One of the neologisms that are becoming popular in the social media slang is “influencer”, meaning someone who exerts a great influence on the Web. For various reasons: recognition, popularity gained in any way, ability to manage social networks, the issues he deals with and, of course, the number of contacts.
In short, these people can canalise ideas and trends on social networks: it’s similar to what opinion makers do in the journalistic field, the difference being that, when they deal with commercial products, infuencers can also shift important market shares.
Since long marketing experts are focussing on these users, knowing that by targeting a small amount of people, a wider audience can be reached. The most popular techniques include sending targeted messages and in some cases offering free samples.
But now someone warns against targeting these users, even if they are indisputably recognised. For instance, according to Steven Van Belleghem, who teaches marketing at the Vlerick Management School (Belgium), what counts is influence, not the influencer. In fact, often someone who is very popular in certain contexts is not so popular in others. You can be a financial expert and exert a great influence on the industrial sector, but not be equally recognised by the food or fashion industries.
A wise marketing strategy allows to use influencers in one sector, but their importance must not be overrated and the weight of numbers must always be taken into account.
Several studies confirm this: it’s much less costly and more effective to focus on several thousand people who recommend a product within their limited circle rather than on 10 influencers who recommend it to their various contacts. The trick consists in combining quality and quantity, so that each social network user can, by himself, become a “small infuencer”.