Social Influencers Are Dead – Long Live the Instigators

Social Influencers Are Dead – Long Live the Instigators

Meet the social instigators

Social influence. The need to prove how wonderful you must be to get such a high Klout score. The golden nugget for brands looking to tell their story to the masses.

Yep, social influence – and, by association, social influencers – is a hot potato and continue to divide opinion.

On the one hand, you have the likes of Klout, Kred, PeerIndex and others allocating scores to you based on your perceived influence, according to their algorithms.

Included in this camp are the evangelists for these services – the score bleaters, pimping themselves looking to score freebies from brands that have bought into the unscientific scoring systems, as well as those that genuinely wish to be seen as more influential through a high score or number.

On the other hand, you have the naysayers and doubters, who believe it’s impossible to allocate a score to an individual, because no individual can truly be measured. There are way too many variables involved – I may be excited by something tweeted to me online, but if my wife says no, my wife says no.

And not one of the influence ranking platforms knows a single thing about my wife and her “influence”.

However, it’s clear we’re looking at the wrong people.

There will always be tools like Klout to offer those needing validation for the stuff they do online, just as much as there will always be people whose validation comes from the results they get for themselves or their clients, both online and offline.

And it doesn’t matter – because the term Social Influencer is pretty much dead. The real power online lies with the Instigators.

Influence Comes And Goes, But The Instigator Thrives Indefinitely

Before the term “social influencer” bastardized the origins of influence, it was a mark of respect to be known as an influencer. Now, though, the term has lost a lot of its marquee, because it’s tied directly to who can be the noisiest online to try and improve influence scores and grab some freebies.

It’s why many people are pushing back on influence scores, by dropping out of the system altogether, or simply refusing to care.

And while some brands are still willing to take a risk on signing up to offer free perks to those that play the game in the hope of getting more return for their money, many others are bypassing the score takers and going direct to the source.

This is where the Instigator is the new power, and the one that should be followed and courted.

Because the Instigator has always been around, long before any social influence “metric” was thought of. The Instigator has been the real influencer, and caused actions and reactions far larger, and in greater numbers, than the perceived influencer.

And they continue to do so, long after the last Klout Perk has shriveled up and become the butt of online jokes at the irrelevance.

So who are the Instigators, and why should you (as a brand or business) care?

The Trust of the Instigator Community

Instigators are the drivers of actions and conversations, and it’s down to one simple fact – they have the innate ability to create conversations and actions based on those conversations, as opposed to being a shill for a brand.

And their community knows this.

Instead of slapping the latest affiliate ad on their site for a product they’ll never use, Instigators always show both sides of the coin. They offer the good and the bad of a brand, product or service.

They treat their audience as equals – because their audience are equals. And, by being treated as equals and partners in the conversation, the audience of an Instigator takes the message further than any brand could (arguably) hope to see from an influencer campaign.

Because many brands are focusing on the wrong platforms. They’re looking to Twitter and Facebook, and throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars into Sponsored Tweets and Stories.

In the meantime, the real action is happening on blogs and inside forums – and only the smartest brands have cottoned onto this. And it’s (more often than not) not just the “accepted influencers”, or usual suspects, that are driving this action.

Take a look at Ken Mueller, who drives lively conversations across his blog comments and Twitter around his ideas. Or Jack B., who also gets smart people, that would be classed as influencers, discussing the merits of his thoughts on his blog and across the social web.

Because here’s the simple fact any marketer worth their salt will tell you – word of mouth and getting people talking about you is the real relationship to the sale.

Ad spend may get you awareness; great customer service will keep customers with you. But getting the buy? That’s the final step between desire (ads) and decision and – again, more often than not – this is where the conversations, pros and cons around your brand influence that decision.

The Social Influencer Is Dead – Long Live the Instigators

You can still chase the influencer model if you wish. After all, there’s some merit to knowing how someone is perceived online, and if they can drive interest in your perk, giveaway or new promotion.

But if you want real results and real long-term buy-in, you’ll be chasing the wrong crowd. The term influence has already been tainted to the effect that people are now wary and gun-shy when they hear it.

That’s an issue that won’t go away until the algorithms are more solid and locked down.

But that’s okay – because influencers are short hit affairs. The Instigators – the people that instigate immense conversations and let them run free, and then see them propagate even further around the web – are the real influencers.

They’re the folks that are making people think. And when you think, you look for a solution. And if you’re a brand with that solution, you’ll be instantly on that person’s radar – as long as you know where that person has come from. And, chances are, it’s not going to be a social influencer.

Time to rethink who you’re looking to connect with.

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.
273 comments
DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@jdojc Pfft, they don't care about stuff like that .... ;)

SInfluencers
SInfluencers

At Social Influencers we don’t use algorithms or statistics alone to select the people that are going to share through a social medium on behalf of a brand or business for us. We are not a sign up service that works on an affiliate model. At Social Influencers, pairing up “influencers” with brands or products that the influencer actually likes/uses is one of our goals. And something that our staff looks very closely at when pairing up an influencer with a business. This is for several reasons, mainly that it will be beneficial to a brand or business to have someone that actually like their product/service spreading the word, and at the same time the influencers are happy to do so because they believe in what they are saying. Spreading the word about a product or service that you like is an age old tradition. The only difference is, now, you get paid for it.

SInfluencers
SInfluencers

At Social Influencers we don’t use algorithms or statistics alone to select the people that are going to share through a social medium on behalf of a brand or business for us. We are not a sign up service that works on an affiliate model. At Social Influencers, pairing up “influencers” with brands or products that the influencer actually likes/uses is one of our goals. And something that our staff looks very closely at when pairing up an influencer with a business. This is for several reasons, mainly that it will be beneficial to a brand or business to have someone that actually like their product/service spreading the word, and at the same time the influencers are happy to do so because they believe in what they are saying. Spreading the word about a product or service that you like is an age old tradition. The only difference is, now, you get paid for it.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@LilFel @klout @midnighthaircut And now they even ignore your requests to block them. Not good.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@LilFel @klout @midnighthaircut And now they even ignore your requests to block them. Not good.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@midnighthaircut Cool, cheers sir, appreciated and look forward to it :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@midnighthaircut Cheers Hauled, thanks for the share. Great thoughts being shared in comments, topic I'm really interested in.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@midnighthaircut And that was meant to be Hayles- damn auto correct :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@midnighthaircut And that was meant to be Hayles- damn auto correct :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@midnighthaircut Cheers Hauled, thanks for the share. Great thoughts being shared in comments, topic I'm really interested in.

mretecki
mretecki

@ThomasMarzano @DannyBrown @marineltwit that's one of the strangest tweets/titles I've ever seen! Grabbed my attention ;)

mretecki
mretecki

@ThomasMarzano @DannyBrown @marineltwit that's one of the strangest tweets/titles I've ever seen! Grabbed my attention ;)

Erik_HPU
Erik_HPU

@marineltwit *lui is*,wat is een instigator in het Achterhoeks?

Erik_HPU
Erik_HPU

@marineltwit *lui is*,wat is een instigator in het Achterhoeks?

Erik_HPU
Erik_HPU

I may be excited by something tweeted to me online, but if my wife says no, my wife says no. @marineltwit

Erik_HPU
Erik_HPU

I may be excited by something tweeted to me online, but if my wife says no, my wife says no. @marineltwit

AdamBritten
AdamBritten

From how you explain "instigator" it still sounds like "influencer" but with no brand interaction. I fail to see the difference, as there are many "influencers" who do not adhere to Klout Perks, Kred Rewards, or any other system.

midnighthaircut
midnighthaircut

@DannyBrown Haha, nice. We're including the article on the Edelman blog today. I will send you the link!

mathayles
mathayles

@DannyBrown Haha, nice. We're including the article on the Edelman blog today. I will send you the link!

ThomasMarzano
ThomasMarzano

@xdanmorgan you really have to ask? lol.... Italy of course!

ThomasMarzano
ThomasMarzano

@mretecki @DannyBrown @marineltwit good post!

ThomasMarzano
ThomasMarzano

@xdanmorgan you really have to ask? lol.... Italy of course!

ThomasMarzano
ThomasMarzano

@mretecki @DannyBrown @marineltwit good post!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@AdamBritten Influencers cause reactions. Instigators cause actions and ripples, without the need to be classed as an influencer, or all that suggests.

Give me an instigated ripple over an influenced quick hit any time.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@midnighthaircut Cool, cheers sir, appreciated and look forward to it :)

xDanMorgan
xDanMorgan

@ThomasMarzano depends which spanish team shows up, the italians have been consistently impressive you can't say the same for the spanish...

mretecki
mretecki

@ThomasMarzano @DannyBrown @marineltwit Indeed.

marineltwit
marineltwit

@ThomasMarzano @mretecki @dannybrown indeed, very nice one Mr. Brown (always wanted to say that, Reservoir Dogs :).

xDanMorgan
xDanMorgan

@ThomasMarzano depends which spanish team shows up, the italians have been consistently impressive you can't say the same for the spanish...

mretecki
mretecki

@ThomasMarzano @DannyBrown @marineltwit Indeed.

marineltwit
marineltwit

@ThomasMarzano @mretecki @dannybrown indeed, very nice one Mr. Brown (always wanted to say that, Reservoir Dogs :).

Erik_HPU
Erik_HPU

@marineltwit Goed! Je mag verder naar de #volgenderonde...

Erik_HPU
Erik_HPU

@marineltwit Goed! Je mag verder naar de #volgenderonde...

ToniaRies
ToniaRies

@DannyBrown Sorry, Danny, I have to agree with Adam on this one.  I totally get the distinction you're trying to make -- true engagement and passion vs a Pavlovian one-time Perk-off.  No question there's a huge distinction and marketers need to be very thoughtful about how to engage real influencers in a meaningful way.  But, much as I'm on your team on that one, just changing the words doesn't solve the problem or help people really understand how online influence works...

AdamBritten
AdamBritten

@DannyBrown I get what you're saying; but that's a made up distinction. You could easily flip the two words and give them the opposite meaning.

mathayles
mathayles

@DannyBrown Hey Danny! Here's the link to Edelman.ca, mentioning Influencers Are Dead: http://t.co/D0xqYySw Let me know what you think!

xDanMorgan
xDanMorgan

@ThomasMarzano I think the Italians can sneak it, 2-1 w/ a late winner when spain are happy to go to extra time, come on #balotelli!

ThomasMarzano
ThomasMarzano

@xdanmorgan indeed!!! but I am Italian... so fingers crossed!

xDanMorgan
xDanMorgan

@ThomasMarzano I think the Italians can sneak it, 2-1 w/ a late winner when spain are happy to go to extra time, come on #balotelli!

ThomasMarzano
ThomasMarzano

@xdanmorgan indeed!!! but I am Italian... so fingers crossed!

abdallahalhakim
abdallahalhakim

@ToniaRies @AdamBritten I agree with both of you that the naming of instigator versus influencer is not a critical part. Rather for me, what is important is those individuals who can turn a comment into a conversation - very much like yourselves in this post. This type of engagement adds immense value to a blog post. Overall, a great post by Danny

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@ToniaRies That comment is right above yours - you must be in the TARDIS or something! :)

ToniaRies
ToniaRies

@DannyBrown there are definitely some commenting hiccups happening - I just received an email notification that you replied to my comment ... but your reply is not here.  @AdamBritten guess that means Danny's being punished, too!

According to the email, you said

"No, you haven't, I agree - i was using your post as an example of an Influencer by any measure (in this case, it was Klout). If it was just a name change for the sake of a name change, i'd agree (although as mentioned in the post, the term has been tainted). But I strongly believe in the Instigator discussion and it's something that's proving interesting to solidify beyond discussion. :)"

To which I say: I refuse to discuss this more until you instigate more than just discussion about it and show us what you got! :-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@ToniaRies No, you haven't, I agree - i was using your post as an example of an Influencer by any measure (in this case, it was Klout). 

If it was just a name change for the sake of a name change, i'd agree (although as mentioned in the post, the term has been tainted). But I strongly believe in the Instigator discussion and it's something that's proving interesting to solidify beyond discussion. :)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@AdamBritten Haha, if i wanted to punish you I'd just edit the comment into an embarrassing faux pas. ;-)

ToniaRies
ToniaRies

@DannyBrown when have I *ever* said that Klout does a good job of identifying, measuring or engaging influencers?  We definitely need something better.  I just don't know we need to change what we call it -- if you do a righteous job of identifying online influence, then people will be proud to be associated called an influencer by your tool...

See how I'm instigating a little more debate there? ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@ToniaRies Actually, let's use one of your posts that I linked to as an example.

Chevy wanted to promote the Sonic back in November, so they gave 130 "influencers" the car to drive and promote. They got 16,000 mentions but just one confirmed purchase.

One purchase from (essentially) 130 sales people? If that was a Chevy showroom, these guys would be out on their asses.

That's the "power of influence" right there. Because all these guys got were reactions - RTs. Facebook Likes, etc. 

As i mentioned to Adam in the disappearing comment (damn you Livefyre!), actions (instigations) will always (for me) be much more relevant and powerful than influenced reactions.

ToniaRies
ToniaRies

@DannyBrown you really are an instigator if you can make comments go poof!  And I look forward to seeing more of what's behind the curtain!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@ToniaRies @AdamBritten Unfortunately the previous couple of comments disappeared. Hey ho. :)

As Adam mentioned, we're all here to agree, disagree, offer differing viewpoints. I know the technology that we're working on moves away from the influence model, and into true ripples - and that's where the Instigator will really be defined.

Until then, we'll have differing views - and that's why blogging is so fine. :)

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  1. […] that can happen in a blog post is a good debate. And this post from Danny Brown titled “Social Influencers Are Dead – Long Live the Instigators” delivers on that front. I even added my two cents, disagreeing with Danny about his […]