Only Connect: Influencer marketing is about more than just reach
Marketers wanting to harness digital word-of-mouth are using influencers to establish credibility and to create social currency in order to drive branded word-of-mouth recommendations. The key criterion for selection in the influencer game? Reach, or how many followers a person has. But this is a flawed, old-school approach to a digital world.
Look beyond reach
When did we ever ask a friend who recommends a product or service how many friends they have before taking their advice? We don’t do that. We trust the people in our human networks that we have relationships with. It is the trust and the relationship that matters, not the person’s popularity.
A word to the wise, marketers: we’re living in an era where reach is being questioned. A New York Times expose called “The Follower Factory” revealed as many as 48m of Twitter’s reported active users — nearly 15%— are automated accounts designed to simulate real people. In November last year, Facebook quietly updated key numbers that reveal much about its user base. Business Insider reports that “Facebook quietly increased its number of estimated duplicate accounts from 6% to 10%”, and that estimated “fake accounts were raised to 2–3% from 1%.” The bottom line? As many as 60m fake or automated accounts now roam the world’s largest social media platform.