Screen-Shot-2014-10-27-at-1.53.29-PMIn marketing, the term influencer has been given many different faces. They are journalists, professors, celebrities, industry heads, brand advocates, and everyday consumers. They are the individuals that marketers target instead of targeting the market as a whole.

Influencers can be broken down into three different types:

  • Influencers with Large Reach
  • Influencers Driving Quality Engagement
  • Influencers with Large % of Reach Engaged

The influencer type you target depends on your marketing objectives. Do you want your branded content to have a large reach, receive high engagement, or drive conversions?

To see which influencer type works for your objectives, take a closer look at the three types.


1. Influencers with Large Reach

Reach refers to the number of friends an influencer has. Influencers with a large reach have a sizeable online audience. These influencers are typically celebrities and popular bloggers who continuously produce content and are very well known.

For example, Justin Bieber is an influencer with a large reach. When he tweets, posts on Facebook, or uploads a picture on Instagram he gets thousands of likes, reposts, and comments.



As you can see, Justin does get engagement. He’s a celebrity with a huge following and has a large reach. But his posts don’t contain powerful content. They reach a large audience but don’t drive involved engagement. Most of the comments he receives are spam or fans praising him without referencing the content of his posts.

If you’re a brand hoping to target Justin Beiber to help you drive conversions, you might want to think again. It’s easy to confuse audience with influence. Having a ton of Twitter followers or a large blog readership doesn’t necessarily make a person influential. Influencers with a large reach drive awareness but not action.


Pros: Millions of people see the influencer’s posts (awareness)

Cons: There is a lack of purposeful content, quality engagement, and actions taken (conversions)


2. Influencers Driving Quality Engagement

Engagement in a general sense means people are commenting, liking, and sharing influencers’ content.

Quality engagement means people are purposefully interacting with a post by leaving meaningful comments, liking because they actually like the content (as opposed to just liking the influencer), and sharing content because they feel a personal connection with it.

Many top bloggers and Twitter celebrities fall into this category. They might not have a reach as large as Justin Beiber’s, but they receive quality engagement. For example, when Harry Bradford publishes a post on the Huffington Post blog, he receives a great deal of likes, shares, tweets, and comments.


People interact with Bradford’s posts because of his quality content and professional standing. Readers comment on his articles and share them with their networks because they like the content, not necessarily because they feel personally connected with Bradford.

If you’re looking to simply have people see and engage with content that mentions your brand, recruiting blogger could work for you just fine. People might retweet and like it but will they actually be driven to purchase your product or service? Probably not.

Readers and followers are beginning to see through constant endorsement in blogs and on Twitter. When people see a Twitter celebrity or a popular blogger endorse something, a good portion won’t believe these influencers have a true passion for what they are posting about.


Pros: The influencer posts quality content that hundreds of people have purposeful interactions with (awareness)

Cons: Audience doesn’t mean influence. People might share and interact with the influencer’s post but they aren’t necessarily driven to take an action (conversions)


3. Influencers with Large % of Reach Engaged

As an influence marketer, it’s important to start with influence, not audience. We often focus too much on audience because we see large numbers and assume it means influence. This is not the case. The most effective tactic is to target influencers who engage a large percent of their audience (even if their audiences are smaller).

An influencer could be a customer of yours or someone who is involved in a community related to your brand. She might have a small audience, but she talks about your brand or similar topics constantly and receives engagement on her posts from her friends and followers.


Her posts are influential because some 70% percent of US online adults trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family. This influencer might have a smaller audience, but her audience is more engaged and her opinions are more trusted. If you identify and activate this type of influencer you might not get a reach of millions but you will drive more conversions for your brand.


Pros: Captures more leads and drives more conversions

Cons: Less reach, potentially lower engagement (by number)


The Wrap-Up

Don’t get wrapped up in the follower, fan, and audience numbers. 56.1 million might seem like a powerful number, but when it comes to conversions, reach isn’t everything. The same goes for engagement on popular blogs and twitter handles, where shares and likes don’t necessarily translate to leads and sales.

If you’re looking to capture leads and generate conversions, target influencers who engage with a large percent of their reach. These influencers can affect the purchase decisions of their friends and followers. Identify and activate influencers who engage a large percent of their reach to drive sales for your brand.