The Influence Hierarchy



Influence is like the Simpsons.

Meaning, whether you love it or hate it, influencer marketing is the social media topic that will never die.


Because it is a mythical, wonderful, tool that many of us view as a magical shortcut to dollars and cents.

Influence marketing is cool. It is fun. It is sexy.

The idea of tapping into this flowing river of fans that bloggers and youtubers and Twitter users have, just sitting there, ready to act, ready to buy, sounds amazing.

And there are some real opportunities there.

But at the end of the day influencer marketing runs smack into the wall we call reality or marketing fundamentals.

Like a lot of social media marketing, influencer marketing comes down to relationships. Relationships are a value exchange. And value, like all marketing, comes down to a cost of time or money. Usually both.

Breaking Down Influencer Marketing Into Easily Digested Bites

When I do training around influencer marketing, I like to remind people that influence is a really big ecosystem.



We are talking all media, all advertising, all cultural phenomenon, all friendships, all relationships, all passing interactions.

From billboards to movies to subway ads to celeb endorsements to conversations on front lawns across the world.

How we decide to buy is a massive database of sources that we trust to varying degrees.


But when it comes to social media and influencer marketing, we’re typically talking about one of two things that marketers quickly latch onto.

Blogger relations and customer advocates.

Here is where those two opportunities fall on a larger hierarchy of the folks who influence your customer.


Yes, that’s right, somewhere between mom and Bieber.

Mom, who has a ton of influence on your customer but a pretty narrow audience or “reach”.

And celebrities, who have tons of reach generally because we recognize them, but not necessarily a ton of direct influence on what we buy.

Bieber may help Samsung amp up awareness of their new TV to millions of folks, for instance. But your best friend with the latest LG Smart TV might convince you to buy because his influence on your buying decision is stronger. You trust him more than Bieber, for various reasons.

Your buddy is an advocate. He bought the product. He is a fan of the product. And he is advocating on its behalf. He is half of what I call the Influence Sweet Spot. As we already touched on, this is made up of bloggers and advocates.


Publishers and Fans.

Bloggers and Customers.

Influencers and Advocates.

It’s a lot of words, right?


It is important to remember that influence always exist on a scale of audience and relevance.

Both ends of that scale are very useful, but typically for different parts of the social sales funnel.

Invest where it makes sense for you. And don’t confuse the categories.

The above is one of the presentation decks I have used this concept in for reference to the larger conversation.


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