Five Types of Social Media Influencers

Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin Freelance Web Consultant/Speaker, Raymond Morin

Posted on February 18th 2012

Five Types of Social Media Influencers

What makes a good influencer?

Influence” is a concept difficult to evaluate since it refers to both subjective and objective values, resulting in a measurement of:

  • commercial and financial success
  • reputation and credibility
  • quality of affiliations and contacts
  • charisma and the impact of personality

For each of these values, the notion of influence may vary from person to person.

In fact, in the age of social media, the definition is changing as how to identify influencers. Today, thanks to online applications, all social media users now have the opportunity to stand out and in turn become leaders in respect to their interests.   As a result, marketers and public relation professionals are forced to reassess their approach to define the notion influence on social networks.

Influencers on social media are either passionate individuals who turn out to be specialists or professionals involved who use Web 2.0 tools as part of their work. They take advantage of their presence on social networks for personal gain or as representative (or ambassador) a brand, company or organization. They produce and sharing relevant content, appealing to the interests of a community. This can result in regularly prompting discussions and interactions that might have influence on behaviors.

(Please watch: INFLUENCERS – How Trends And Creativity Become Contagious)

The Five Types of Social Media Influencers

There are different types of influencers. Depending on the objectives, not all types of influencers can be matched with all types of personalities.

Klout’s matrix of influence offers no fewer than twelve different types of influencers that include: the specialist, the activist, the socializer, the observer to the broadcaster, curator to the thought leader.
Many users do not give great importance to this matrix.

Lisa Barone, co-founder of the firm Outspoken Media (New York), in contrast, proposes a simpler list in Small Business Trends: The Five Types of Influencers On The Web.

A list which corresponds very well to the five main types of influencers that found on social media:

  • The networker (Social Butterfly): one who has the biggest contact list and found on all platforms. He or she who knows everybody and everybody knows him or her.
  • The opinion leader (Thought Leader): one who can become the best ambassador of a brand. He or she has built a strong authority in his or her field by based on credibility. Their messages are most often commented on and retweeted.
  • The discoverer (Trendsetter): one who is always the first to use a new platform.  Constantly on the lookout for new trends, they become the “hub” in the sector.
  • The sharer (Reporter): one who distributes information to the bloggers to journalists through the specialized webzines. He or she usually amplify messages.
  • The user (Everyday Customer): one that represents the regular customer. He or she does not have a network as large as the networker, but his or her network remains equally important.

According strategies and objectives with the campaigns in social networks, certain types of influencers are a perfect fit. To be efficient, it must be determined what type of influencer you want to reach.

What kind of influencer do you identify yourself as?

In a future post, I will propose ten key indicators to determine the real value of a social media influencer.

What do you think of this article? Do you have any suggestions for improving this list. Share your comments.

Raymond Morin

Raymond Morin

Freelance Web Consultant/Speaker, Raymond Morin

Author, blogger, social media consultant, and content curator, Raymond Morin is also speaker and coach/trainer for small businesses directors and organizations CEO's. He contributes regularly (in English) to WindMill Networking's blog, as occasionnaly to Social Media Today and to Intelegia. All his original articles (in French) are regrouped on his own portfolio/blog : Virage 2.0. 

Web professional since over 15 years, he worked and collaborated with several organizations, SMB and startups to build their web and social presence. Early adopter himself, considered as a social media power user by his peers, he published two books (in French) during this period : Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0 (2010), and Culture Web à la portée des PME (2001). In early 2013, he will publish his third book : Business et médias sociaux - Les clés de la Génération C et du marketing d'influence, in French, as in English.   



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Chris Cruz
Posted on February 21st 2012 at 3:52AM

I wonder how Klout calculates their scores and how credible are the scores. And can we use really use this Klout score to say that we are influencer in such subject? I've seen some people in Klout that are not active and yet, they have high score? These are just some random questions. 

Raymond Morin
Posted on February 23rd 2012 at 8:51PM

Thanks Chris,

You can ask all your questions to Klout's team about their algorithms, but I'm not sure that you'll have all the answers you need. In fact, the most frequent question I heard is about the types of influencers they attribute, as the topics of influence they determinate for each users. It's rather incongruous to be influential for sheeps on social media! That's the point I mentioned in my article. 


Leon Cupit
Posted on February 21st 2012 at 11:41AM

Great article thank you, It really helped me understand where I currently fit in, and where I most want be, I found the matrix very useful and I believe this can help also many of my peers.

Posted on February 21st 2012 at 4:20PM

Great article. It provides some insight to where I currently sit in this space, and gives me an idea on where I would like to be. I too am curious as to how the numbers were calculated. 

Looking forward to the next piece in the series.


Posted on February 22nd 2012 at 6:22PM

Hi Raymond, nice post and I think that you should also consider in your analysis. Kred rates Influence and Outreach, and also Communities in which the person is deemed to be influential. I know that you're only discussin Influence but Outreach is also an interesting and associated concept.

You'll find, for example, that Rupert Murdoch in Kred's scale has almost maximum influence and almost zero outreach, which I found fascinating enough to write up in a blog post "Extreme KRED – Rupert surfs the social metrics"

I'm not associated with any of the "measurement" firms, but I think that Kred offers a more insightful analysis of the "topics" and Communities in which people are influential. I may be wrong but Klout seems to be more based on textual word frequency, whereas Kred uses a more semantic assessment of influence and Communities. The latter should be more indicative and more stable.

Walter @adamson

Loraine Antrim
Posted on February 23rd 2012 at 5:27PM

How do you communicate to influence? Be relevant!  Whether via social media or in any other medium, being relevant gets you influencer points!  But especially in a social media context, if the content you are creating or commenting about is NOT relevant to the targeted audience, they tune out and your opportuntiy to influence is nill. Timely, helpful and insighful content is foundational to creating influence in a highly social world. Great article Raymond, thanks for the relevant content! Loraine Antrim!/loraineantrim

Posted on May 1st 2012 at 4:05PM


thanks for posting this lovely article..... 

actually i've been a specialist on klout for a very long time.... and i want to know what are the level after the specialist....

thanks in advance 

Posted on April 11th 2013 at 6:12AM

Please can we stop this nonsense... if you think that Klout, Kred, or any other tool that uses a generic algorhytm to measure influence you should be given a wide berth when talking about social media!