Not All Fans Are Influencers

by Dec 24, 2013Content | Social Media | Email, Marketing

Editor’s Note on August 27, 2020: While this post was written in 2013, this basic introduction to influencers is still relevant. Some additional details have been added – the updated notes appear in bold, italic text below.

Recently, we had a customer come to us to engage their brand’s super fans. They thought these super fans could be the beginning of their influencer marketing program. “Yeah, they’re great! They buy tons of product, they just really love it, so we want to find a way to make them feel special and get them to spread messages for us.” On the surface, it sounds ideal. Send a little swag to people who already love your brand, then kick back and watch the new sales roll in.

Well, that might work–if your super fans happen to already be influential. Influence can be based on online exposure, in-person exposure or both. For instance, Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t have social media of any kind, but anything she wears instantly becomes cool; anything she says instantly becomes a meme. Even for those of us without highly paid publicity teams, we still all know those people who seem to be in the know about the latest products or always have a great referral. Some people spread that information with a tweet or a blog, while others spread it over a cup of coffee. Both are powerful and potent kinds of influencers, and depending on your audience, both should be incorporated into an influencer campaign.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead hire and pay “influencers” to get the word out for you. This type of marketing often goes hand-in-hand with two other forms of marketing: social-media marketing and content marketing. A lot of influencer campaigns have some sort of social-media component, whereby influencers are expected to spread the word through their personal social channels such as Instagram or Facebook.

Influencer Marketing Starts with Outreach

Now, starting your influencer outreach efforts with someone who already knows and loves your brand is awesome. But don’t assume that just because someone loves your brand that they can get others to do it well. Maybe, like me, they’re weird and reclusive hermits who only emerge by night and never talk to anyone. Maybe they have a demanding job that keeps them on the road and doesn’t give them exposure to a wide group of people. Maybe they’re on social media but their following is minuscule. There are many reasons that someone might not be a good influencer, even if they buy your product like gangbusters.

And, conversely, someone might be an awesome influencer, even if they don’t know your brand from a hole in the ground. Maybe it’s an influential mom blogger who can now rave to her followers about your food product. Maybe it’s a chamber of commerce president who can talk about how fabulous your consulting services are to any and all who might listen. Maybe it’s a celebrity endorser. Sending those people some free product, getting them involved with a VIP experience, or otherwise making them feel special can earn you a powerful super fan…who’s also an influencer.

Note, this does not give you permission to ignore your existing super fans. Every now and then, throw them a coupon, send them a letter, let them know you know who they are and you appreciate what they do. But don’t stake your marketing on them. For that, make sure you’re identifying real, strong influencers.

In late 2018, Shane Barker dropped by More than a Few Words to talk about how to proactively create an influencer marketing strategy and we thought it would be a great addition to this blog post.


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