Influencer Shminfluencer: The Truth Under the Covers

Hey, I feel for you.  You’re launching a new campaign and you want to find the most influential people to inform and to win over as advocates.  Your CEO asked you to put together a list of influencers but you know the score- every famous person is inundated by such requests and you feel your product or service will be lost in the noise.  Luckily, you are a Socially-aware CMO and you have the right answer:  the little “i” influencer- those unsung folks who can help supercharge your brand and make your campaign a true success.

In an ideal world, you’d be able to excite the most influential people on the planet and have them gravitate towards your brand.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Bill Gates endorsed your software product or Lebron James evangelized your new running shoe?  Financial services product?  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have Alan Greenspan stump for you?

Well the problem is that these people are incredibly busy and celebrities are frankly incredibly expensive to work with.  Furthermore, you want to leverage the power of social media as much as you can- to extend your reach, to be able to get real-time data and feedback, to leverage the power of technology, and to do so without breaking the bank.  And not all influential people are engaged in social media.  So the ideal model might not work.

You can then turn to your PR agency.  But very likely they will trot out the same predictable names and offer to pitch on your behalf.  The fact is that folks like Walt Mossberg are on everyone’s list – digital doesn’t mean accessible!

What you really want to do is to identify the true social influencers- those folks who might not sport household names but who tweet and retweet, creating a cascading momentum for your brand, product, or service.

The power of social media is precisely this- the power to uncover diamonds in the rough, to find advocates and influencers who ordinarily would not make the list. And those people are hard to find unless you have the right tools.


9 comments to Influencer Shminfluencer: The Truth Under the Covers

  • Great post- one additional point I would like to offer is that even with celebrity endorsements, people like to get feedback from those they can relate to more. This means influencing has to be more varied and at more of a grassroots level. Lastly the sphere of influence and the magnitude of influence can vary greatly for people as well as channel. Someone can be rather inactive on social media but be very influential among peers and friends. Harder to identify and even harder to do any sort of attribution and ROI, but we know its there.


  • Thanks Kamal

    I truly believe you are on to something here – which means its “work” to find, court, and utilize influencers in your marketing. But like anything thats hard to do – the benefits are often worth it!

  • Hi Paul,

    Great post and right on the money.

    Question for you: practically, how does a brand or company actually find their true social influencers?



    (Shameless plug: our company has developed software which identifies brand ‘mavens’ through a contest, game, or promotional campaign and tracks their influences out five degrees.)

  • Good post, Paul. I think the right way to win celebrities is to engage with them LONG before you need them. Write a comment on Bill Gates’ blog or write a blog post about what he and Melinda are doing. It can take months or even years to build up mutual trust. But it can be done.


  • @Andre/Andrew

    I would love to see your software – I use a combination of Klout and regular search
    lets talk

  • @Jeff

    Oh yeah – totally agree – you have to build the network before you can activate it – great point!

  • […] with a focus on specific markets. I.e. to continue on our original vision and value proposition. Paul though was the only person with an alternative opinion. He asked me to look at his most recent blog […]

  • Paul, good post. I think most marketers struggle with this challenge. I agree that the explosion of social networks and blogs have made it much easier to identify credible, visible and logical influencer candidates for your brand, product or service. What I found lacking in the post – and maybe you don’t want to give this counsel away for free – was a few tips on how you or others you know have identified, cultivated and maintained engagement with various influencers, particularly those for whom cutting a check is not required.

  • @Tim

    And you’re right that is the secret sauce – but – its also the old technology adage — it depends!

    My formula for what I have done at one clients doesn’t translate 100% to another client but the concept described above does

    hope that helps and thanks for commenting

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