Influencers are not influential


7 February 2007

You are not nearly as influential as you think you are. One of my friends are doing research on influencers in mobile networks, and he is going to be crushed (or maybe not) by this entry in a recent HBR list which basically says that influentials are not very … influential. That is to say that the spread of new ideas in a social network is not dependent on a few super-connected, highly influential members, contrary to popular assumptions. The article offers some specific strategies for marketeers:

Because the ultimate impact of any individual—highly influential or not—depends on decisions made by people one, two, or more steps away from her or him, word-of-mouth marketing strategies shouldn’t focus on finding supposed influentials. Rather, marketing dollars might better be directed toward helping large numbers of ordinary people—possibly with Web-based social networking tools—to reach and influence others just like them.

The results are based on computer modeling, so I still think it will be useful to get some real data from real people. Identifying the influencers is easy (once you get the idea), now we just need the time to analyze their actual influence and the effect of their decisions and recommendations.