ‘mapping’, we are able to observe and assess how ‘far’ the impact of an influencer goes, and this factors into the index accordingly.”


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