As social media has evolved and matured, the value placed by brands on social influencers has gained more traction.
In theory, brands want to connect with social influencers because they have the reach, networks and, frankly, power to encourage people to do take certain actions (e.g. buy a product, follow, tweet, recommend, etc.).
The question is whether brands are placing too much emphasis on social influencers? As brands battle to stay ahead of the pack digitally, do they pay too much attention to influencers in the overall scheme of things.
One of the key themes in a new book, Influencer Marketing, by Danny Brown and Samy Fiorella, is how brands should focus on customer rather than influencers. It’s a straightforward but, in some respects, different approach because customers often get lost in the social mix.
This may have to do with the myth that social media is not a sales medium, and brands that try to push their products are doing something wrong. Instead, social media is supposed to be a place to engage, have conversations and build relationships.
This may explain the fascination with influencers because brands can focus on winning them over, and then use their influence to drive awareness and sales.
While brands looking to court influencers has been around for a long time, the spotlight on social influencer was driven by Klout, which attempts to give people social scores. It was an approach that resonated initially because it was new and established an easy to understand benchmark.
But Klout seems to have lost its cache, partly due to competition and partly due to more people questioning the accuracy and relevancy of social scoring.
As brands look to establish and nurture their influencer marketing programs, they need to embrace new ways to do it that balances the needs to leverage people with large networks and, at the same time, focus on the people (aka customers) that buy or could buy their products and services.