Lee Odden: The Fallacy of Influence

The Fallacy of Influence

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 audiences and networks, causing a brand’s content to “go viral” or at least gain more substantial 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 challenges how to find influencers and consider what “influencer” means. To me, it’s someone that has earned ongoing attention of an audience or community and the ability to 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 that 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.

Originally published 18 April 2012 on toprankblog.com. Lee Oden is CEO of TopRank and can be followed on Twitter @leeoden