Why chasing social media ‘influencers’ is a waste of time

Say goodbye to the idea that if you could just get that one famous person to say something positive about you, things are going to happen.

How important is influence with online marketing? Most professionals would say influence is pretty important, especially when it comes to social media. The notion is that a few key people can spread an idea to their audience and network, causing a brand’s content to “go viral” or at least gain more distribution than if the content were promoted to the every day social media Joe and Jane.

Pursuing the “big influencers” alone is probably one of the biggest fallacies on the Web.

Put aside the challenge of how to find influencers and let’s consider what “influencer” means. To me, it’s someone who has earned ongoing attention of an audience or community and can motivate others to action. There’s often a disconnect between the appearance of influence and those in a position to act on it.

Mass influence exists, but it’s often confused with popularity. They’re not the same thing.

Influencers with mass appeal are easy to find and get found often. They get pummeled with requests by others to do things: share this, promote that. Some of them take up those offers and lose credibility by over-promoting. While they have a significant community watching and listening to them, the ability to inspire action is often lost.

Maybe niche influence is what companies should be considering. Rather that just going after the big fish, target those who have closer, more intimate and meaningful connections with their networks. Say goodbye to the idea that if you could just get that one famous person to say something positive about your software on Twitter, or Facebook or on a blog, then things are going to happen. They probably won’t.

Go after a quantity of quality. Go after many different niche influencers—not just the big fish.

Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and Editor at Online Marketing Blog, where this article originally ran. Follow him on Twitter @leeodden.

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