Connectors Vs. Influencers


David Baker, COO- Cordial

What’s the difference between a social connecter and a social influencer?   One seems to be a component or a necessity of the other.   Naturally someone must be connected and have reach to have influence, right?   What if I told you that within your social graph, there are those who are connected to a lot of people, but who wield very little influence on anyone?  What if I told you there are a great many influencers that have very little reach, but have great influence within the networks where they do have reach?

We typically think of social influencers as the superstars who have one million fans and Twitter followers and is somewhat common with brands/product marketers as a paid channel.  The influencer I’m talking about is the one in your database.    The ones that do not require a fee to share or advocate your brand.

How are marketers to know who has influence in what areas and what triggers their motivation to share? A father may be really be connected in the workplace or industry, may have some influence in the automobile category (especially if he’s a Tesla lover) and may have influence over an airline carrier as they are Platinum rewards member and spend 50% of their life in the air.

There’s another dimension of  influence, and I call this the “Frequentist”.  You know the type, they share everything from moods to foods on Facebook. There’s a real depth to the psychology of a share, a like and how its driven by the “rewards” centers of our brains.   Influence can be lead by exposure and content, without the perception of the influencer.

Social has always walked that very sensitive line of being genuine and natural vs. interuptive.   Like advertising,  with brands focused on earned media, the proliferation of free content and services, make it a perfect, yet crowded place to build this.   But the long-tail investment in the active connectors and influencers is a catalyst to any database strategy.   With data from Twitter, Facebook and even other social aggregators like Spotright ( , its much easier to trend and map topologies within your audience segments.

But it starts with your database and mining behaviors to understand who has direct transactional value, who has “connector” value and who has “influence” value and designing approaches, content and frequency that match their behavior through channels (direct to consumer: email)

  • First:  Remember, the email address has more value than merely for sending email to.  It’s the primary key, making it very easy to match an audience to key social behaviors, social graphs, social topologies of communities  to help you identify who has the highest collective reach. (friends, connections).
  • Second:  Create share worthy content, vs trying to optimize purchase intent at every point.  This means, streams of communications, determining frequency patterns, device centric patterns of consumption and optimizing personaliztaion.

Social networking is no longer the Five Finger strategy used for decades by multilevel marketing programs (family, close friends, church, school, workplace), it’s about understanding how your customers are connected and how to leverage this connection to create lower-cost brand engagement/value.

As author David Meerman Scott said, “You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.”


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