The Paradox Of Buying Influence

The Paradox Of Buying Influence

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride.

Influencer marketing is somehow both buzzword of the moment and the ‘next big thing’.

See “10 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing is the Next Big Thing” or any one of dozens of such recent articles.

As ad-blocking grows, two thirds of marketers intend to increase their influencer investment in 2017 according to eMarketer.

Brands are throwing money at them. Agencies have even opened studios to help influencers create content for brands.

“Social media is where those dollars are headed with brands already spending more than $255 million on influencer marketing every month just on Instagram, according to Captiv8, a company that connects influencers with brands.”

Mercedes-Benz announced a collaboration with influencers called “MB Photo Pass” with this Möbius strip of strategy:

Influence means one, ones ideas or behavior, can impact someone’s else ideas or behavior.

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Influence is understood not to be manipulation of persuasion [because we have different words for those things].

There is a lack of intention in the idea, because influence, like entrepreneurship, is a side effect of doing something else: having status or expressing interesting ideas well; starting a company.

When we say someone is influential we mean that they can affect the behavior of others. However, inside that thought, there is also the idea of scale. Parents have incredible influence on their children, but we do not call all parents influencers.

What then are we talking about. What is an influencer?

Someone who has significant influence on significant numbers of people. If I set trends only to my friends, but no one else, no brand would seek me out, it would be inefficient.

So, in our celebrity obsessed hyper mediated culture, those that reach many people and inspire imitation or action, we call influencers.

Essentially various forms of celebrity, either bringing their audience over from traditional forms of fame or having grown one endogenously inside social media. Either way, their audience trusts them.

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We copy people we like, who have status. This is predicated on the idea that what they are saying is something they believe, an expression of who they are, because that’s what we want to imitate. So these celebrities are copied, consciously and unconsciously.

Like all “Next Big Things”, it’s been coming for a long time. Five years with this version of the terminology, but really at least a decade.

[Bill Buxton calls this theLong Nose of Innovation, which you should check out.]

In about 2007 advertising agencies started experimenting with influencer marketing.

Back then, blogs were cutting edge social media and I was considered an influencer, so O2 sent me a new phone and said here play with this.

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