Influencers vs Influencer Marketing: What’s The Difference?

By Ted Wright September 27, 2018

influencer marketing

By Ted Wright

Word of Mouth Marketing is all about sharing stories. “Influencers” are great at sharing stories.

“Influencer marketing” is one of the hottest terms around today. The idea seems to be everywhere, and business leaders are all trying to figure out how to get in on the action.

When I say “influencer,” you may be thinking of YouTube stars selling skateboards or an

Instagram celebrity and her make-up tutorials.

Is that an influencer?

Are they the same as the influencer I describe in my book?

What leaders are actually looking for, maybe without realizing, are brand advocate who will help share stories. This is Word of Mouth Marketing.

I can see why there could be confusion because Influencer Marketing is so broadly used today, so let’s dissect this idea and get to the root of influence.

There are actually 3 general types of influencers in the world today:

  • Celebrities – Aligning a brand with a movie star or sports personality began in the early 1900s when Charlie Chaplin and American baseball player Babe Ruth started selling everything from cigarettes to hot dogs. Hiring a celebrity is beneficial for a brand when you’re trying to quickly establish an image and buy access to a celebrity’s fanbase. However, this is extremely expensive and risky in an era of celebrity Twitter meltdowns! And, you’re really paying for influence, you’re not earning it.
  • Content creators – We live in an empowering time when anyone can establish their own power and following on the web by publishing content on blogs, videos, podcasts, and visual images. Because of the vast reach of these trusted stars, brands are eager to pay them for access to their audiences. This may be a legitimate strategy if you need an immediate boost in brand awareness. However, these content creators are unlikely to commit to a brand without compensation and may even turn on a brand if a better deal comes along. Their primary commitment is to an audience, not necessarily a product or idea.
  • Advocates – This group may be the most reliable and desirable of all, because they simply love what you have to say and can’t get enough of you. They don’t need to be paid or convinced, in fact, they don’t want to be paid or convinced. Once they know about you and your story, they will authentically and passionately spread the word through their conversations, business meetings, and social media streams. Their primary commitment is to the story and the idea they want to spread.

Since Word of Mouth Marketing is all about sharing stories, these Advocates are essential to making the process work.

In the long-term, nothing can match the effectiveness and value of this third group, the word-of-mouth advocates in your communities.

They are the true influencers making stuff happen for your brand and that’s the beauty and magic of word of mouth marketing.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Ted Wright


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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