By Jim Barry

Brands and individuals are quickly recognizing that the path to growing social media influence has much to do with their ability to enlighten, motivate, edutain or mentor their audiences. A recent study demonstrated that influencers fall into 8 categories.

The exploratory study of over 500 Social Media Influencers (empirically validated by 171 self evaluations) was conducted by three professors at NSU. The authors discovered the following archetypes that fit profiles we are accustomed to seeing in the broadcast news field.

  • Visionaries
  • Strategists
  • Teachers
  • Tutors
  • Charismatics
  • Evangelists
  • Entertainers
  • Coaches

The study results were derived from an examination of content knowledge usefulness (instructional to insightful), consultation style (enlightening to engaging) and inspirational appeal (inspiration that is envisioned or impassioned).

Visionaries gain their social media influence from highly insightful analyses. Often deep in thought, they carefully craft responses to questions on trends and change predictions. They prefer round table forums in a debate oriented setting. Consequently, marketers can get on their radar with empirical data, conference invitations, trendline reports and book reviews. Some examples of visionaries with social media influence featured in this video include Shama Hyder, Mitch Joel, Jill Rowley, Shel Israel and Sandy Carter.

Strategists are more prescriptive and action oriented than visionaries. Beyond having a deep awareness of changing business dynamics, they thrive on ideas for adopting social media practices and technology across an enterprise. Their topics range from platform integration to changed marketing behaviors. Comfortable in academic and large keynote conference settings, strategists devote considerable time explaining their high level social business strategies. Many of them write books on their proposed practices, thereby opening a door for marketers willing to share cases and review publications as well as to share their successes. Some examples of strategists with social media influence featured in this video include Shama Hyder, Mitch Joel, Jill Rowley, shel israel and Sandy Carter.

Teachers are more engaging than strategists and visionaries. They thrive on webinars, workshops and audience engaged forums. As a result of their mentoring and responsiveness to audience reactions, their empathy is often credited as someone who listens well. Over time, reputations are developed as audiences benefit from personal advice that extends to better lifestyles. Mentors thrive on creating communities for insight sharing. As a result, getting on their radar is often based on sharing best practices through guest posts or commenting on their blogs. Some examples of teachers with social media influence featured in this video include Brian Solis, Mark Schaefer and Tamara McCleary.

Tutors are more tactical than teachers as they build their audiences around instructional tips and guidelines often aimed at near-term results. Their audiences seek enhanced performance skills through tactical tips in a Q&A format. Marketers, in this case, can connect with them by providing educational aids and expert commentary. Some examples of tutors with social media influence Kim Garst, Darren Rowse, Lee Odden and Michael Hyatt.

Charismatics tap into the emotional side of audience connection. Capitalizing on heart warming stories, inspirational messaging and often high energy, they inspire others to consider their insights. Charismatics appreciate more intimate commentary when interacting with them. This is often done through visuals and shared experiences. Many reach their fame in TED talks and other staged forums where they attempt to mesmerize their audiences. Some examples of charismatics with social media influence featured in this video include Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Chris Brogan and Jay Baer.

Evangelists are similar to charismatics but with an agenda. Many are advocates for certain technologies, platforms or overall social concepts. They gain their audiences often by being provocative or challenging to conventional thinking. The key to getting on their radar is to support their activism with community support. Some examples of evangelists with social media influence include Tara Hunt, Simon Mainwaring and Joel Comm.

Entertainers are less engaged than charismatics. They thrive on stage with comic routines, sentimental stories and fun storytelling. Important to connecting with these folks is evidence of being able to keep their audiences’ attention. This is often done through energetic dialogues hosted on Google+ HOAs, podcasts and live audience forums. Some examples of entertainers with social media influence featured in this video include Brian Carter, Andrea Vahl and Scott Stratten.

Coaches seek ways to stimulate their audiences often in an entertaining setting. Beyond pure entertainment, however, these motivators strive to pump up their audiences towards goal driven action. Content contributions need to help them maintain audience energy so as to sustain a packed audience. This works best when the content includes audience participative exercises and motivational success stories. Some examples of coaches with social media influence featured in this video include Mari Smith, Lewis Howes, Guy Kawasaki and Amy Porterfield.

So where do you find yourself among these categories? Are you more of a visionary, strategist, tutor, teacher, coach, charismatic, evangelist or entertainer?