17 Replies to “What ARE Influencers Good For?”

    1. Thanks, William. I had not seen that. I like Armano’s second reaction. Generally speaking, I think we’re in a bubble. If the .com bubble was about eyeballs in trade press, then this one is about eyeballs from bloggers. I hope businesses get smart about this and re-evaluate influencer relations as a priority, but just a singular piece of the puzzle.

  1. It’s as if someone took one tiny part of a chocolate cake recipe, like vanilla extract, and decided that’s what makes or breaks the whole cake. History repeating itself – some of us said to people “blog”, and they think that’s all they have to do. “Get on Facebook” and folks try to turn their news stream into a business model.

    What happened to work? It’s not even as if the work is That hard. Decide on your objective. Be clear about your message. Find out where the people who care hang out. Help them. Genuinely care about them. Let them come to you for more answers. Is it calculus?

    The Quora thing especially is getting on my nerves. I’m no hater – certain people I respect like it for what it is, and that’s fine. But people who are enamored of it like it’s the next big thing? I want to shake them like we’re in Mommie Dearest.

    Thank you for putting this up so I have somewhere to vent, LOL.

    1. The best metaphor I have hear yet: “if someone took one tiny part of a chocolate cake recipe, like vanilla extract, and decided that’s what makes or breaks the whole cake.” Bingo. Don’t make your desert your whole meal!

      I actually feel a little bad for QUora. They did not actively seek this bubble that I am aware of, more the Silicon Valley digeratti fell in love with it and created the influence bubble. Still the coverage was a PR person’s dream, so I think the example is appropos.

      1. Thank you. ;) I do try.

        I feel bad for Quora too – I have nothing personal against them, or their service. It’s just not for me. There are plenty of people who should be using it, but you’re right, they hype machine turned it into something it wasn’t. And it’s not as if they didn’t solicit a look from some of those folks.

        Would be great if they could take this press they’re getting and funnel it into more precise coverage. If I were them…. well. I’ll keep that to myself. :)

      2. Thank you. ;) I do try.

        I feel bad for Quora too – I have nothing personal against them, or their service. It’s just not for me. There are plenty of people who should be using it, but you’re right, they hype machine turned it into something it wasn’t. And it’s not as if they didn’t solicit a look from some of those folks.

        Would be great if they could take this press they’re getting and funnel it into more precise coverage. If I were them…. well. I’ll keep that to myself. :)

  2. It’s as if someone took one tiny part of a chocolate cake recipe, like vanilla extract, and decided that’s what makes or breaks the whole cake. History repeating itself – some of us said to people “blog”, and they think that’s all they have to do. “Get on Facebook” and folks try to turn their news stream into a business model.

    What happened to work? It’s not even as if the work is That hard. Decide on your objective. Be clear about your message. Find out where the people who care hang out. Help them. Genuinely care about them. Let them come to you for more answers. Is it calculus?

    The Quora thing especially is getting on my nerves. I’m no hater – certain people I respect like it for what it is, and that’s fine. But people who are enamored of it like it’s the next big thing? I want to shake them like we’re in Mommie Dearest.

    Thank you for putting this up so I have somewhere to vent, LOL.

  3. It surprised me how much chatter was going on about this service since when I first checked it out late last year, it just seemed like a public Q&A service – sort of like LinkedIn. I didn’t see anything ingenious about or new for that matter. Then certain people started talking about it over Twitter and all of a sudden it became the source of blog posts and in depth analysis (as well as ridicule).

    I’ve just come to the conclusion that I’d rather be doing things that matter – whether offline or online – than be someone sprinkled onto a product to make it magical.

    1. I agree, Andre. Part of the reason why I think Quora was not able to retain a majority of the new users (or at least keep them on as regular visitors) was the misrepresentation of the service. Slower growth due to a much more factual depiction by influencers would have yielded a more loyal user base…

    2. Yes, great point, Andre. I still can’t see what makes this better than LinkedIn Answers. Or perhaps that’s just a different knife for a different problem? What exactly is Quora solving? How does it do that better than what’s already out there? That’s what I want to hear.

      1. I do see it as an independent question platform from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that is similar to Yahoo! Answers. I think that it’s independent puts it in a place similar to Flickr for photos and YouTube for videos.

  4. Geoff,

    There are days when I think back across everything we learned and wonder why some folks never included Amanda Chapel in their research. As much as the character often took things too far, it was a testament to how fragile the entire “influence” measurement system is, giving credit to a fictional character staffed by hidden people with agenda who made things up, in some cases, out of thin air.

    To think people actually pitched “her.” And there, my friend, is the shell of influencer concept, proving how popularity based measures are meaningless as Chapel was popular for awhile until her house of cards finally came to an end.

    Much like Quora? Maybe.

    Best,
    Rich

    1. And even more so, her muse Andre Keen’s words ring truer and truer. I was at a local tech event last night and spent 5 minutes with one of our local marketing leaders explaining why I wasn’t yet another one of these SM Experts touting influence. I am fearful that we will get pulled down with the whole lot.

      1. The voice of dissent you’re building a platform for (willingly or not, secretly or not *smile*) won’t get lumped in with everyone, as long as we continue to refute the label of “social media expert” as something that actually has some tangible meaning.

        When I think “Geoff Livingston, I don’t think “social media guru”. Thought leader, new media even. But not snake oil. Anyone who has a body of thought that they share and exists outside of that will be left standing when the smoke fades and the mirrors shatter…

      2. I’ve been thinking about this, lately. I’ll have some illustrations up tomorrow. We are adopting a communication model that resembles pre Scientific Revolution, with oppressive authority traded out for popular authority.

  5. Geoff,

    This is an awesome article and I really like how you laid it out – short, to the point, but filled with facts. Thank you for applying the rigor to this question.

    A few thoughts:
    1. Quora is and will always be a niche service. No matter how many people buzz by it at any time, only a few will really manage their quest for knowledge on it. It just doesn’t offer the kind of consistency that other services do. For that reason, I wonder if we can apply your evaluation to other brands that should be more popular in general and see if the trend continues.

    2. I hope readers won’t read this and think, “well, now I know that going after influencers is obviously the wrong path to take.” As someone wrote, it’s a piece of a larger recipe, and should be utilized in conjunction with a larger strategy. It’s not the only tool in the shed, but it shouldn’t be decommissioned, either.

    Heidi Massey recently virtually introduced us – Looking forward to meeting you sometime here in DC.

    Ian

    1. Good point, Ian. I agree. Balance is what’s necessary. A great online strategy, scratch that, a great communications strategy deploys tactics in a balanced fashion to achieve a result. Attention is necessary at points in the life of a communications program, especially with a mature service or product offering, or in the case of nonprofits, a cause solution.

      At the same time, there’s the before (product marketing, strategy, getting ready, etc.) and the after, what do you do to move people up the ladder of engagement. Stand alone attention doesn’t work well. That I hope is the take away message for this post…

      And I look forward to meeting you, soon, too!

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