I read a thought provoking article in AdAge this morning by Matthew Creamer. The title, “Your Followers are no measure of your influence,” does an excellent job of debunking the notion that just because you have millions of followers on Twitter, you are automatically an influencer. But I think that Matthew missed the larger point that there are genuine influencers in every community whether online or not. And that there are different categories of influencers representing three kinds of publishers; editorial, brand and peers.
The Justin Biebers or Ashton Kutchers of the world are not significantly different than the Hollywood hucksters of generations past. For anyone who can remember Orson Wells pitching Paul Masson wines, there is plenty of evidence of celebrities trying to convert their popularity into influence. They leverage their own personal brands to add a cache to what they are promoting; branding 101. These people are professional or editorial influencers and to which also belong most politicians, journalists and analysts. Regardless of your aesthetic, political or social beliefs, it’s hard not to acknowledge this class of bloggers, Tweeters and authors. And it’s hard not to understand that no matter where they come from, they are advancing their own or their sponsor’s agendas.
There’s another class of influencers who are exerting their presence of the Web and across social media; brands themselves. Within every category, there are competing brands that are generating content aimed to influence the conversation about and the perception of their brand and the products and services associated with their brand. And like the editorial influencers, they unabashedly have their own agendas.
So what does that leave? The rest of the social world made up of individuals who demonstrate their influence by their expertise, their ability to communicate and the authenticity of their messages. These are our peers, like the best Mommy bloggers, leaders in various forums; what Augie Ray of Forrester Research calls, Mass Influencers. This group which amounts to around 6% of the online population generates 80% of the influence impressions.
All these different categories of influencers can be leveraged by marketers, both to disseminate their content, buoyed by the influencers own credibility, but also as a means of understanding what consumers are genuinely interested in.
At Blab, http://www.blabbings.com, we understand that if you don’t first understand who the “influencers” really are and what is the nature of their influence, you won’t be able to use them to give a lift to your marketing efforts, regardless of channel.