Influencers And Influentials: The One-Two Punch Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Needs
Dee Nuncio

It’s no secret that in 2022 social media influencers continue to be more important to the digital zeitgeist than ever before. Massive influencers like the D’amelio family have built multi-million dollar business empires, while young millionaires like those in the infamous hype house have signed on for reality shows that give the public an inside look at a career option that literally didn’t exist just a few years ago. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a consumer that has not been impacted in some way by influencer marketing. This is a sector of the social media infrastructure after all that has increased from $1.7 billion to $13.8 billion dollars in the last five years; with over 90 percent of consumers engaging with influencers on a weekly basis.

Brand marketers might argue all day about which influencer is best for their influencer campaign goals, but what they should really be focusing on is their lack of an influential marketing strategy.

At first glance, influencers may seem the same as influentials — after all, isn’t that an influencer’s job to be influential? In the reality of an effective social media campaign, the two have differences and understanding those differences is what will take your brand’s influencer marketing strategy from good to great.

Influencers are usually content creators that have built their audience intentionally within a specific niche, whereas ‘influentials’ have grown their following by posting about a topic of interest passionately online, often growing their following without trying. Influentials are more likely to be ‘real-life’ experts in their field, and they frequently bring a level of authenticity to their content that traditional influencers lack.

We have found that using a combination of both influencers and influentials addresses two issues many brands have faced when it comes to influencer marketing: audience trust, and content quality. Although many followers do accept that their favorite influencers have to promote products or services to earn a paycheck, there is still active conversation around influencers’ authenticity, as well as worries about whether they genuinely utilize the product or if it’s just purely business.

Influentials are less likely to face this type of scrutiny, as they have been passionate about their niche, and often post about their favorite products in their field before they had the option of monetary gain. Sometimes an ‘influential’ creator can be more effective than an ‘influencer’ because Influential content is often less polished and can come off as more authentic than a “produced” asset from an influencer.

Conversely, influencers are typically artistically/technically gifted and can create a specific appearance and feel. The combination of these two allows influencer material to have a more real and engaging tone within a wider marketing strategy.

So what are some best ways to assist brands to better incorporate both influencers and influentials to find those untapped, often hidden benefits? Here are a few things to consider for your client’s next social media marketing strategy:

1. Base your influencer selection on a person’s genuine capacity to influence. While this may appear obvious, examining a brand’s social media conversation can help you identify the influencers with the most potential to promote branded conversations.

2. Make sure to use social listening, and other data, to visualize the impact of a campaign in a measurable way, extract more value and increase trust and reach within your budget. Analyze the data using a strategic viewpoint that is adaptable enough to make changes if something isn’t working.

3. Enhance communications by using a ‘influentials’ base through a mix of paid and organic content that increases interaction. Activate the latent power within your influentials’ feeds by consistently posting on a number of diverse creative activations, strengthening your content diversity and regularity. Increasing reach and platform/audience relevance will help ensure continued success.

Before you go looking for that established mega influencer, or that up-and-coming micro-influencer to be the face of your next social media campaign, don’t forget the value of those who may not see themselves as typical influencers at all, but are indeed influential. The combination of the two represents the one-two punch your social media marketing plan needs for a big win on your social media legitimacy, and ROI.

Dee Nuncio is the Sr. Director, Strategy & Social for social media agency NOBOX, Miami, FL