What if companies hired public relations people to handle customer service – salespeople to manage marketing campaigns – marketing people to handle sales calls? What if companies forced women to act like men and made men act inferior to women? It would be like an indecent joke being acted out not just in the board room, but on corporate stakeholders.
Yet there are companies that spend millions on advertising and advertise to millions who ignore them. That’s not something to laugh at, that’s something to change.
The fact is that direct, cause, push, affinity, online, television – pick your poison marketing is all becoming less effective. Companies are losing the power to persuade people because people are tuning out advertising. There’s simply too much of it that doesn’t relate to them – so everything gets ignored.
Increasingly, social influencers are stepping in and telling a company’s story for them. They’ve earned the trust of their followers and are committed to providing them with content and information that helps them solve problems. They don’t get ignored because they’re seen as credible, trustworthy and a reliable source that cuts through all the noise.
We’ve identified 14 types of influencers and how they persuade us to act. Some are Super Connectors that with one introduction can change your life. Others are King Makers, who can make you an “overnight success”. Each have mastered at least one of Robert Cialdini’s Universal Principles of Persuasion of reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking, and consensus. Each can be better understood by reading Sam Fiorella’s co-authored book, Influencer Marketing.
Let’s take a look:
Here are the 14 influencer categories and how they persuade us:
The Cool Capitalists: Their business IS influence. One mention or endorsement from these influencers can significantly impact your topline. We trust them because they’re a celebrated expert or have remarkable accomplishments. They’ve worked hard to earn this level of influence so their support for your brand will not be cheap. Yet anything high end isn’t – is it? The ROI their support offers is worth it.
The King Makers: Have a new product/offering that’s the next Google Goggles? These folks will be all over it, particularly if you give it to them ‘first.’ One recommendation about your product shared by them can be game changing. We trust their opinions because they’ve seen it all and know how to filter the good from the bad. You’ve heard of early adopters? Meet their parents.
The Networked Ninjas: Envision the 6 degrees of separation concept as redesigned by Reid Hoffman and you won’t be far off. These are the people you call when you need to connect with others – these are the people that can connect A to Z in less time than it takes the rest of us to finish breakfast. These are the people that tell other important people who to talk to. If you happen to know one, make them your best friend.
The Card-Carrying Celebritants. If you’re looking for quality prepackaged, predigested Hollywood type influence, you could do a lot worse than the Celebritant. Like debutantes, these celebrities are the darlings of the online world. Their influence knows no bounds, and their followers are fiercely loyal. Some are better for causes, others for sales – but it’s essential to keep your target market in mind. Having Justin Bieber promote Audi is probably misguided, but if one sought to peddle teen swag, you’ve met your new God.
The Motivational Masters: These influencers are the lords of self-esteem. They like to talk, and when they do their discussion merits that most overused of terms – “remarkable.” Many influencers share motivational messages now and again, but this group has perfected the art and science of it. After working with these influencers, you and your customers will quickly fall under their spell. These folks are catalysts for exceptional audience engagement.
The Devil’s Advocate: These influencers insist on playing poker with all of the cards face up. They are so committed to transparency that if they feel you’re not, they’ll be avenged even if they have nothing else to be avenged for. These are folks you need on your side or at least neutral in their position towards your company or product. They’ll tell their followers what they like and don’t like and don’t hold anything back. People trust them because they point out what’s improper about your product, brand, or idea.
The Jedi Assassins: These influencers are crass, insufferable, and self-referential to the point of narcissistic personality disorder. For those willing to tolerate such personality defects, however, because of their brutal honesty, they can be extremely effective at changing moods and minds. These folks aren’t Devil’s Advocates, they’re destroyers – and if you get in their sights, be prepared to laugh at yourself and use the public relations to your advantage . . . hopefully.
The Fortune Hunter: Though they fall short of the other influencer types in some respects, these people are entrancing to look at. They’re popular because they’re recognized for being popular. They are both everywhere and nowhere. While not known for any one thing, these are the type of people that others expect to see. Almost like a reverse “Where’s Waldo” in which you see them in a crowded scene first, and one needs to search for everyone else. Brands court them because they’ve become highly recognized novelty magnets when they appear in ads, websites, emails, Instagram photos, or trade shows – they are instantly recognizable and thus draw attention to anything around them.
The Gentle Giants: These influencers project a peculiar type of harmony in substance and in form, like a Hallmark card designed by both Dear Abby and Mother Theresa. They remind you of your mom, whispering advice in your ear that comes to mind at just the right time. They are the star mommy bloggers, vloggers with a million plus subscribers and other reviewer types that aren’t overly aggressive with their promotions (the good ones aren’t, at least) – they recognize a soft touch works best. They provide their opinions on products and their followers intuitively trust them – because who doesn’t trust a mother figure?
The Polarizing Prodigies: This will be controversial, but to hell with it: Roger Moore is a better James Bond than Sean Connery. There – I said it. And just as 007 is cause for debate, these Polarizing Prodigies force you to take sides. These influencers are political and/or social cause influencers – and they can be anybody with sound logic and a viral idea. They can be fantastic advocates, but are often polarizing (by design). If you agree with them, they can heavily influence your opinion on matters. If you don’t – be prepared to pull your hair out.
Example: Alan Colmes
The Relationship Rockstars – These influencers excel at communicating witty, informative, pop-infused banter, and there are no other influencers that are better suited to delivering it. These rockstars are always, tenaciously, winking at their followers, but it’s uncertain whether their star struck fans even know how to blink back. They understand how to build influence empires while charming the other influencers.
The Analyzing Alchemist: These influencers always seem to be solving a case of science friction. Take away their analytical skills, and they’d have a difficult time keeping up with the rest of the influencers. Except they are wicked smart, often right and almost never wrong. They take the time to analyze what does and doesn’t work and help further everyone else’s thinking. People trust their opinions because they recognize superior analytical skill when they see it.
The Gifted Genius: These are the influencers that sit at the nexus between brilliance and innovation, the latter mostly of the tangible variety. They typically aren’t online, because they don’t need to be. The media does that job for them. Because of their dizzying high level IQ, Anything these influencers do gets press – and lots of it. And if you’re attached to them in some fashion, so will you.
The Flim Flam (Wo)Man: These influencers seem to suffer from ANTI-INFLUENCER LAW: For every negative action against a company, product or service, there is an equal and positive reaction from those companies’ buyers. They’ve mastered the arts of the smokescreen, the Flim Flam man, and the Court Jester. These are the drunken fraternity brothers and sisters or their spiritual equivalents. They are the Anti-influencers: rarely right, often wrong, but exuding confidence all the same. These folks won’t hesitate to obfuscate everything you thought was true – throw it up in the air and rearrange the elements in a way you probably never expected. Their ability to confuse and bamboozle is unprecedented.
What do you think? Did we miss anyone? Which type are you?
Latest posts by raynforest (see all)
- The Ultimate Influencer Guide to Sports Marketing (free eBook) - February 12, 2014
- Why Connecting With Influencers Will Help Your Book Explode in Popularity - January 2, 2014
- Raynforest CEO speaking at the European SharePoint Conference 2014 - November 24, 2013