Two kids with ipad laughing

Breaking Down the Influencer Formula

Two kids with ipad laughing

How Different Types of Influencers Build Relationships With Kids

To the uninitiated, the fascination among kids for making slime and watching other people play video games may seem a mystery. But among those in the know, we understand that influencers are keeping these crazes alive and well. Influencers matter to kids — a lot. So what’s at the heart of these powerful connections?

Favorite influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms not only garner enormous heart-share from under 13s, but also influence the way kids think and what they watch and buy. We’ve taken a close look at how. If you spend hours and hours looking at posts from different influencers, you start to notice that while personalities for influencers vary widely, for each topic there tends to be a stereotypical type. For example, crafting coaches are typically lighthearted and conversational. Gamer dudes (yes, mostly dudes) tend to be high energy and goofy. If your aim is to connect with kids, understanding these personalities is critical to developing strategies relating to influencers.

To make better sense of the influencer landscape, Insight Kids conducted a study among 1,200 U.S. kids and parents to understand the types of personalities that engage kids in different content areas. The findings show, unequivocally, that all influencers are not created equally.

Influencer styles boil down to four main personalities: The SuperfanThe BuddyThe Firecracker, and The Icon. Which type reigns supreme depends on the subject matter of the posts.

The Superfan

Superfans are true experts in their field. They build kids’ trust through a combination of objectivity and competency, not a hard sell. They are really good at what they do and know what they’re talking about. They’re also honest, even if they don’t like something.

Superfan traits are most important to kids overall, and they can be found across many categories. That said, the traits are especially important for influencers who build their reputations around showcasing their skills, like those in music. These influencers give kids something to aspire to.
Pentatonix never misses a note.

The Buddy

Buddies are approachable and relatable, engaging and inspiring kids through their own journeys to learn and perfect their skills. They’re described by kids as being “regular people” and “always kind.” They also give kids tons of good ideas for things to watch, buy, or do, and go slowly enough for kids to follow.

The personality traits of The Buddy are especially important for influencers covering crafting/DIY and food/drinks/snacks. Kids know that making stuff is challenging, and they want influencers to validate their efforts.
Karina Garcia isn’t afraid to mess up, and makes the best of her mistakes.

The Firecracker

Firecrackers make followers feel like they are part of the experience, providing a personal connection to the fun. They’re funny and energetic, and they take extra care to interact with their fans. Firecrackers help fans feel connected by talking directly into the camera in videos, conducting Q&A sessions, responding to fans’ comments, and liking fans’ posts about them. Many Firecrackers even give their fans a special name, providing a sense of being in an exclusive group.

Influencers who cover videogames or toys do well when they embody the personality traits of The Firecracker, especially humor. They get props for great interaction with their fans, and for conveying high energy.
Dan TDM, a videogame influencer, often responds directly to fans and has a whimsical approach.

The Icon

Icons are masters at self-branding. They have characteristics that make them look or sound different, catchphrases that stick, lots of face time, consistent visual styles, and often a posse of regular characters or friends. Many of them very explicitly solicit likes and followers and even shill their own line of products. In contrast to The Buddy, who is seen as “always kind,” The Icon has permission to be “obnoxious or rude, in a fun way.” While kids may not prioritize the traits of The Icon consciously, they are influenced by good branding — consistent, signature elements that help influencers stand out from the pack and let fans know what to expect.

Being an Icon is especially important for influencers who focus on fashion/style and technology. And many social media diarists who post slice-of-life videos are masterful Icons, while they also often showcase traits of The Firecracker.

Youtube Screenshot 4
Jojo Siwa has her own line of merchandise and celebrates her subscriber numbers with fans.

Finding the Right Influencer Traits Is Key to Connecting With Kids

The four key influencer personalities are not mutually exclusive. Influencers can and do embody traits of multiple types, and it’s in the smart combinations that these influencers create the magic formula that allows them to connect with kids so strongly. Those who understand the personality traits that work best for their subject do the best job of connecting with kids, whether those influencers are pranksters or role models. Regardless of type, their power is mighty.


We’d love to share more about how our unique expertise and solutions can help your business move forward. Drop us a line here, and we’ll be in touch!

Favor of Men’s and Women’s Teams Pay Proportionate to Revenue

1. The U.S. Men’s and Women’s national teams in sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc. should respectively receive…

Pay that is proportional to the revenue the Men’s/ Women’s teams respectively generate – 59%
Equal pay, regardless of the revenue the Men’s/Women’s team generate – 34%
Not sure / No response – 7%

2. U.S. Soccer sponsor Luna Bar recently provided the funds to close the pay gap between the Women’s and Men’s U.S. Soccer Teams. The marketing effect on Luna Bar’s brand from this effort will be more significant among this consumer segment:

U.S. Soccer fans – 65%
The general public in the U.S. – 23%
Not sure / No response – 12%

3. At the end of April, you’ll look back and say that the biggest event this month was:

The Masters – 72%
NCAA March Madness – 15%
Start of MLB Season – 6%
Start of the NBA Playoffs – 3%
Start of the NHL Playoffs – 3%
NFL Draft – 1%
WrestleMania 35 – 1%
Boston Marathon – 0%
Not sure/No response – 0%

4. What is your opinion on the following statements related to promoting green/sustainability initiatives in sports?

5. Which of the following NCAA basketball conference tournament combinations of sponsor-property represents the best brand fit?

Phillips 66 – Big 12 – 17%
TIA – Ivy League – 14%
Jeep – Big East – 12%
New York Life – ACC – 12%
Air Force Reserve – Mountain West – 9%
SoFi – Big Ten – 8%
Aaron’s – AAC – 1%
Not sure/No response – 27%

6. In the last six months, have you streamed a live sporting event on your phone via your data plan (not via Wi-Fi)?

Yes – 53%
No, and I haven’t wanted to – 33%
No, but I would have if it were a practical option – 14%

7. Which area of sports business will be affected the most by the advent of 5G technology and the related faster and more reliable wireless networks?

At event experience – 35%
Fan engagement – 31%
Media rights – 24%
Not sure/No response – 10%

8. Which of the following statements best represents your opinion of the arrival of 5G technology?

Its potential impact is overblown – 40%
It will have a groundbreaking effect – 29%
Not familiar with 5G technology – 18%
Not sure/No response – 23%

9. Compared to last season, the broader NHL league and team marketing efforts in 2018 – 19 have been…

Less prominent – 24%
As prominent – 32%
More prominent – 21%
Not sure / No response – 23%

10. Which are of analytics has a bigger impact on a pro sports team’s bottom line?

Business analytics – 57%
Player analytics – 41%
Not sure/No response – 2%

11. What is the title of the top data analytics staffer at the average pro sports franchise?

Manager or Director – 47%
Vice President – 36%
Senior Vice President – 8%
C-Suite – 1%
Not sure / No response – 1%

12. How many people work in data analytics/business intelligence roles at the average pro sports franchise?

Average – 6

13. If you were a league commissioner and it was an option to do so, would you share athlete performance data like hear-rate during games as part of broadcast or online stats?

Yes – 39%
No – 59%
Not sure/No response – 24%

14. In light of recent news reports and allegations surrounding Conor McGregor, what is he to the UFC marketing team?

A marketing liability – 41%
A marketing asset – 35%
Not sure/No response – 24%

15. Thinking about your own particular business, what best describes your confidence level regarding the next 12 months for your own business?

7 – Extremely optimistic – 13%
6 – Very optimistic – 32%
5 – Somewhat optimistic – 34%
4 – Neither optimistic nor pessimistic – 12%
3 – Somewhat pessimistic – 6%
2 – Very pessimistic – 2%
1 – Extremely pessimistic – 1%
Not sure / No response – 0%

The Turnkey Sports Poll is a monthly survey of 2,500 sports industry executives representing teams, leagues, governing bodies, facilities, media, events, agencies and brands. The poll covers current events and topics affecting sports business and takes 2-3 minutes to complete. Results are published in the SportsBusiness Journal and on Turnkey’s website. To be considered as a TSP panelist, please click here and enter your business contact information.