Business challenge

Firms that market using social media influencers can’t guarantee demographic targeting and timed messaging release. Influential sought a solution that could help agencies address such issues.


Augmented intelligence from IBM® Watson® technology, demographic analysis and a mobile solution help influencers authentically amplify social marketing messages.


47 traits analyzed by IBM Watson

technology to help ensure that an influencer’s social voice and followers maximize marketing results

5 billion social media followers

analyzed demographically to help client campaigns reach the right audience

Increases influencer satisfaction

through a mobile app that streamlines daily workflow and shares the IBM Watson personality profile

Business challenge story

Transforming digital marketing

When ad agencies and brands market products and services through social media, they usually resort to guesswork to find the right influencers to connect with their target audience. Without hard data to inform their decisions, most decide based on instinct, number of followers, or the hoped-for reach; however there are always unanswered questions. How can they know whether an influencer’s personality and social conversations will support the brand’s marketing message? A Hollywood celebrity could have millions of followers, but is the demographic right? And do the followers actively engage with the celebrity’s posts through shares, likes and comments?

In reality, most influencer marketing firms can’t guarantee demographic targeting or the timed release of messaging to strategically insert themselves into the consumer’s experience. Brand executives may lack direct access to the influencers, instead having to go through intermediaries such as managers or agents. There’s also the issue of brand safety—how to ensure that an influencer’s background, behavior and language meet the highest ethical standards. Influential saw these challenges as an opportunity to develop a solution that would leverage technology to add meaningful data and much needed structure to the market.

IBM Watson helps us provide insights into influencers that marketers have never seen before.

—Ryan Detert, Chief Executive Officer, Influential

Transformation story

Augmenting intelligence

Influential created a data-driven platform that uses augmented intelligence powered by IBM® Watson® technology to eliminate guesswork, guarantee impressions among the target demographic and streamline workflow. The IBM Watson solution’s cognitive analysis pinpoints influencers whose personalities, followers and social conversations closely match the needs of any given brand or marketing campaign. IBM’s cognitive technology also powers a complementary mobile app for influencers that streamlines communications and workflow.

Influential’s transformative approach began with an invite-only network of 15,000-plus social influencers on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube. “Our network consists of digital stars and web celebrities who were born and bred creating content,” says Ryan Detert, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Influential. “They made their notoriety being reliable and having tremendous follower engagement.” Today, Influential’s network reaches more than 5 billion followers.

To determine which influencer personality traits would best match specific brands and campaigns, Influential uses IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding, IBM Watson Personality Insights and IBM Watson Tone Analyzer application programming interfaces (APIs) on the IBM Bluemix® cloud platform. These cognitive services use natural language processing (NLP) to analyze the influencers’ last 22,000 words posted on social media. The analysis identifies prime personality traits across 47 characteristics, from altruistic to adventurous, and pinpoints the subject matter and tone within those words.

These insights help Influential pinpoint whether an influencer’s personality and interests will authentically resonate with the voice of a brand, event or campaign. Linguistic analysis and background checks help protect the brand against influencers’ ethical breaches and scandals. Influential also analyzes follower demographics to ensure media-buy accountability. Why pay for 150,000 followers when only 100,000 hit the target audience? Finally, the company uses IBM Watson analysis to validate each brand’s perception of itself. For instance, a brand that believes its identity to be “edgy” could actually be perceived as easygoing or laid-back. Such information can help marketers choose influencers with the largest quantifiable impact.

Influential stays tightly connected to its influencers through the immediacy and convenience of a mobile app. The app directly pushes opportunities and payment terms to influencers, eliminating lengthy email threads and tedious negotiations with intermediaries. It also enables influencers to deliver posts, selfies and other images anytime, from anywhere. As Detert says, “Mobile is key to being easy to do business with—making it so that people don’t have to run back to a desktop.” The latest app version shares details of the influencer’s IBM Watson personality profile with the influencer.

Mobile is key to being easy to do business with—making it so that people don’t have to run back to a desktop.

—Ryan Detert, Chief Executive Officer, Influential

Results story

Certifying results

Influential’s approach transforms digital marketing by normalizing social media as an accountable advertising channel. Combining cognitive insights with demographic analysis and mobile technology delivers extraordinary results. “Our multi-post campaigns using influencers matched by the Watson traits outperform regular day-to-day content,” says Detert. “It’s the equivalent of followers watching TV and fast-forwarding to the commercials.”

In addition, the mobile app helps keep busy influencers active, engaged and satisfied. It delivers fast and immediate access and the convenience of mobile workflow, while the cognitive personality analysis helps influencers improve their marketability by understanding and tweaking their image.

Bottom line, Influential’s platform improves social campaign performance and increases ROI by helping the right influencer deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time. This powerful capability, enabled by augmented intelligence, changes the digital marketing game for Influential’s customers and the industry as a whole.



Influential uses cognitive and demographic analysis to match brands, publishers and ad agencies with the right social influencers to meet their marketing needs. Founded in 2014 with offices in Las Vegas, Nevada; Beverly Hills, California; and New York, New York; Influential’s invite-only network consists of more than 15,000 leading social influencers, all linked to the company through a mobile app.

Solution components

  • 6950-05D IBM Bluemix Private Cloud (Cloud BU) Withdrawn
  • CAI - Custom ADM - Watson Withdrawn

Take the next step

To learn more about IBM Watson cognitive services and the IBM Bluemix cloud platform, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following websites:,,,,

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