• They’re all right. While everyone is busy trying to “own” the model, the truth is that the model is an amalgam of models, with many layers.

    1. “Influencers” come in all shapes and sizes. Some have enormous distribution networks while others have very small ones. Information and influence don’t travel and find purchase at a universal rate. (I use the term “distribution” on purpose.)

    2. If someone is tagged an influencer, it is because they have some measure of influence over at least one other person. Okay. But the degree to which someone is in fact an influencer changes constantly, depending on the subject, the people being influenced (their mood, their disposition at that moment, their own biases, etc.) and any given point in time.

    Case in point: Oprah. Oprah is one of the prottypical influencers, based on most marketing models. Her network is massive. She is loved and respected. Her opinion matters. A positive mention of your product on her show results in a spike in business. Yet Oprah’s “influence” will vary depending on a sea of factors, each unique to the people ‘being influenced’. I might look to her for advice on books but never on cars. I might care what she thought about a movie, but completely ignore her when it comes to fitness advice. ‘Influence’ is neither popularity nor the size of one’s network. It isn’t that simple. I might care what an influencer has to say today, yet completely dismiss it tomorrow.

    The influencer model as it exists today – as it is sold by marketing firms and ad agencies – is a false god. You would have more luck trying to predict how many times a flock of sparrows will adjust and how during any given migration than trying to predict (or guarantee) either influence or ‘viral.’

    Every model is just a small piece of a very complex puzzle. There’s order to it, but it isn’t as cookie-cutter as we would like it to be.

    Good call.

  • LOL, I love that, Olivier. The post modern influencer.

  • The keyword here is CONTEXT. Being influencial is only effective in the right context. Olivier nailed in his example above with Oprah. Her sphere of influence is powerful; yet, limited. So, we must keep in mind the context of the area of influence. Chris Brogan has been known for years as a fabulous resource for social marketing. Now that he’s global road warrier, he’s becoming an authority on travel… see where I am going? Expertise, thought leadership and audience shape the context and the reach of our influence. Fun topic, and really fun to watch people dork around with it. :)

  • Great post Geoff–you had me with the title as I’m a theory loving geek, so I loved this recap highlighting the various models and frameworks developed.

    This past Spring this one by Forrester also caught my attention:

    It pulls in some concepts from the Tipping Point and others, but I liked the segmentation. What I don’t like about it–is how it says that the marketing value all lies in awareness. This is where I would disagree and say, as theory people like to say, it depends.

  • My take is that everyone is wrong about influence —

    Good recap of where we’ve been and nice opportunity for folks to jump in the fray to think about it.

  • Pingback:Influence is Dead. Long live influence. : Never Stop Marketing

    […] Livingston did a nice job of summarizing some of the thinking in his “The History of Influencer Theory on the Social Web” (of course, he ignored my seminal work “The ROI on Little People, but then again, I guess I’m […]

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