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The real value of influencers


What Would Ashton Do—and Does It Matter?

Driven by the need of early adoption and the role of social media in promoting new products and services, marketers are spending huge amounts of money with “influencers”. They hope that their “influence score”, measured by companies such as from Klout and Peerindex, will bring results with peer-to-peer and word-of-mouth campaigns.

Based on research, Sinan Aral demonstrates that the early adoption typically attributed to influencers is in fact the results of several effects, and that the power of influence is typically overestimated 7 times.

One explanation is a sociological phenomenon called “homophily”, meaning that one’s preferences, interests, and behaviors are highly correlated with his friends’. All these things mimic social influence but may have nothing to do with it.

The research also provided another interesting insight: people don’t like spamming their friends unless they can pass a benefit along. These results conform to the sociological notion of a “gift economy,” in which generosity confers status.

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