Influencer Marketing Disappointing You? Try Using Actual Influencers

By Ted Wright June 20, 2018

By Ted Wright

If you’ve read any of my stuff, you know I have a specific, grounded-in-data point of view on why someone is an Influencer and how they act.

Influencer marketing (IM) is all the rage – and there’s a reason for it. When done correctly, it works. But in order for IM to work, real Influencers need to be involved. There’s no substitution.

Currently, many people are mistaking publishers for influencers. Bloggers, vloggers, photographers, YouTubers – any type of content creator – they may have influence, but they are not necessarily influencers. They are by their own actions defining themselves as broadcasters, spokespeople and shills. True Influencers are a different breed of folk.

The actual influencers

In every demographic, Influencers are just 10% of the population and they all have the same three personality traits that define them:

  1. They like to try new things because they’re new
  2. They love to share stories with friends
  3. They’re intrinsically motivated

Real influencer marketing works because influencers, at their core, love to share. Whether it’s with their small group of friends or thousands of people on social media – they share using word of mouth marketing. It’s organic, authentic, and they are people who would share whether they’re getting paid or not.

Word of mouth marketing plays an important role here because it allows humans to use their brains to figure out who should best know the information being shared with them. It’s very easy to tell on social media whether a recommendation feels authentic or not.

There are many publishers, spokespeople, bloggers, and other assorted skill workers that call themselves Influencers but they’re not. Those noble job categories approach the marketplace with “I’m interested in your stuff. If you pay me, I’ll talk about it on my platform.” That’s broadcast. That’s media. Real influencers are intrinsically motivated, not looking for a pay day. They share for love, not money.

And then, there’s Oprah

Think about Oprah. Yes, we all know she gets paid. She got paid to produce a TV show, a magazine, her own channel. However, many times she would share about things she genuinely loved and wasn’t getting paid to talk about. She has the true personality of an influencer because she loves to share and make connections for the sake of the share and the connect. Casey Neistat is the same way. They are exceptions not the rule.

If you wish to get paid to share information with other people, you’re a salesperson. Influencers know that no one wakes up thinking “This is a beautiful day, I hope someone tries to sell me something today”, but people love getting the inside scoop. And they trust it more when it comes face to face and from someone they know.

People will always welcome having things shared with them if they fit into these three categories:

  1. This is interesting to me
  2. This is relevant to my life
  3. This is authentic to the person (or brand) sharing this with me

Mistaking a publisher for an influencer is like getting a motorcycle and bicycle confused and trying to go out on the highway. If you pick wrong one, it’s a disaster.

They look kind of the same – they both have a place to sit, a place to put your feet, handlebars… you really need to get into the weeds to know the difference.

To remind, there is nothing wrong with being a blogger, vlogger, broadcaster, shill, spokesmodel or internet personality but don’t get those confused with actual influencers. That just leads to disappointment.


Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth

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