They’re not influencers, they’re broadcasters

Influence, influence, influence. We’re all talking about it – even if it’s only to complain about everyone talking about it (guilty). We’re trying to measure it. Quantify it. Identify it. Use it. Abuse it. Claim it. And the list goes on and on…

Of course, I’ve weighed in with my fair share of thoughts about how we’re making steps towards some sort of standard, but from the looks of things right now, we’re a long way off.

But I digress.

The point of this post is that I really don’t think that we should label those social media kids that brands try to get in front of as influencers. We should call them what they are: broadcasters.

If you haven’t read this gem of a post written by Zack Bussey that goes inside the mind of a typical “social media influencer” entitled “Social Media Influencers Suck,” you need to.

We feel we deserve it because of what we do after receiving it – we blog, tweet and share it on Facebook. Our blog readers read it, our thousands of followers on Twitter see it and our close friends on Facebook listen to what we say. Simply stated, we give you access to the people we know, and we’re giving it to you rather cheaply.

Read the whole thing. Seriously.

But when you read all the articles about what influence is and isn’t, when you dig into Klout and Kred and all the things written about them, when you get right down to it: these people are broadcasters. And that means that we’re back in a typical media placement cycle. Okay, maybe not typical, but you get the idea. There is an audience. There is a brand who wants access to the audience. A transaction takes place – sometimes paid, sometimes an experience, sometimes “gifted.” And then the brand is placed in front of audience for a limited amount of time.

Being on the PR/Branding/Marketing Communications side of the fence, I watch in awe at how a handful of these bloggers/influencers behave. And I’m fascinate at how these people – who claim to be marketing professionals – react and attack brands. Even at times holding them hostage. And they would never advise a client to act that way online. Yes, there are times when being outraged is warranted (like when they’re deliberately deceived) but other times, come on. They’re even attacking the very companies that have helped them get where they are. And on a side note, do they think that more brands will want to hire them because of this behavior? Do you think that more brands will even approach them in the future? Not likely.

I believe that they days of the social media influencer – as we know them – are numbered. A time is quickly approaching when brands will realize that there are other – more effective – ways to reach their audience and that in fact social media influencers are gatekeepers with no gates at all. They will be obsolete. And the playing field will be level.

11 Comments

  • October 10, 2011

    Nick Taylor

    A race against time then… maybe… because coming the other way, is this possibility that “brands” are utterly meaningless constructs.

    Brands are just stories about companies that don’t actually do what they say they do. They want to be “transparent”… they need to be, to have any degree of authenticity… but they outsource production, they outsource design, they outsource marketing… all they’re really doing is borrowing money and running a spreadsheet.

    Brands? Brands are fake. Brands suck. Nobody cares about brands.

  • October 11, 2011

    Bryan Jones

    I’m afraid that your message will be lost on those who need this the most. When you’re labelled the most popular kid in school, you don’t like hearing that kids in the av club are just as important as you.

  • October 11, 2011

    Tina Malott

    I think what is most interesting about this is that those that we defined in our textbooks as marketing tools (we would USE to get the word out) – influencers – have become autonomous in their roles. They’ve recognized their power and have redefined it. Roles have reversed and marketers must cater to their power. Nowadays carefully contrived marketing messages lack a meaningful impact on an audience – genuine (albeit sometimes with “bad behavior”) chatter and bluntness tends to resonate better with our digital audiences. We must respect the ever changing marketing playing field and adapt to the evolving messenger.

  • [...] "They're not influencers, they're broadcasters" (Oct'11) [...]

  • [...] http://askspike.com/2011/10/10/theyre-not-influencers-theyre-broadcasters/ Share this: Filed Under: Featured Tagged With: Influencers, Klout, Kred, Social Media, Spike Jones, Zach Bussey « Zach Bussey: Social Media Influencers Suck [...]

  • [...] Instead, a company should want to attract passionate people. If you are the company that sells orange handled scissors, then attract the customer who shows up at a scrapbooking event who has a bag with a built in holder for their scissors. They will be your loyal passionate fan.  Read Spike Jones’ complete article Here. [...]

  • [...] Influencers are people who can influence the perception of your brand in the short term. [...]

  • [...] or retweet your tweets simply doesn’t count. (I think Spike Jones hit it on the head with, “They’re not influencers, they’re broadcasters.”) Unfortunately, this is what many people who spend a lot of time online really think influencer [...]

  • January 23, 2012

    Arthur Huynh

    A great read, Spike. I would imagine that we would need some sort of global identification system that tracks the purchasing actions of everyone and associates it with their online handles for this to work, but that seems like a perfect world scenario.

    At eCairn, we’re of the same thought process. We don’t just want to find broadcasters, we want to find people with real influence, and to do so, we let the natural order of online communities vet out the spammers and re-broadcasters. You can find out more here: http://blog.ecairn.com/2011/11/10/how-to-rank-an-influencer/

    I’d love for you to take a look and give me your own take, Spike. Is it a better method of identifying REAL influencers? Or more of the same?

  • April 12, 2012

    sea

    I’d call them amplifiers rather than broadcasters
    For me, the entire social network communication aspect is an AMPLIFIER.

    intereastingly i sense it amplifies in 2 distinct ways
    - activates megaphone — (aka reminds me i have a voice (megaphone shifted from mass communication methods to me))
    - increases range of megaphone to anyone+anywhere+anytime

    for me, my thinking is currently, the channel is COMMUNITY
    and that typically happens offline
    so community is not profit driven
    its about being human, living, sharing, growing and helping
    instrinic qualities.


    brands are external things
    external constructs
    a tool ‘to be cool’
    if cool matters to you


    so I’m with “Nick Taylor” who replied first to this post
    “being authentic”, being genuine is KING.
    no more faking it.
    enough is really enough.

    the power of word of mouth — power of community
    is resurging

    Nike’s comment was:
    “A race against time then… maybe… because coming the other way, is this possibility that “brands” are utterly meaningless constructs.

    Brands are just stories about companies that don’t actually do what they say they do. They want to be “transparent”… they need to be, to have any degree of authenticity… but they outsource production, they outsource design, they outsource marketing… all they’re really doing is borrowing money and running a spreadsheet.

    Brands? Brands are fake. Brands suck. Nobody cares about brands.

  • [...] You reach out to influencers in hopes that they’ll broadcast the message to their audience (we’ve talked about before). Which, you know, reeks of top-down [...]

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