Why social media influencers are irrelevant to your business when it comes to B2B PR
22nd March 2013
There is no question that some people make a lot of noise on social media, but that doesn’t mean they are influencing other people to buy stuff. So if you want to engage with those on social media who can help market particular goods and services, don’t waste your time with people who may be vocal, but have little power when it comes to influencing other people’s buying decisions.
A white paper produced by identification and engagement company Influencer50, called The Hype to Uncover Social Media Influencers – Should You Care?, analyses the power social media influencers have for most businesses. It concludes that for most companies they are completely irrelevant.
Are tweeters 'buyers' or 'sellers'?
Nick Hayes, president of Influencer50, explains: “If social media is a conduit of influence, the question needs to be ‘influence on whom?’, for we can’t get away from the finding that any B2B influence conveyed through Twitter is almost exclusively reaching those who have no role to play in B2B buying decisions. By any meaningful measure, it’s primarily noise, not influence.
“The key issue is to first understand how your own company’s prospects and customers behave. If these audiences are largely influenced through social media channels – and that’s a very big ‘if’ – then you want to be where your prospective customers are – on those same social media platforms. But the plain fact is that most buyers aren’t on those platforms, at least not when they’re in buying mode, and certainly not when they’re buying on behalf of work. It’s been all too easy to go along with the crowd who say ‘the world’s gone online for everything’. That is patently not true and merely demonstrates a lazy attitude.”
Discussing the power of influencers on Twitter, Hayes says that businesses have been too focused on getting messages retweeted: “Volume, as they say, is everything on Twitter. Those who retweet the most often, to the largest audience, are considered the most ‘influential’. And when those people are rewarded, they are further encouraged to shout as loud as they can online. Those considered ‘social media influencers’ are most typically the loudest people on Twitter, and certainly not the most influential.
“In previous eras, the most influential individuals in society may have been those accepted into the most refined private-member clubs, where they networked with other similarly selected folks. Their views carried weight among the establishment partly as a result of only the select few being selected into each club. Membership suggested a level of prior vetting had occurred, and so a member’s viewpoints were taken seriously. With Twitter there is no dress-code, no membership acceptance. Twitter encourages free-for-all information exchange, and long may it continue. There are many things to love about it. But its lack of selectivity, its lack of filtering intelligent comment from inane chat, is just one issue jarring the argument that Twitter is the new home of real-world influencers. Or at least the argument that those real-world influencers can easily be identified from a sea of banality.”
Influencer50 carried out research for the white paper from July 2012 to January 2013.