Should we be replacing “r” with “e”, identifying Influencees and not Influencers?

Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m not a huge fan of the notion of scoring influence, however since I’ve already written oodles on that topic (some links below), I’m not going to bore you with more influence analysis bashing. Instead I wanted to talk about the Influencee and suggest that we’ve got it backwards; rather than focusing all our attention on finding the supposed Influencers we should be identifying those people who are ready and willing to be influenced.

I can understand when Influencers, or more accurately Amplifiers, are used as a marketing tool; fire the message out there, increase its chances of reverberating by using people who gets good amplification, and then pray it sticks. What I don’t get is why we are still applying old school marketing scatter gun approaches, which are inherently impersonal and mass market, to a communication channel which is inherently intimate and personally targeted. Since social media gives us the opportunity to get to know our potential customers better and craft messages in way that is more targeted to their needs, interests, and preferences; why are we still obsessing with Influencers and mass messages when we should be focusing on the Influencees?

Even if I did believe in the magic of the Influencer/Amplifier, the most important thing is to catch a person when they are receptive to the message and the ultimate action the company is trying to drive. There is no point in an iPhone Influencer catching the Influencee just after they’ve already bought a cellphone. It’s equally as pointless hitting on someone who doesn’t have the funds (they just got fired), the inclination (they hate Apple), or are inappropriate to target (under-age or over-age).

Now I should caveate this by saying that I’m not suggesting scoring agencies start publishing Influencee scores; can you imagine how embarrassing that could be? Marie is “a total sap” when it comes to gadgets, but only “mildly gullable” when it comes to cosmetics. I don’t need everyone to know that ;-)

However, I do believe that extra attention needs to be given to the target of the action (the potential buyer) so that we can avoid spamming them (they don’t have the need) OR missing them (they’re having dinner). For example; back in 2010 I did my first twitter analytics project “BigInsights: Bigdata Analytics made Easy!” where I applied NLP in order to identify “buy signals” in conjunction with the usual sentiment, brand, and product mentions. While this first project was looking for fairly direct indicators of a product desire (my phone is broken, need a new one, looking for …) there is no reason why a more indirect set of indicators couldn’t be modelled (its my birthday, just got promoted, bought a complementary product…).

So should marketers be changing their focus away from the Influencer? Or at least expanding it to invest more time and effort on the Influencee? Or are they already moving in this direction?

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3 Comments to “Should we be replacing “r” with “e”, identifying Influencees and not Influencers?”

  1. As always Marie, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. Love the discussion around “influencers” vs. “influences”. An area which is never really addressed (which is strikingly odd). Once you actually influence your intended audience and they effectively become an “influence”, there is nothing by way of a “now what” plan. Good stuff!!

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    • Thanks Alison :-) It’s actually not uncommon to see analytics frequently being the end-point instead of a route to an action. But I believe things are changing and these days I hear a lot more “so whats” or “what nexts” :-) It’s exciting as it means the role of analytics is evolving.

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  2. If marketers understand ‘social context’ better they would be more successful ;-)

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