Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
The Fallacy of the Influencer
Posted on May 16th 2014
In the pursuit to create viral content, marketers have embraced the idea that using influencers to endorse a brand’s message will foster consumer engagement. As the tactic trends among the marketing community, brands are spending millions of dollars to hire influencers to serve as brand ambassadors. But in an industry driven by metrics, the question remains: are influencers really worth the investment? Engaging influencers with a huge social media following can be somewhat effective for the creation of awareness, but it may not be the most effective method for creating viral content. Simply gaining “eyeballs” through a celebrity’s following, while consumer friendly, does not alone translate into influence.
The simple truth is: influencers do not often pave the path to virality. The phrase “social influencer” is a constraining, mystifying label. Despite common misconception, what brands really seek when engaging influencers as brand ambassadors is the ‘action’ that is yielded by investing in the process. Being an influencer means that you have more than just a large following. In fact, the word itself doesn’t mean anything unless it yields an outcome. Most people define influencers by over emphasizing the “popularity contest” (i.e. number of followers) with almost no attention to the context. It is the latter that drives the results.
The concept of spreading messages is analogous to spreading diseases. While it’s certainly true that diseases spread from highly connected hubs, they propagate where they can best grow roots. Brands cannot rely on influential people alone to propagate their message. There is a reason that some influencer-based campaigns work and others do not. An article in the Harvard Business Review states that although a celebrity may have huge social media following, he/she may not be as influential when it comes to motivating followers to take a certain course of action. When an influencer is speaking to an audience about something that just doesn’t resonate, then no matter how large the audience is the influence is minimized.
This question of an influencer’s place in creating brand awareness can often be answered by the sociological phenomenon known as “homophily.” Simply put, individual preferences are somewhat based on the preferences, interests, and behaviors of their friends. This suggests marketers should first discover the factors that motivate their audience before relying on influencers. If individuals are more likely to be influenced by a friend, or someone in close-proximity to their network, then a famous influencer may be far less influential. Understanding the driving force behind consumer behavior will help brands implement campaigns that are less reliant on an influencer’s popularity and instead dependent on factors that will truly inspire action.
Investigating the specific characteristics that appeal first to the user’s motivation can help brands find ways to engage their target audience. To do this, it is vital that organizations stay abreast of current trends as well as the conversation of their target audience. In addition, brands must take steps to remain relevant and create an environment of sustained engagement. Taking advantage of available algorithms that take the guesswork out of social media publishing can ensure the target audience is at peak receptivity. This compliments any influencer campaign, as brands can time their messaging for when their target audience is most likely to spread a brand’s message to their friends and colleagues. By utilizing timing along with messaging and delivery brands can embrace social media platforms to organically perpetuate the phenomenon “homophily.”
While alternatives to celebrity influencers can often better reach a target audience, brands should not turn their back on influencers completely. Rather than just selecting an influencer based on their number of followers, brands should make the most informed decision possible to create campaigns that are both targeted and effective. The goal of any influencer campaign is to find the best brand ambassador for a specific campaign. In the end, it is the person that is influenced by an influencer – the consumer – who moves the needle for a brand. Brands that begin to think about the consumer, rather than just the influencer, will best position themselves for success.