Volvo Seeks Under-the-Radar Influencers for 60th Anniversary Event in U.S.

Volvo Cars of North America Sifts Social Data to Find Influential Car Enthusiasts on Twitter, Instagram, Elsewhere

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There's a stock car racer, an auction specialist and a guy who posts shots of Porsches on Instagram. They're part of a growing group of people who are being culled from the pools of auto enthusiasts with influential social media accounts to help promote Volvo Cars of North America's 60th anniversary in the U.S. to be celebrated with a California road trip event set for October 24. But rather than seek the heavyweights among social influencers, Volvo is working with its agency Digital Brand Architects to evaluate social data to pluck less likely candidates from Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook and other social channels.

"We look really deep into the data to look for those experts, and we call them validators, they're the people who can have a real influence on purchasing," said Alan Rambam, chief product officer at Gravitater, which has an ad product targeting social influencers and, along with DBA, developed the Social Influencer Mapping process behind the Volvo initiative. DBA also does blogger talent management.

"Driven by the opportunity to share the Volvo journey, we'll tap into advanced technology, social platforms and strategic content creators to broadcast this pivotal moment to the world," stated Volvo in a comment sent to Ad Age via email.

The system has gauged the volume and frequency of social posts from auto and Volvo fans, looking at metrics like keyword density and whether a user's posts are shared among an influential network. People are ranked based on their social influence in conjunction with particular brands. It also attempts to determine whether potential influencers have real-life relationships with people in their networks, as indicated by membership in a closed Facebook group, for example.

"Those real-life relationships signal that they have an affinity for the brand and they're interested," said Mr. Rambam.

Volvo is also choosing its influencer set according to ZIP codes in California, demographic and psychographic criteria, and whether they are already Volvo owners or can be pegged as potential owners of the vehicles. The partners wouldn't name specific influencers chosen for the campaign.

"It's a living and breathing process," said Digital Brand Architects co-founder and COO Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, noting that she and her team will choose up to 200 influential social media users who will be fed with Volvo-related content tailored to their social persona and interests. "We want them to throw in their two cents; I think that that's the beauty of this," she said. "Influencers have to be accountable when working with brands."

The agency has yet to seed content to its chosen influencers, though some examples of the campaign's hashtag, #Volvo60, have sprouted on Twitter, Tumblr and elsewhere. Once the targeted content dissemination kicks off, DBA and Gravitater will track how extensively posts are shared.

"We'll look at everybody that also carries that message, that post, forward," Ms. Bracken-Ferguson said.

"We can see in real time how the campaign is being shared," said Mr. Rambam. Some may get more photos to post as a result, or updated content optimized based on results data, for example.

As part of its anniversary event, Volvo will hold a multistop road trip with its new xc90 ad vintage Volvos from the Port of L.A. to Southern California on October 24.

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