Posted October 16, 2014 by Marc Fischman (@marcf) If you're working in social media and you're connecting with influencers, then you're probably looking for folks with the most followers, and you would always be looking to connect with, say, Justin Bieber. We all know that Biebs is not the only influencer out there, and that his level of influence will be moot when it comes to buying a book or finding a restaurant.
Influencers need to be redefined. Today, we identify them based on their reach instead of their true influence. For me an influencer is an expert at something, someone with an authentic message; and when speaking, his/her audience is moved to take actions.
“Influence” has become such a muddy term as social media marketers have begun using it synonymously with “reach.” They are not the same. According to Dictionary.com, the definition of “influence” is, “the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others: Her mother's influence made her stay.”*
*Note: no mention of a score, size of following, or potential reach.
Influencers should be defined by their ability to affect the actions of others. It is true that celebrities have that ability, mostly because of their vast reach, but an influencer strategy needs to account for another important factor: Advocacy. And here’s why:
- A brand advocate will be authentic and passionate about a brand at his or her own will.
- A proper social strategy will identify a brand's best advocates.
- Subsequently, it will measure their ability to affect action throughout their own communities. Those who do so at greater degrees are invaluable to a brand.
This is easier said than done especially when brands today have been focused on listening and publishing platforms, neither of which give any measurement of influence. They only give insight into reach.
To have a really powerful influencer marketing strategy, a brand must identify their top influencers, create relationships with them, and give them the tools and incentives to help spread their messages. In order to do that, the brand must measure influence, and remember – Influence is not reach!