Inbound marketing: Who are the real influencers?

Today we are publishing a post from our guest blogger Claude Malaison, a Québec commentator on all things digital and communications. See his blog, emergeance web

A lot has been said about influencers recently, particularly in marketing, whether B2B or B2C. There is no getting around it: in order for your inbound marketing strategy to be successful, it must include specific actions designed to reach this formless but omnipresent and omnipotent group that are the new rulers of the Web and marketing. Without influencers, success is no longer possible!

To help identify these strange creatures and with the avowed aim of making life easier for companies involved in the marketing of their products and / or services in B2B, many pseudo experts (another good topic for a blog post) make influencer lists or charts (see the title picture of this article). They are also happy to measure your influence based on wholly unreliable sources such as Klout, PeerIndex,  and others.

I’ve often written in my own blog that I distrust such rankings or lists. Besides, how should influence be measured and what exactly is an influencer? On the one hand, every site that measures influence jealously guards the secret of their measurement indexes, while on the other hand, influencer definitions are rare and often vague. Here’s an example from Kristen Matthews   marketing and “community manager” at GroupHigh in Boulder, Colorado states:

«Now that word of mouth recommendations and criticisms spread through social media faster than fire in a dry field, influencers are people who are active on social media and blogs. They also are brand advocates and niche promotersIf you take away only one thing from this guide, please retain this crucial bit of advice from Jay Baer: “True influence drives action, not just awareness.»

In bold above, we have the beginnings of a definition of what they are.  Not satisfied, I put the question directly to Google: Who are the influencers on the Web? Here is the first answer that came out, from :

“Today the internet has transformed influencers by exporting them from their peer group to the rest of the world. Speaking about their favourite subjects, they collect fans and followers and become real references in their field. Faced with such an opportunity, Brands developed “influencer marketing”.

In short, they are everywhere, outside the old hierarchies and expressing passion and expertise. They are, according to marketing experts, the little leprechauns hanging on to a pot of gold at the end of the inbound marketing rainbow. The key to your success!

These are individuals, not marketers, unknown persons who’ve used the web and social networks to become celebrities. They can be found across all subjects in all fields of interest and they are on all social networks. ”

And more often than not, they are bloggers.

Coincidentally, just before publishing this post, the MarketingProfs community site published an article on influence marketing  with an interesting infographic which I’ve reproduced below:


Everything seems to be there: Definition, Types, numbers, etc. But I remain skeptical. There are no influence numbers. Activity and extent of the network are quantified, but they don’t necessarily create influence. In B2B marketing, as in communications or in social networks, especially with a blog, Influence(I believe) comes as a result of meticulous research, originality and writing with a mixture of factual analysis and opinion. A bit like organic search results, influence and credibility “capital” is built a post at a time! And what speaks louder than words, graphics or video? A video without words … The first time I saw this video, it was in 2008. Eight years later it is still as strong an illustration of the influence of a person on a community as you’ll ever see…


So question remains. Exactly what is an influencer? And name me ONE influencer on the Web, whether in Quebec or elsewhere. Name me one Web guru who gives lectures on how to best use LinkedIn to “boost” your business and improve your inbound marketing and could be classified as an “influencer”. The graph above identifies four types: experts in social networks, popular on YouTube, bloggers and famous people. Do you agree? Well then let us know! We welcome your comments and who knows, we might even make up our own list together! 😉

Title image from

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