Social Media Influencers or Ambassadors? How to Identify Them

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The power of peer-to-peer recommendations

Recently, a new report by Pew Research showed that, for the first time, social media has definitely downgraded other media. According to this study, the viral effect of ¨word-of- mouth¨ and peer- to-peer recommendations now has more impact on users and consumers than traditional advertising. Statistics that just confirmed a previous Nielsen report, published in April 2012, that revealed that 92% of users are relying on the recommendations of the ambassadors. (read also: Advocates or Influencers : Which Are More Important to your Brand Marketing Success, by Jure Klepic, on Huffington Post Business)

One of the first challenges for professionals and entrepreneurs on the Web is to identify users that may influence, favorably or not, the decision-making process of their peers. Marketing professionals and companies have understood that new paradigm, and now include the concepts of influence and content marketing in their strategic planning. However, the marketing of influence in social media turns a new more complex science, which does not rely only on measurement algorithms and influencers lists.

To identify influencers and ambassadors, we must first analyze its own network and to profile social media organization. Then recognize specialists and experts in the community among the five main types of influencers encountered in social networks.

1 – Recognize potential ambassadors through your own network

The first and most faithful ambassadors of a brand are often found among employees, partners and suppliers of the company. They are on the front line, they are the first to benefit from the social success of the company. Its online reputation becomes a primary source of motivation.

To identify these potential ambassadors, marketers should first draw a portrait of their social media network, and determine the level of maturity of use of key stakeholders (employees and departments, partners, suppliers and distributors) as well as the state of the IT infrastructure (hardware, software, applications).

Meanwhile, professional and business on the Web must pay constant attention to users and customers. Privileged observers, the impact of prosumers (connected consumers) remains unknown and unsuspected until a trigger motivates their action, they become ambassadors or ideals, or the worst detractors of the brand or campaign. They are passionate. (Read also: Influence marketing – When the user becomes ambassadors)

2 – Identify the five types of social media influencers

In an article published last year on Social Media Today, I proposed an initial list of five types of social media influencers. This list is still corresponding to the five main types of influencers that can be encountered across different platforms, and fits perfectly in the adoption curve of social media:

– Social butterfly: The first and the most important pool of potential ambassadors. These are the front-line users, among which one can find employees, partners and employees and customers satisfied or dissatisfied. They remain silent observers until experience, happy or not, encourage them to express themselves. Although at first glance, their network is not as important as other types of influencers, the impact of their recommendations or complaints should not be overlooked.

– Broadcaster: Web reporters who will relay and amplify the message through their extensive network. Those most often share news and relevant content in social networks, it is usually the other bloggers, columnists and journalists specialized, but also the curators of content and web publishers. Their notorious greatly increases their reach and impact (positive or negative) of their opinions and recommendations.

– Networker: Possess generally larger contact lists. These are the ones that usually found on all platforms, who know everyone and everyone knows. They are the Community Managers and CCO (Chief Content Officer), but also the super-users always on the lookout for relevant and quality content for their own audience. The extent and scope of their multiple networks increases even more the importance of their recommendations.

– Trendsetter: The trendy are the pioneers of the Web, the first to discover the latest trends, test new products and services, new platforms and new technologies. Their expertise, widely distributed, is often one of the preferred sources of users, and other influencers. They become, in some ways, the hubs of their industry, and prove essential references.

– Thought leader: Early visionaries, marketing experts and social media. The relevance of their works, their authority in the area, and often their natural charisma, make them thought leaders. They regularly have conferences, and their writings are often referenced in universities and marketing schools.

There’s still debate about the types of influencer that we should recognize and identify in social medias. The first influence matrix proposed by Klout had not less than 16 different types of influencers.

More recently, Traackr suggested an much more interesting infographic that revealed the 10 different faces of influence, from the celebrity to the connector, the analyst, the expert or the journalist, identifying those different types to different renowned influencers as Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and Neal Schaffer.

But, those five types of influencers I suggested in this article are still relevant.   And they corresponded to the five steps of the curve of social media adoption of each users, as to the pyramid of influence. Two advantages that make that those charts will probably help professionals and enterprises to more focused on the right influence marketing strategy.

What type of influencer do you identify? Between influencer and ambassador, which one have the most value for brands. Share your comments.

Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin contributes a monthly column on Social Media Influence. Raymond is a francophone author and speaker who has 20 years experience acting as a senior strategic consultant and coach for organizations, SMBs and independent professionals. Author of the books «Culture Web à la portée des PME» (2001) and «Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0» (2010), he has also contributed to several magazines and bloggers platforms over the years. His upcoming new book in French, entitled «Generation C et l’influence des consommateurs branchés», is prefaced by Neal Schaffer, and will be also published in English and Spanish during the next year. +Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin


Consultant Web/SMO, Blogs: #MaximizeSocialBusiness #Curatti - Livre: Génération Connectée - Le marketing d'influence à l'ère numérique
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Raymond Morin


  1. says

    Interesting, Raymond. I recently started a relationship as a brand ambassador for Verizon. But I am not sure I really fit into the categories you mentioned. It’s been a great experience and I’m really honest about the products I’ve been provided to use and test. Being a brand ambassador doesn’t necessarily mean being gung ho about every thing a brand does or promotes…It would seem to ruin one’s credibility if a disappointing product or service were promoted. What are your thoughts?

    • says

      Thanks Terri. There’s just a few social media thought leaders that can be considered as brand ambassador potential. For the brand, as for the ambassador, it should be completely useless to promote a disappointing product (or service). The connected consumers will always have the last word.

  2. says

    Hi – thanks for this article. I’m starting a craft business and sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked by the ‘homemaker’ side of social media. I found this really valuable and will spend time re-assessing my contribution to my craft and how I should connect to my industry influencers!

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