How do you identify the people who are truly influencers in the area relevant to your business? Your company’s success or failure depends on your getting this one right.

Strong words? Hell yeah.

I just hope they’re strong enough to help.

In my last post about Influencer Marketing, we talked about impressions, and how incredibly blunt an instrument they are. In the Social Age, this new era of great-and-only-getting-better analytics, something as trivial as determining “number of people who might be exposed to your message” is… well, it’s malpractice on the part of marketers who endorse it.

We can do better. We can do tremendously better, right now, today, with some of the technology we have readily available.

A century ago, the retailer John Wanamaker remarked,

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

That unfortunately unavoidable cluelessness, that wasted fifty percent, still made Wanamaker a very successful man. But today? If you waste half your company’s advertising budget, you’re not going to be around long; you’re certainly going to have trouble making it to 2020.

Recently, a friend told me about an event he’s arranging social media support for. His client’s goal is to out-splash Dreamforce, the immense annual event from that has set the standard for real-time social media buzz. He told me that a central part of his strategy is to gather the world’s top 100 tweeters to attend and tweet about the event throughout the week.

This is my reply. Please note that I endorse one analytics company in particular here, but it’s from the heart. I have never been paid a cent by LittleBird.


That’s a great goal. How do you define “top tweeters?” Are you looking just for impressions, so any tweeter’s audience will do? Or are you using analytics to drill down and identify who is influential in what area? If the latter, I recommend because it uses a more sophisticated approach than other tools I’ve seen (not that anyone can possibly have seen them all at this point, there are so many).

For instance, their CEO reached out to tell me I’m among the 20 leaders who are most-watched by the 20 brands most attuned to the Future of Business. This was really interesting to me for a number of reasons:

  1. Knowing which companies most care about that topic and are willing to learn – rather than merely to preach – about it allows me to focus my energy on discussions with them, if I choose to go that route.
  2. Knowing which companies are NOT listening to thought leaders in the space allows me to focus my energy on… (how should I describe them?) humbler companies whose leadership is more eager to learn.
  3. I now know who my peers are in this area, at least according to the top companies that follow this topic.
  4. I haven’t spent any energy on the Future of Work – I had no idea people look to me for guidance there! This is exactly how I learned I was a social media “power” influencer several years ago, and it really helped me refocus my career on social leadership and social business. If my audience wants more insights on the Future of Work from me, maybe I should spend more attention on that.

How this might work for your efforts helping your client is, you might want to use this tool to identify the thought leaders on the topics most relevant to this company, such as enterprise software, IT, or you name it, and also the companies this client would benefit most from courting as potential sponsors for the event.

Don’t forget to focus on WIIFT (What’s In It For Them?) when you’re speaking with your target influencers. You aren’t going to get top-tier players to attend your event for free, so you’ll be stuck with the second- or third-tier influencers in the area you’re hoping to make a splash in. I’ve found the best method is just to ask, “What would be a win for you?” Is it a paid keynote at the event, or at a future event? Consulting for the client? Setting up a private dinner for the influencer in question and a couple of key attendees?

Most importantly in all this “influencer marketing” stuff is the notion that there is a thousand times more value in making a big “impression” with a dozen key prospects than there is with gathering millions of “impressions” with a completely random demographic.

Unless of course you’re talking about consumer goods. If your client is selling potato chips or beer, maybe a Super Bowl ad is the way to go.

I hope this helps, John. Please let me know how I can help you further. After all, the success of my friends is my success as well.


Influencer marketing is a living, breathing experiment playing out in real time across the social Web. You and I, and thousands (if not millions) of our friends, followers, and connections are the researchers and the test subjects, all at once.

How will our research play out? What will we learn? Who will benefit, and how?

All of that is up to us. So let’s make sure we’re asking smarter questions, and learning from them. Our brands – personally, and organizationally – depend on us getting this right!


For possibly my favorite post ever on the subject of influencer marketing, check out Britt Michaelian’s 5 Huge Mistakes Brands Make with Influencer Marketing Campaigns. I’ve become especially obsessed with number 5 – as I’ll explain to you next time.




About Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné is CEO of The Extraordinary Network, a group that is rewriting all the rules of influencer marketing by cutting out agency middlemen to work directly with B2B and luxury brands. Proud “bleeding heart capitalists,” he and his team have built support of a great cause into every for-profit campaign they undertake.

His entire career, Ted has collected fascinating people, most notably other thought leaders who also have a large and loyal audience of large enterprise leaders. He has watched the Wild West that is influencer marketing until he realized an opportunity to fix this broken system, and give influencers the sway they need to move markets together, and to get paid what they’re deserved for this power they bring to bear.

An Inc. Top 100 Speaker and one of Business News Daily’s 15 Twitter Accounts Every Entrepreneur Should Follow, Ranked #1 authority on the Social CEO and #3 in the Future of Work, Ted is also a serial business founder and CEO.

Ted is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership gave Ted a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

He lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife and two daughters.

Click here to hire Ted Coiné for your next event!

Ted's latest Meddles
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